Access All Areas- On The Road With Alice Cooper
Fans, ghouls, lovers of American Horror Story,
You may have heard me rave incessantly about Alice Cooper. My fangirl antics have even led to me getting a tattoo on my forearm of the words “You & Me” in homage to Alice’s 1977 hit from his album “Lace & Whiskey” (the song reached number 2 in Australia). It’s OK – turns out this obsession with Alice is genetic. My mum got the same tattoo on her forearm as well. Groupie.
In 2009, I even tried to track down Salvador Dali’s original sculpture of Alice Cooper’s brain, after an interview with Alice in 2009. The Dali exhibition was in Melbourne at the time and the contact at the National Gallery of Victoria helped me track it down. The official response from the Dali gallery in Spain was that the original sculpture was possibly destroyed years ago as they don’t have it nor do they know its whereabouts. Unfortunately, due to the Great Windows XP Crash of 2009, I have since lost that email. I like to think Dali was buried with Alice’s brain.
So to get to my point, you, dear reader, are in for a treat. I have asked the very lovely Brian who is part of Alice Cooper’s super talented road crew to give you a taste (or is it bite?) of what it’s like being on the road with Alice. And to my surprise, delight and shock, Brian agreed. So Brian is going to be my partner in crime and help me co-write a few posts while he’s on tour with Alice on the No More Mr Nice Guy world tour. He’s even sharing some pics! What a dude. Show him some love!
This is not the greatest job in the world, this is just a tribute…
Brian has been on the road with Alice for 6 years. Here’s a view from where he works…Both of these cuddly critters belong to Brian…
It’s a Billion Dollar Baby!
“Is that a crocodile there, too?” I asked Brian when I first got the pic.
“The dino is Geico Lizard,” Brian emailed me.
It’s not a crocodile, people! It’s a dino. DINO.
And before you leave us comments saying, “What is the Billion Dollar Baby wearing on his hat?”
Brian has got that covered too: “It’s skull heads.”
If you look really hard, you can see the guitar to the left of the Billion Dollar Baby. Appropriate, since Brian is the guitar tech.
This is the stage set-up from the No More Mr Nice Guy tour in Mannheim, Germany. From the audience’s point of view, this is what the stage looks like. When taken with a weird iTouch app courtesy of Brian, it looks a little warped. But herein, the warped and wonderful things continue.
Stay tuned for some occupational hazards you might not see everyday. Well, unless you’re an extreme stunt artist or something. But Alice and his team are way cooler and have better music. High five!
I know when I go to work, there’s a million to one chance that I’ll run into a snake. I will encounter some snakes of the human variety (Ooh good one! *Boom tish*), but never a giant, organ-squeezing, so-alive-it-could-get-you albino python. This is just an everyday run-of-the-mill thing for Alice (who is afraid of needles, not snakes, mind you) and his team, including Brian. Although Brian doesn’t deal directly with the python, he snapped this awe-inducing pic of Alice and guitarist Steve Hunter hitting the stage with their slithering band mate a few months ago.
Brian told me they’ve never had any issues with PETA or any other animal welfare agency in the 6 years he’s been on the road with Alice, regarding the snake needing earplugs due to the noise levels or anything (ha!). They did, however, used to bring their own snake on the road with them from country to country, but since 9/11 and the stricter laws in place, they have to source a python locally. The python’s owner assists with the snake, and Alice’s assistant helps Alice on stage with it. However, there was a time when the python escaped (!!!) in a hotel.
At least we can safely say the python is an Alice fan just like us. And seems to dig the guitar. I vote the python as honorary band member for life.
This puts a WHOLE new mean to the term dirty laundry! When they tour Europe, this is what Brian calls the “Roadie Laundromat”.
This usually happens in Europe because they don’t have any dryers in hotel rooms, or as Brian wrote to me, “Why would someone by a washer and no dryer?”
So, sometimes, you end up, like Brian does in Italy, hanging your clothes outside on racks in the sunshine. And sitting there watching them dry and ensuring no one runs off with your pants.
Can anyone else spy a lot of black clothes? Makes sense!
You call that a knife? THIS is a knife!
Now we get down to the nitty gritty of what it’s really, really, really like on stage with the master of darkness, Alice Cooper. Brian is such a trooper; he shot the video (below) a couple of weeks ago, which shows what he faces with pythons, knives, a guillotine and swords on stage. Not all at once, of course.
This is just one example of a knife/sword-throwing incident that Brian deals with every night when Alice performs Halo of Flies. Brian and the drum technician usually leave the area, but Brian decided to video the throw, and the drum technician decided to squat down out of the way.
If you watch really closely, you see Alice come up to a mesh screen, which Brian is behind, and as he throws the knife, you can see the knife whiz right past Brian’s hand (see that little bit of hand movement, that’s the knife). It was about 6 inches (or 12 cms) from Brian’s hand and the camera. 12 centimetres, people! That’s not a lot between your hand and a knife. A very sharp knife thrown by Alice Cooper. This happened because the knife slipped as Alice let it go.
After Alice throws it, he runs off stage for a wardrobe change. So Brian picked up the knife and took it back to the props guru and Alice’s assistant. Brian said to them, “I think Coop is upset with my performance.” They asked why.
Brian said, “Because he threw this knife at me and ran away.”
They all started laughing, including Alice, “the greatest boss of all time” (Brian’s words), and proceeded on with the show. Aw!
So it’s proof that, although Coop is a larger-than-life rock villain and a seasoned swordsman and knife thrower, he is only human.
And I just wanted to include this note that Brian sent to me, as I thought it was so sweet, and to hear Brian in his own voice:
“All of us touring folk face adversities everyday, everywhere, but at the end of the day, we make it happen and hopefully send the fans home happy and the boss to the bus even happier.”
That’s part 1 done and dusted…
Maybe I can convince Brian to share some more stories… What do you think?
Psst… Just an update from the lair… Alice Cooper and his team found out about this post and popped on AliceCooper.com (and cue: fangirl FREAKOUT!). Here it is again, on Alice’s site, looking very snazzy, might I add: http://alicecooper.com/latest/alice-cooper/excerpt-access-all-areas-road-alice-cooper AND on the homepage at AliceCooper.com AND on the blog entries here: http://alicecooper.com/blogs/alicebackstage! Thank you Alice and team, and my pal and partner in crime, Brian!