Alice Cooper and his Hollywood Vampires bandmates will bring some edge to the Grammys next week with a tribute to late Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister and the premiere of a hard-rocking, brand new song, “As Bad as I Am.” “We started this band as a means to toast our ‘dead drunk friends’ at the Rainbow, all the ghosts in the bar, and now I guess Lemmy is involved in that, too,” Cooper tells Rolling Stone. The group – which includes Johnny Depp, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Guns N’ Roses’ Duff McKagan and former GN’R drummer Matt Sorum, among others – are set to perform both during the awards ceremony, which will air live on CBS on February 15th.
“Lemmy was one of those salt-of-the-earth guys,” Cooper says. “Find me somebody who didn’t love Lemmy. He’s just one of those guys that’s impossible not to like.
“He was always funny,” he continues. “I’m a ‘healed’ alcoholic and I haven’t had anything to drink in 35 years. A lot of people that drink always feel a little bit like they owe an explanation to me. A couple weeks before his death, Lemmy came up to me and said, ‘Alice, I’ve quit drinking.’ And he’s got a glass in his hand. And I go, ‘Really?’ And he says, ‘Yeah, I don’t drink whiskey anymore. I drink vodka.'” Cooper laughs. “And I went, ‘Lemmy, do you think your liver has any idea what color the alcohol is?’ He said, well it’s a step down from whiskey.’ And I went, ‘OK. Any step’s a good step.'” He laughs.
Although Hollywood Vampires are still planning what they will do at the Grammys, Cooper wants to sing “Ace of Spades.” Asked if he’d attempt to approximate Kilmister’s gravely snarl on the song, Cooper laughs. “I might do it more ‘Alice Cooper style,’ but it would still have to have that growl, that guttural voice to make it work. I can’t picture, like, Creedence Clearwater doing that song.”
The Grammys will also serve as the first time people will hear “As Bad As I Am,” which will appear as a bonus track on the upcoming deluxe edition of Hollywood Vampires’ 2015 debut. The digital release, which will also stream on Spotify, will also contain two previously unreleased covers – the Who’s “I’m a Boy” (“I did that song once with the Who because it was so obvious for Alice Cooper to sing,” the singer says, “‘I’m a boy, I’m a boy, but my ma won’t admit it'”) and Love’s “7 and 7 Is” (“I still have no idea what the lyrics mean,” Cooper says with a laugh, “there might have been drugs involved”) – when it comes out on February 12th.
With a scratchy guitar riff and locomotive, Aerosmith-y rhythms, “As Bad as I Am” and its catchy chorus – “Here’s to you, as good as you are/ Here’s to me as bad as I am” – came from Depp. “Johnny says to me, ‘My dad was a bit of a rounder, one of those guys that was in and out of trouble all the time,'” Cooper explains. “‘During Thanksgiving or Christmas, when we’d toast, he’d say, ‘Good as you are, bad as I am.'” Cooper laughs. “And I went, ‘Wow, that’s really good.’ That actually sounds like an old, Irish toast of some sort. So once again, almost everyone in the band is a recovered alcoholic and it refers back to alcohol.”
Beyond the theme, though, Cooper’s just happy with the way it sounds, and he’s looking for an opportunity to share it. “I like that it’s a pure rocker,” he says. “It moves. It’s what I think rock & roll needs right now.”