Alice and Bob, a macabre musical partnership

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

Alice Cooper and producer Bob Ezrin were a hit-making dream team in the 1970s.

With Ezrin behind the production board, the original Alice Cooper group stormed up the charts with “School’s Out,” “I’m Eighteen,” “Billion Dollar Babies,” and “Under My Wheels.”

When Cooper— the singer— struck out on his own, Ezrin was the producer behind solo efforts like “Only Women Bleed,” “Welcome to My Nightmare,” “I Never Cry,” and “You and Me.”

The duo took separate paths for a number of years before reuniting for the album, “Welcome 2 My Nightmare.” The pair continued their working relationship on Cooper’s last studio effort “Paranormal.”

As he was setting out to prepare for his new tour, which stops in Connecticut on July 4, Cooper also was laying the groundwork for yet another album with Ezrin.

“Bob Ezrin is my other half,” said Cooper in a phone interview. “I never worked closer with anybody in my entire life.”

Although Cooper has long had a reputation for mining the dark side of rock, Cooper said the credit (or blame) should be given to Ezrin.

“Some songs like ‘Steven’ and ‘The Awakening’ (both from ‘Welcome to My Nightmare’), a lot of the sickness came from him,” said Cooper.

When Cooper would come in with something a little macabre, the singer explained, “Bob will embellish it with some kind of keyboard or orchestra to make it even darker.”

“Then he’ll say, let’s twist it even more,” said Cooper.

Cooper has not been Ezrin’s sole musical outlet. He was the producer of Pink Floyd’s hit single “Another Brick in the Wall.” He also produced the smash “Shout It Out Loud” for Kiss.

“Bob can produce a hit single,” said Cooper.

“But he can go darker than me,” said the singer.

When Alice Cooper comes to the Grand Theater at Foxwoods on July 4, he will be coming with a new stage show dubbed, “Ol’ Black Eyes is Back.”

For this tour, Cooper said he is shaking things up.

But not entirely.

“There are 12 songs we have to do,” said Cooper. And fans expect those particular songs to sound like the original recordings.

Although the sound remains the change, Cooper said the visuals will change.

Again, but not entirely.

“I think people would feel cheated without the guillotine (in which his alter-ego is executed),” said Cooper. “That’s the part everyone wants to see.”

“The fun (as he prepared for the show) is knitting the whole set (new elements and old) together (getting it to flow),” said Cooper.

Although he is the final arbiter of how the show is shaped, Cooper said he makes his decision based on the advice of those around him.

“I surround myself with the very best people,” said Cooper. “I’m open to their ideas. I’m not a despot.”

If someone on his team makes a suggestion on something for the stage show, Cooper said, “We’ll try it and see if it works.”

Cooper said, after the last tour, he feels he has a pretty high bar to hurdle.

“The last show was so perfect,” said Cooper, “everything flowed perfectly.”

“Now we have to do a new show and hope it’s as good as the last one.”

In addition to the tour and the impending album with Ezrin, Cooper said a new Hollywood Vampires was set to be released June 21.

The Hollywood Vampires are Cooper, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, and actor Johnny Depp.

Although the group has a gaggle of alpha males roosting together in one musical barn, there has been nothing but peace in the neighborhood.

“There’s never been one argument, not one controversy,” said Cooper.

Each of the members is a fan of the others, said Cooper.

“The most shocking thing is Johnny has become the musical leader,” said Cooper. Depp has taken the lead for the group’s songwriting.

Depp’s style of songwriting doesn’t take a straightforward path. But Cooper digs it.

“I don’t understand what you’re saying,” Cooper said he tells Depp. “But I like how you are saying it.”

Alice Cooper performs Thursday, July 4 at 8 p.m. at the Grand Theater, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket. For more information, go to Foxwoods.com or AliceCooper.com.

Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver.com.

Alice Cooper

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