How serious is Alice Cooper about making his upcoming release a "pure Alice album"? Here's a hint: The godfather of shock rock has decided to bring the guillotine back to his stage show.
So expect heads to roll once again when Cooper's Dirty Diamonds debuts this June. This isn't a concept album, like recent outings Brutal Planet and Dragontown. Instead, Cooper says, he took a suggestion from his old producer Bob Ezrin, who helmed such Cooper classics as Killer and School's Out.
"One of the things Bob said was, 'If you're just gonna do twelve songs, how about twelve great songs -- no filler? If I hear filler on your album, I'll personally come beat you to death with a hammer,'" explains a chuckling Cooper, who says he's bounced ideas off Ezrin throughout his career.
"He expects the best out of me," Cooper adds. "So I refused to write a song that you can't sit down at a piano and play -- the verse, the chorus and the B-section."
Dirty Diamonds was actually overseen by Steve Lindsey, who co-produced Cooper's 2004 duet with rapper Xzibit "Stand" (off the official Olympics Games album, Unity) and has worked with Elton John, Luther Vandross and Leonard Cohen. Cooper describes the title track of Dirty Diamonds as an "epic" similar to his multilayered 1971 song "Halo of Flies." "I tried to make it as cinematic as possible -- so it's definitely got a little bit of a John Barry-ish, James Bond-ish thing," he says. "I think if this song had come out five months earlier, it would've been in the movie Sin City, because it has that kind of mentality to it."
Another new tune is "The Saga of Jesse Jane," the tale of a cross-dressing truck driver. "There's always three or four pretty funny songs," Cooper says, "and a couple of great ballads. But we pride ourselves on the rock & roll."
Cooper is preparing to debut his new live show, the Dirty Diamonds Revue, in Australia and Europe this summer, with Kiss drummer Eric Singer part of the band once again. According to Cooper, the tour -- which will feature "a lot of classic hits, a couple of pretty good stage tricks and a full-out production" -- should make its way to the U.S. by September.
While he made headlines last year by calling artists who campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry "morons," Cooper says he doesn't begrudge activist rockers their say. "You're American, you get to do that," he says. "And now if you live in Baghdad, you get to do that, too."