Guitarist Zakk Wylde promised a big night of "hookers, payola and blow" at this year's Revolver Golden Gods Awards, set to erupt April 11 in Los Angeles. "We're creeping up on the porn awards," he joked, standing among a crowd of hard rockers yesterday to announce the nominees in 10 categories.
"Within the next 200 or 300 years, metal and death metal and all the forms of metal will get top honors at the Grammys," he told Rolling Stone. Until then, Golden Gods nominees for Best Album include Anthrax, Foo Fighters and Lamb of God, and Kiss bassist Gene Simmons will receive the Golden God for best embodying "the spirit of hard rock and metal."
Last year's honoree was Alice Cooper, who attended yesterday's announcement and spoke to Rolling Stone about the awards, his upcoming summer tour with Iron Maiden (beginning June 21st in North Carolina) and the latest guitar virtuoso in his band, Orianthi.
What keeps you coming back to the Golden Gods?
I was watching the Grammys the other night – there was no rock & roll except for the Foo Fighters. I looked at the categories, and it said, "Hard rock – the Decemberists . . ." And I'm going, What? Foo Fighters were the only rock band involved. This is real rock. I feel more at home here. The Grammys used to be all rock & roll. Now it's sort of a novelty to have a rock band in there. I thought it was great when McCartney did "The End," where you had all the guitar players up there. That was the rockest part of the night.
The Foos' name also came up a lot in the nominations today.
They are the best Seventies band. They would have fit right in. Dave Grohl and those guys write really good hard rock songs. So we need more Guns N' Roses out there, and we need more Aerosmith. That's hard rock, and we don't seem to be getting a lot in the mainstream.
In the Eighties, you really embraced the metal scene, and now the Golden Gods. Do you see yourself that way?
I never thought of myself as metal. I looked at it as a hard, hard rock band. If you sit Ozzy and I down, we would talk about the Beatles. Ozzy's melodies and my melodies are all very Beatle-oriented – or the Yardbirds and the Who. There's more influence of that in our generation than anything else. That's why I think a lot of things that are happening now will not have a very long shelflife. The further you get away from the Beatles, the less chance you have of having classic songs. They were good teachers.
Iron Maiden may have picked up a few stagecraft tricks from you.
Those guys are really good friends of ours. When you've been out for five decades on the road, there's a whole section of the audience out there that have heard of Alice Cooper but never saw Alice Cooper. So an Iron Maiden audience is a great opportunity for us to show them what Alice is all about. We do more theatrics now than we did back then.
How did you connect with Orianthi?
[Producer] Bob Ezrin and I both liked Orianthi. I don't think anybody has seen her really play. You saw the Michael Jackson stuff, but you watch her play a full set of 28 songs, and that girl can rock it. Halfway through the tour, she goes, "By the way, I am left-handed." What do you mean? "I play better left-handed." What?! She's awfully good right-handed. She's fun. I notice every night on stage there would be a little more [fake] blood on her mouth. By the end of the tour on her arms was "Help Me" and cuts [drawn] on her arm. She got freakier and freakier as the tour went on.
What are you going to do on this tour with Maiden?
You have to do the hits. The audience would kill you if you don't do "Eighteen" and "School's Out." But then we've got to do stuff from the new album. And then you have to get what I call the underground hits – the real Alice aficionados want to hear those songs. Once in a while you throw a cover in there. We do a pretty mean "Brown Sugar."
What do you have in the works now?
The new album charted higher than anything we've had since Trash. When we go out with Maiden this year, we're going to be doing a best-of Alice, and after that we'll be going into producing the Welcome 2 My Nightmare show.
What will that be like?
I stay away from things like lasers and pyro, because Alice is more vaudevillian than that. I want the show to look like a sideshow – that thing you don't really want to go into but are compelled to go into.
Do you see anyone out there following that tradition?
Black Veil Brides picked up on something and said, "How come nobody's doing this Sunset Strip Eighties rock anymore?" And I'm surprised, too. That whole hair-rock thing that went on was a really fun era. It was loud, it was fun, it was in your face.
Did you witness much of the Eighties Sunset Strip?
To me it was funny, because it was a resurgence of what we did in the Seventies. All of a sudden every band had a show. Bands like Poison and Warrant and Ratt and Cinderella – they all had a show, and it was fun to watch. I might not even have liked some of those bands, but I would look at the show and go "Wow, they actually rehearsed this."
There's a lot of bands out right now that are afraid to be rock bands. They go up and they're way too polite. Everybody in the band looks like somebody you'd see on the street. A rock band looks like Black Veil Brides. You know what that guy does for a living. That's the way it was in the Sixties and the Seventies. Now I look at a group on stage and they've got acoustic guitars and they're singing about the environment, and I'm going, "What kind of edge is that?"
They had that in the Seventies, too.
They did, but nobody liked it. [laughs]