It was a convivial crowd packed with friends, family and superfans Tuesday night at The Grammy Museum for the Super Duper Alice Cooper Q&A. Dee Snyder, Pamela Des Barres and Miss Mercy were also in attendance. Alice Cooper, Reg Harkema and Sam Dunn were relaxed and comfortable. The filmmakers had clearly grown close to their subject, who charmed the entire audience with his down-to-earth humor. The third director, Scot McFadyen was not on the panel. The moderator, Scott Goldman, skillfully conducted the interview, and was especially adept at using body shifts to cue the audience or panel member that it was time to start wrapping it up.
Considering he said that he looks forward instead of backwards, Alice Cooper did a lot of reminiscing. But he commented that he fields a lot of questions asking him what he was thinking 30 years ago and he can hardly remember what he did yesterday. There was a discussion revolving around the Dr. Jeckyl/Hyde parallel, and Alice’s influence on other musicians. He said it blew his mind the first time he saw a Twisted Sister video, and that their shared love of cartoons was apparent, “Both Dee Snyder and I owe a lot of our careers to Wile E. Coyote.
They discussed the fact that some of the documentary was difficult to watch. Alice mentioned that when he saw freebase addled Tom Snyder interview he realized that was actually the ultimate “Alice” character, “That was as scary as Alice was ever going to get.” The filmmakers also ran his bandmates, Dennis Dunaway and Neil Smith’s interviews unedited because they really wanted to get their perspectives on what happened. Alice watched it a little awkwardly at the Tribeca premiere sitting with those two guys, but he said they have always remained friends.
Scott Goldman commented that Alice believes in “paying it forward,” giving him an opportunity to discuss his project, Solid Rock Foundation, a non-profit that provides after school activities for teens. Most are music related, but there are also rock walls and a coffee house to provide a safe place to hang out.
You can bet that The LA Beat was ready with a question. On the “Love it to Death” album cover, the record company thought that Alice’s thumb jutting out from his cape looked too much like a penis and changed the album cover. Our question was basically, “So what was the deal? was it intentional, and were you angry that they changed the cover?” Alice burst out laughing, “What an insult! It would have been a MUCH BIGGER thumb!…no, it was purely accidental.”
Alice was asked about his writing process, especially around the Killer era. He gave a lot of credit to the band’s “George Martin,” Robert Ezrin, saying he really got him to simplify the songs. Alice also said that he learned to write songs from the punchline first, then working backwards.
There was also a question as to whether Alice still paints, as the film traced his art school career and love of surrealism. He replied that his wife encourages him to paint again but he just has too much going on. At this point members of the panel and audience chimed in, “Golf” “DJ-ing” “Cooperstown.” etcetera.
It was a thrill to be in such an intimate setting with both Alice and the film-makers as they discussed their creative process, and to be able to ask Alice Cooper questions delving into his past. That is really the gift of the Grammy Museum to LA, to provide these ongoing events that allow musicians and fans to really get to know each other.