Rocker Alice Cooper balances his menacing alter ego with a mean game of golf

Nobody golfs in black leather and a pale face, with dark eyeliner and trickles of black above and be

Nobody golfs in black leather and a pale face, with dark eyeliner and trickles of black above and below the lashes.

Alice Cooper — the maniac rock singer who’s crazy about golf — can almost see his stage character making the cut at Augusta. Out of nowhere . . . just a musician . . . about to become the Masters champion.

“If I were a professional, if I were a PGA professional and I could shoot 68, 69 every day, I would wear the makeup,” said veteran rocker Cooper, a smile in his voice. “If you could play at that caliber and win tournaments and finish in the top 10, why not? Just upset everybody.”

Related story

For Gazette music writer Brian McElhiney’s review of this show, click here.

Cooper is sort of kidding about the goth golf outfit. But he expects to upset and entertain everybody who shows up at Proctors on Sunday for his 95-minute, 28-song “Theatre of Death” show. The concert starts at the Proctors Mainstage at 7:30 p.m.

“Every time we do a show, we try to form a new, different type of show,” said Cooper, 62, in a telephone interview from the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, where he performed Tuesday night. “We want to do all the hits for everybody, so we do. And if you think you know what Alice is going to do this time, if you think you’ve got the formula worked out, it’s totally upside down and backwards.”

Four settings

Cooper’s latest rock show is divided into four acts, and Alice will find himself in familiar places — Hell, a hospital for the deranged and a guillotine are on the scenic set list. “To get from act to act, there are four deaths that happen on stage,” Cooper said. “But it’s a very theatrical production.”

There’s dark humor, too. People just have to watch for it.

“After you see it one or two times you start going, ‘Hey, wait a minute. I just got that. That’s pretty funny,’ ” Cooper said. “There’s a lot of stuff in the show that’s built-in humor.”

Cooper has been in the public eye and ear since 1971 when his band — then named “Alice Cooper” — scored a big hit single with “I’m Eighteen.” Other rockers — “School’s Out,” “Elected” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy” were giants of the early ’70s.

Cooper went solo in 1975, adopting the band’s name as his own name and releasing the concept album “Welcome to My Nightmare.” In 2008, he released “Along Came a Spider,” his 18th solo album.

Cooper, who was born Vincent Damon Furnier, thinks he knows why music fans keep coming back to his evil alter ego.

“Hopefully, it’s the quality of the show,” he said. “I make sure I surround myself with the best rock players, and I would put my two guitarists up against anybody, same with the drummer, same with the bass player. Then you put those songs with those guys, then you put the Alice persona up there in full regalia and give them a show that’s lit and choreographed and produced. You just do it every single time; I really believe in consistency . . . you come and see this show every time and you say, ‘Wow, I didn’t think it could get better and I think it did.’ ”

Offstage, Cooper is known as just a regular guy, good to his fans, happy for his music and diversions. In addition to golf and his annual “Alice Cooper Pro-Am” tournament, Cooper is busy with his five-hour radio show, “Nights with Alice Cooper,” syndicated on more than 100 U.S. stations. And he’s committed to his “Solid Rock” teen center, still raising funds in Phoenix, Ariz.

Living two lives

“I definitely live two lives,” he said. “I get up in the morning and the first thing I do is play 18 holes of golf. Shot a 74 this morning. That has nothing to do with Alice Cooper. Then, I run around and probably go to the mall and do everything that anybody else does.

“An hour and a half before I get to play Alice, I start getting into character, probably the same way Anthony Hopkins does getting ready to play Hannibal Lecter. You have to get into a certain mental character, and when Alice shows up on stage, he is nothing like that guy who played golf that morning.”

Alice is gone by dawn. That’s when golf must happen, even on the road.

“We play every day,” Cooper said. “I insist on touring in buses. If you fly, you waste the day in airports. When we finish our show in Montreal [Saturday night], we will leave that night for Schenectady and we’ll be in by 6 in the morning. I’ll be on the tee at 7.”

People recognize him on the fairways and in the clubhouse, dressed in collared shirt, visor and slacks.

“Sure,” he said. “I’m almost as synonymous with golf as I am with Alice, which is great, because it’s so funny. The two never meet — the character on stage totally hates golf, and when I’m playing golf, I never think about Alice. There’s sort of a time for each thing.”

After Schenectady, Cooper will pack up his singing and swinging equipment and head to Europe for two weeks of shows in England, Belgium, Germany, Sweden and France and other countries. He likes the courses overseas; he’s not crazy about the attitude he gets from European hitters.

“They take it a little bit too seriously over there,” he said. “They want you to walk the course. I go, ‘Come on, it’s a silly game. We’re not into this for the health — it’s golf!’ They make it very, very posh, it’s a very elegant this or that.”

Music still comes first. One of Cooper’s newest endeavors is “Alice Does Alice,” newly recorded versions of five classic songs currently available via download from iTunes.

“I think when you have songs that everybody knows, and you have iTunes, ‘Guitar Hero,’ ‘Rock Band,’ you do different versions for all these things,” Cooper said. “I still believe in keeping the song pretty much like the original version. I don’t think anybody wants to hear a reggae version of ‘Eighteen.’ I get a little bit mad when I go see my favorite bands and they do their songs and they change them.”

Some Cooper songs will always be played during late spring and early fall — that won’t change. “School’s Out” has been a teen theme for almost 40 years. “Elected” gets extra radio play when politicians are trying to become elected, respected and selected in November.

Teen anthem

“We never realized that ‘School’s Out’ was going to be the national anthem since 1972. It’s definitely every teenager’s anthem,” Cooper said. “Every teacher comes out and says, ‘You don’t understand. That’s our song, too, because we can’t wait to get away from these kids.’”

Another thing won’t change. He remains identified with teen goofballs Wayne and Garth from the Saturday Night Live-inspired “Wayne’s World” movie. Cooper made a cameo in the 1992 film and met his fictional fans in a backstage suite. The awestruck Wayne and Garth knelt and bowed, hands outstretched, and repeated “We’re not worthy!”

“It’s only every day,” Cooper said. “Somebody asked me the other day, ‘Does anybody ever say, ‘We’re not worthy!’ and I said, ‘You mean, today? Because it happened four times today.’

“I just kind of laugh, because that’s something synonymous with you. But you know, it’s great to have those catch lines. Better to have them than not have them. I could have been stuck with a much worse catch line.”

Categories: Life and Arts

Leave a Reply