“This is the thing—we wanted to keep it in the realm of Detroit, so we did have to move around a little bit,” Cooper said. “You can’t leave Motown out of Detroit. So we wrote a song called ‘$1000 High Heel Shoes’ and I told Bob we should get the Detroit Horns and Sister Sledge and we’ll make this into a Motown song. Then you’ve got a blues song, and I brought Joe Bonamassa in. I wanted to play hard against his guitar because I knew I’d never get that chance again. Then we had a punk song, a hard rock song and a psychedelic kind of street song. I thought if we could capture all of Detroit’s feel, then that’s what we were going to do.”
For Cooper, the camaraderie he achieved on “Detroit Stories” is an extension of what he felt the first time he returned to Detroit after releasing his 1969 debut, “Pretties For You,” for Frank Zappa’s Straight label.
“The very first time we ever played in Detroit, we finally got this gig at the Saugatuck Pop Festival,” he recalled. “We came in from out of state. We were used to playing with The Doors, Love and bands like that. We come into Detroit and there’s 300,000 kids out there — long hair and the whole thing. We were louder than The Stooges and had more energy than The MC5. We were welcomed because we were a Detroit band. At the end of that show, we met everybody because The Stooges and MC5 were watching our show. This was something that they had never seen. We got along immediately and when they found out the band was from Detroit, that was the capper. We were the long-lost sons. The great thing about the Detroit scene was that everybody was cheering everybody else on. There was no backbiting or fighting. It was all about rock and roll. When I did interviews, I would talk about The Stooges, The MC5 and bands like that. I’d read their interviews and they’d talk about us. We were all promoting each other.”
Not unlike the homecoming feeling he got at that long-ago festival, Cooper feels the same way with what he accomplished on “Detroit Stories.”
“‘Detroit’ is in-your-face rock and roll,” he said. “It’s not produced on the level of ‘Welcome To My Nightmare,’ ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ or any of those big albums. That was in the era of the big production, where an album took four months to do. Everybody was bragging about how much it cost to do their album. This album was about capturing the live feel and there’s always going to be a little bit of Motown. If you take Wayne Kramer and Johnny Bee, who are walking Detroit — their DNA is just drenched in ‘Detroit.’ And if you put in Mark Farner and a few other great studio players in there, it’s in the DNA, that R&B is. Any other time I would say we shouldn’t hang on that. On this album I said, ‘Yes, absolutely.’ The thing is that it is Detroit. Hard rock is Detroit.”
Ryan Roxie, left, and Nita Strauss of the Alice Cooper band perform at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre on Sunday, July 21, 2019, in Chicago. (Photo by Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP)
Credit: Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP
Credit: Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP
And as the dean of masterful stage presentation and spectacle, Cooper promises fans all the bells and whistles people have come to expect on the current tour.
“It’s the full-on Alice Cooper show,” he said. “I’ve got the best touring band of anybody right now. Hurricane Nita Strauss and Ryan Roxie on guitar. Glen Sobel was voted best drummer a couple of years ago. [Nita] was voted best guitarist of the decade. So this band is unbelievable. We do all the hits and on top of it all, it’s probably the most theatrical show we’ve done since ‘Welcome To My Nightmare.’ It’s the full Alice package. Nobody will be disappointed in this show.”
Alice Cooper at Shaky Knees Music FestivalShaky Knees Music Festival
With Foo Fighters, The Strokes and Run the Jewels headlining. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 22-24. Three-day passes $219-$425; daily passes $99-$195; VIP passes also available. Central Park, 400 Merritts Ave. NE, Atlanta. shakykneesfestival.com.