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​Raising the dead

Music | July 13th, 2016

Legendary shock rocker Alice Cooper has been offering his signature brand of rock and roll since the 70s. This time around he is ushering in a new version of The Hollywood Vampires to pay homage to The Hollywood Vampires of the past.

The Hollywood Vampires is his latest band, featuring the talents of Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, and multi-faceted superstar Johnny Depp.

The original Vampires were a social club that blossomed from Hollywood’s rock and roll underbelly. “We would go to The Rainbow late at night. It would be myself, Keith Moon from The Who and sometimes John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, Micky Dolenz, some of the earlier guys--Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison.” says Cooper, “Anybody who liked to drink would show up at The Rainbow. They were calling us Hollywood Vampires because no one ever saw us during the day--it was only at night.”

Cooper and Johnny Depp connected on the set of “Dark Shadows.” One night after filming, Cooper and his band decided to hit up a jam club in London. Depp picked up a guitar and wowed the crowd with his abilities. “Nobody knew how good of a guitar player he was --he really was as good as anybody in my band, and I have great guitar players,” says Cooper. ”So I was talking to him saying it would be great to put a band together that just paid tribute to our dead drunk friends--and as I said that Joe Perry came walking in and says, ‘I’m in.’”

The Hollywood Vampires is a cover band. Their mission is to pay tribute to the group’s friends who have passed on. “The thing about it is, we were all in cover bands at one time. Even the Stones and The Beatles,” says Cooper. ”So it was kind of like going back to the early days of your rock and roll career. You played bars and you played other people’s songs. It was kind of fun to do that.”

High Plains Reader: I bet it’s an added bonus to play your friend’s work!

Alice Cooper: Yeah, that’s what’s really neat. The amazing part about it is when you have that many alpha males in one room, there’s usually a gigantic ego problem. There’s been absolutely no ego problem at all in this band.

Everybody just looks at each other and says “What do you want to do?”... “I don’t care”... “Uhhh...you play lead on this.” Nobody argues--ever. Which is really cool. It’s great to be in a band where everybody respects each other so much that nobody argues.”

HPR: Do you ever get sentimental while choosing the material that you play?

AC: Sometimes that’s the hardest part, because let’s say you do a song for John Lennon. Of course we respect him as a songwriter. He was one of The Beatles-- you know you can’t get much bigger than that.

I used to drink with him all of the time and I knew he had a problem with drugs. So we are not going to do “Imagine,” we’re going to do “Cold Turkey,” because that’s a rock song, and if he were alive he would be playing that song with us--not a ballad.

So that’s kind of how we pick the songs. We decide what songs we are going to do that rock onstage, and still really represent the bands that we’re talking about.

HPR: Musicians aside, in researching some of your star-studded social circles, I saw that you worked with Salvador Dali.

AC: I was an art major in school and one of my heros was Salvador Dali. Can you imagine what I felt when I got a phone call saying Salvador Dali wants to work with you on a project? To me, that was like saying The Beatles want to work with you on an album.

I immediately asked what it was and they said it was going to be the first moving hologram.

This was in 1971-72, before anybody thought of what a hologram was.

Dali was so far ahead of everybody it was amazing. Then I got to be a part of it as his model.

HPR: Did you ever invite him to The Rainbow?

AC: His life was a weird party--if you can imagine. Dali traveled with an entourage of strange people. His whole lifestyle was almost like one of his paintings. If you were ever involved with Dali there were always 30 people around that were as weird as he was. Once you worked with him you were a part of his party.

HPR: Going back to “Dark Shadows,” did you connect with Christopher Lee onset?

AC: I’d known Lee before. I played golf with him. He was a really great guy. I think the thing that he did for us, by reading the Dracula thing for us was one of the last things he did professionally before he died. It was really an honor to have him on the album.

I had Vincent Price on “Welcome to my Nightmare,” so I’ve been lucky enough to work with Vincent Price and Christopher Lee on different projects.

HPR: Are there any songs that weren’t on the album that will be performed in Fargo?

AC: We’re adding songs all the time because, unfortunately, people keep dying! We’re going to throw in some Bowie and some Lemmy from Motorhead.

It’s funny because a friend of mine who plays in a pretty big band--I won’t say who asked, said “Why won’t you play any of my songs?” I said you really don’t want me to do any of your songs because you have to be dead. The last thing you want is for us to do your songs.

IF YOU GO:

Hollywood Vampires

Monday, July 18, 8pm

Scheel’s Arena, 5225 31st Ave S, Fargo

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