Alice sings far below such QueensrØchean caterwaulings, in the manly middle range favored by modern metal bands. Good thing, too, since Alice admits, "I lost the top end of my voice. When I hear the screams in 'Public Animal Number 9,' I go, 'Wow, where was that?'"
His voice box may have mellowed with age, but Alice's stage demeanor has become, well, meaner. "Before, Alice was always a victim because I was a victim to alcohol. After the alcoholism thing, Alice became more the dominant character, taking the audience by the throat, where he wants to take them. And that's the way we've played him for the past ten years."
Of course, Alice Cooper has always been a character to be played to the hilt, and the macabre makeup and other trimmings that launched Cooper's career became defining themes of heavy-metal music itself. It's this simple: no Alice Cooper, no Kiss, Dio or Mstley CrYe. And no death metal whatsoever.
Cooper has pulled a number of celluloid cameos in recent years, but his most memorable was in Wayne's World, where aging headbangers Garth and Wayne meet Cooper backstage and fall like Jell-O at their idol's feet, chanting "We're not worthy."
Many of Cooper's peers have paid him similar homage, and the guest roster on Alice albums for the past ten years reads like a Heavy Metal Who's Who: Ozzy, Guns N' Roses, Steven Tyler, Bon Jovi, Joe Satriani. On Cooper's most recent album, The Last Temptation, Soundgarden's Chris Cornell sang and even wrote a track.
Also contributing to that album's song count was Phoenix's own Beat Angels, who co-wrote the album's leadoff track, "Sideshow." Angels lead singer Brian Smith's connection with the Coop goes back to the early '80s, when Alice and longtime guitarist Dick Wagner (who also played with Lou Reed) produced an EP by Gentlemen After Dark, Smith's band at the time. Now that recording Alice remembers making.
"Y'know, I liked that record," he says, matter-of-factly. Cooper classifies Smith as a "great guy. I think those guys write really good stuff. I insisted that they open the show for us in Phoenix."
As for the future, an Alice Cooper boxed set with rare and unreleased songs is in the planning stages, and Alice is writing a studio concept album on the lofty subject of spiritual warfare. "Anytime I do an album from now on, I want it to be about something. I'm tired of making random albums that go in all different directions and say a buncha different things."
In the interim, Cooper has recorded one live album on his current tour (featuring guest artists Rob Zombie, Sammy Hagar and Slash), and says he has another in mind that would hold special meaning for some Valley residents:
"I want to play the senior prom at Cortez High School," he says, recalling the "Alma Mater" he gushed about on School's Out. "We may really do it next year and record it. Live at Cortez High. We'll finally put Cortez on the map."
If Alice isn't joking, the Cortez student body can count on him making the biggest prom splash since Carrie.
Alice Cooper is scheduled to perform on Sunday, June 23, at Compton Terrace in Chandler, with the Scorpions, and Beat Angels. Showtime is 7 p.m.