Backstage Pass: Alice Cooper spins another web

With its twisted lyrics, devastating sonic crunch and vicious hooks, many are calling Along Comes A Spider a return to the demented Alice Cooper of old.

The new album from the shock-rocker — his 25th — tells the story of a serial killer who, imagining himself as a spider despite an acute case of arachnophobia, wraps his victims in silk during a murderous spree that comes to a halt when the psychopath, unexpectedly, finds love. Only Alice Cooper could spin a rock ’n’ roll yarn like that.

Reviled by parents and anybody else whose sensibilities tended to run conservative in the early ’70s, Cooper and his bandmates in the Alice Cooper band offended multitudes of right-wing hand-wringers with macabre, darkly theatrical stage shows and songs that dealt with everything from necrophilia to political corruption to teenage rebellion to … well, anything his sick sense of humor could dream up.

Hugely influential, Cooper set the stage for acts like KISS, Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, and The New York Dolls. And then there’s the story of how Johnny Rotten auditioned for The Sex Pistols by singing the Cooper classic “I’m Eighteen.”

The Alice Cooper band imploded after seven albums, as internal strife tore it apart. The act’s parting shot was, perhaps, its greatest achievement, 1973’s ambitious Billion Dollar Babies, which featured the mega-hit “No More Mr. Nice Guy.”

As a solo artist, Cooper’s nightmarish concert stagings continued to shock and awe. His sound has evolved from the gritty garage-rock stomp of early Alice Cooper band recordings into a harder, more metallic grind, though on Along Comes A Spider,  a combination of the two genres produces a potent musical poison in “I Know Where You Live,” “Vengeance is Mine” (with a killer guitar solo by Slash), the solar-powered psych-rock of “Wake The Dead” and and the glam-rock swagger of “I’m Hungry.”

Cooper discussed both Along Comes A Spider and Billion Dollar Babies in this recent interview.

Goldmine: You’ve always, throughout your career, been the type to throw a twist in here or there, and I think this album does that.

Alice Cooper: Yeah, especially with this album. This album, it doesn’t just twist; the very last thing you hear on the album totally changes the story. At the very, very end of it, when you’re hearing the epilogue… the whole thing starts off with them finding his diary. And his diary is about all these elaborate murders and wrapping his victims in silk and taking one leg because he needed eight legs, you know, for the spider. And you’re getting really insistent [that] this guy is really insane. And then, at the very end, you realize that he says, “Well, they found my diary today.” You know, we’ve been in this insane asylum for 28 years. So, the diary was just all his imagination. And none of these things actually happened. So, I do get, at the very end, I get that O. Henry/“Twilight Zone” twist at the end. 

GM: In creating this character, what sources of inspiration did you draw from?

AC: Well, I think I put myself in his position. I think there is nothing charming at all about real serial killers at all. The ones that we see though in fiction — the Hannibal Lecters, the Dexters and people like that — are the ones that have a certain amount of charm to them. And for some reason, you’re actually, somehow, pulling for them.

I don’t think anybody pulled for Charles Manson or Ted Bundy or anybody like that, because they were seriously sick people that deserved to be taken out of the scene. But, when it comes to fiction, for some reason we fe

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