Alice Cooper and Deep Purple play Starplex Pavillion on Saturday, Aug. 19.
It’s been almost two years since the surviving members of the Alice Cooper group re-formed for an in-store performance at Good Records, and people are still talking about it. Two songs from the eight-song set came out on a 7-inch that was a Black Friday exclusive last year. The Good Records version of “I’m Eighteen” was released as a B-side of Cooper's new single, “Paranoiac Personality.”
It was a rare chance to see Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith play with Cooper sans makeup, guillotines, snakes or explosions. Their Beatles-tinged garage rock and blues still hold up decades later.
“When our band broke up, we didn’t break up with any bad blood,” Cooper tells the Dallas Observer. “There were no lawsuits. We all went to high school together. We ran track together. We were on the cross-country team together. We started the band together. When we broke up, it was not a divorce. It was a separation. We always kept the door open for any time we could get together, we would.”
He says when Good Records invited him to play in 2015, his response was, “Oh yeah, I’ll be there.”
When Bruce, Dunaway, Smith and Cooper (born Vincent Furnier) got back together, they found their bond still intact.
“I still feel like we’re the Alice Cooper Band,” Cooper says. “It’s an odd relationship, but at the same time, it seems very natural to me that we can all work together and never have a problem.”
The show took Cooper back to the band's first days playing small bars.
“We were used to a little stage like that, only we would have been playing Yardbirds songs, Kinks songs and Who songs,” he says with a laugh. “Every great rock band started in bars and little clubs. The Beatles did, the Stones did, the Yardbirds did. That’s how you get good. You play four sets a night for $20 apiece, but your band gets really tight.”
Because of that work ethic, when he got up to sing at Good Records, he knew exactly what the band was going to play and what to do.
“None of that goes away,” Cooper says.
The help of Bruce, Dunaway and Smith — in addition to Larry Mullen Jr. from U2, Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top and Roger Glover from Deep Purple — made the latest album, Paranormal, a great project. Once again, Cooper worked with producer Bob Ezrin, who has produced a dozen records for him.
“He’s my George Martin,” Cooper says, drawing a parallel to the relationship the Beatles had with their producer.
Ezrin and Cooper didn’t set out to make a concept album; it’s something they have done plenty of times before.
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“We wrote 13 great songs, and I listened back to them after I was all done and I went, 'I accidentally wrote a concept album,'” Cooper says with a laugh. “All the characters had some sort of abnormal thinking process or some abnormal thing going on in their life. In the end, I hadn’t named the album yet. I said, ‘Well the only thing that really connects all these people is the paranormal.’”
Lately, Cooper has been headlining European festivals that predominantly feature metal bands. He knows his warm melodies, harmonies and grand choruses are outliers.
“When we come on last, it’s like ‘Springtime for Hitler,’” he says. “Their mouths are open, kind of like, 'What is that?'”
Alice Cooper, with Deep Purple, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, Starplex Pavilion, 3839 S. Fitzhugh Ave., $18 and up, livenation.com.