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In September 2011 Alice Cooper released Welcome 2 My Nightmare, the long-awaited sequel to his legendary debut solo album released some thirty-six years earlier. His nineteenth record since leaving his eponymous group in the mid-1970s, Welcome 2 told the story of Cooper’s alter-ego Steven travelling deep into his dreams, only to eventually discover that he he has died and made his way into the afterlife.
Working as a follow-up to not only 1975’s Welcome to My Nightmare but also The Last Temptation, released in 1994, Welcome 2 featured an eclectic collection of guest appearances, from popular artists such as Rob Zombie and Ke$ha to former members of Cooper’s earlier group, which had split following the critical failure of Muscle of Love in 1974. Unlike contemporaries like Ozzy Osbourne, Cooper has succeeded in remaining relevant over the last four and a half decades by not only pushing boundaries but also embracing current trends and while his venture into New Wave in the early 1980s may be regarded as his least prolific period, he has survived through glam, grunge and nu metal and even as he approaches seventy he still spends his life on the road.
‘I take the music seriously, I take the show seriously, but I don’t take Alice that seriously as an ego thing,’ Cooper explained to Classic Rock during the promotion of Welcome 2. ‘When I became Alice and I play and I play Alice I take that very seriously. I take the songs very seriously but I can’t tell you that I bought all my press – because I invented the press on it. I kind of look at it as an act of fiction.’ Since his rise to stardom in the 1970s Cooper has associated with some of the most iconic artists of their era, from the surreal genius of Salvador Dalí to music legend icon John Lennon but from the creative perspective he has been at his most prolific through his collaborations with producer Bob Erin, beginning in 1971 with Love it to Death and over the years including such undisputed classics as Billion Dollar Babies and Welcome to My Nightmare.
With five years having passed since the release of Welcome 2 – the longest wait between studio albums aside from the break between The Last Temptation and Brutal Planet – it was uncertain whether Cooper would return to the studio to record another album or if he would spend the remainder of his career touring the world. But in a new interview with AZCentral.com the sixty-eight year old has revealed that he is currently developing new material with his current line-up of session musicians. ‘Well, we’re recording demos right now. We’re writing and recording demos,’ he announces.‘We have three songs from the original band that we’re gonna look at and see if we can turn them into something. If not, we tried. But Neal and Mike and Dennis and I wrote songs together. And what we always do, we know the best ten songs are gonna make the album. It doesn’t matter where they came from. I’m gonna always write the lyrics. And I’m gonna always arrange it. And Bob’s always gonna produce it. If the song comes from Neal (Smith; drums), Mike (Bruce; guitar) and Dennis (Dunaway; bass), great! I would love that. We have those songs sitting there. We just have to see if they fit in.’
Meanwhile, Cooper has gained considerable acclaim through his touring with his side project Hollywood Vampires, a group named after his original notorious drinking troupe from the 1970s. ‘We toured all through Europe and into the States, sold out every show. It was great. The audiences loved it. The band just killed it every single night. And we didn’t know how it was gonna go over. We’re billing ourselves as the World’s Most Expensive Bar Band,’ says Cooper of the project that includes Hollywood star Johnny Depp on guitar. ‘But people dug the idea. And we did enough original stuff in the show that they got the idea that we were saluting our dead drunk friends but I think we put it in a package where they got the idea that that’s what rock and roll was like then. It was swagger, it was naughty, it was arrogant and it was really raw and rock and roll.’