What do you think was your best stage show idea?

Well, everyone asks, ‘What’s your best stage song?’ And I always answer ‘The Ballad Of Dwight Frye.’ Only because it puts Alice in a straightjacket under a cold blue light singing about being in a mental institution and you can feel his claustrophobia and the struggle to get out. It’s a real theatrical experience in that he’s going, ‘I’ve got to get out of here…I gotta get out of here…I gotta get out of here!’ And when he breaks out there’s this orgasm within the audience, because they’re feeling as claustrophobic as Alice. You can feel the veins in his neck popping and when he finally breaks out of that thing, they all break out too. They can breathe again. With all of the bigness of the show, with explosions and everything that’s going on, for those few seconds there’s just this one guy in a straightjacket beneath a cold blue light struggling to get out. It brings it all down to a pinpoint onstage. And then when he gets out of it, of course, it explodes with the color and light and everything again. It’s a real release for the audience.

Hell, you can feel it on the record.

(laughs) I actually recorded it in a straight jacket. I told Bob Ezrin (legendary producer of many Alice Cooper classic albums, as well as Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd and Kiss) this song should be done in a straightjacket, and he said, ‘Let’s record it that way then!’

Are you comfortable being lumped in, and I mean this in the best way, with that whole metal crowd, the hard rock crowd, because I’d always considered you even way back with the Alice Cooper band through your solo career as more of a cabaret performer with electric guitars.

I look at it this way, we always wanted to be the Yardbirds, to be as good as the Stones, so in that sense we were truly a hard rock band. We were never a metal band. We were a hard rock band, and we wanted to be as good a rock band as anybody out there. We wanted the swagger. We wanted the snottiness. Guns & Roses had it. Just to get up there and be a snotty rock and roll band, but to be a really good one. The Stones had it. It was built in. And I wanted that to be part of Alice Cooper. The theatrics overtook it, but in my heart we were just a snotty rock and roll band.

Could you ever foresee shedding Alice? Obviously it has to happen eventually, you clip off the hair, get out the golf clubs and say, ‘Thank you very much, I’m done.’ You ever see that happening, and would you miss the old boy?

I guess I could see that. I’ve always said the only time that’s ever going to happen, honestly, is if I physically can’t go onstage and do it, or if nobody shows up. (laughs)

Then I know it’s over. If nobody’s going to show up to see it, then there’s no more reason to do it. But so far that hasn’t happened. I think there will always be an audience for Alice. So it’ll take something physical to stop me, and right now I’m probably in better shape than I’ve ever been in my life. (laughs) So I don’t see any end to what’s going on right now. It’s the hardest show we’ve maybe ever done physically and I’ve never been in better shape, so I feel great about it.

It could come full circle for you. I remember you telling a story once about one of your first gigs when you cleared the joint. (laughs)

Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I don’t mind admitting we were a horrible band, but we worked harder than anybody to be a great band, and that’s the way I look at it now. I only work with the best musicians, because I want them to be as good as the songs are. Bob Ezrin had a lot to do with making us good songwriters and hopefully the next couple of albums I’ll be working with Bob again.

That’s great news.

Yeah, and you’re going to really love this new show. This new show is so crazy that every night I can’t wait to do it, because it’s so insane.

Catch Alice Cooper at the Bergen PAC in Englewood, NJ, on Sept. 23 and at the House Of Blues in Atlantic City, NJ, on Sept. 25. alicecooper.com.

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