As Alice Cooper began preparing to debut a new Hollywood Vampires tune and pay tribute to Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister at the Grammy Awards, he marveled at how he and his bandmates, which include Johnny Depp and Joe Perry, could coordinate schedules. One new challenge has been working around Guns N’ Roses’ recent reunion, since erstwhile GN’R members bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Matt Sorum double in Vampires.
“I had a feeling it was going to happen,” Cooper says of the reunited GN’R, which officially welcomed McKagan and guitarist Slash back into Axl Rose’s world. “Guns N’ Roses is always unpredictable, which makes them exciting. I think those gigs will go through.”
The one thing that has Cooper scratching his head though is the apparent absence of founding GN’R guitarist Izzy Stradlin, who played with the band from 1985 through 1991. “I’m just wondering why isn’t Izzy in there?” he says. “I don’t know about drums, but certainly Izzy is viable. You’d think if Slash and Axl are working together – and Duff is one of those guys that gets along with everybody – then at least Izzy would be one of the guys who would be a shoo-in.
“And maybe he is, I don’t know,” Cooper says, continuing speculation. “I don’t what their setup is with him. But it’s like not having Brian Jones with the Rolling Stones, if he were available.”
Since Guns N’ Roses announced the reunion, Cooper says McKagan has seemed reinvigorated, even in Hollywood Vampires. “Duff is great, man,” he says. “One of the great things about when we put the Vampires together is how the bass and drums make the songs move. You’ve got two guys that have played together for 20 years. They’re locked in. It’s really good.”
Cooper, who recorded a version of his “Under My Wheels” with Rose and Slash in 1988 and later guested on GN’R’s “The Garden,” also remembered taking Guns N’ Roses out on the road with him in 1987, shortly after the release of Appetite for Destruction. “They were great,” he says. “They were never late.” He laughs. “They were one of those bands that, when they go on before you, you have to look at your band and be like, ‘Hey guys, we better be good tonight because those guys were great.’ You always want the opening band to push you. That’s always a good thing.”