Hanging With Alice Cooper: Rocker Talks Tap Dancing, Snakes and His Diary

By Sian Watson | Associated Press

LONDON — During the pandemic, shock rocker Alice Cooper replaced touring with tap dancing.

The 73-year-old rock icon went from touring with Queen and playing to crowds of 95,000 to an audience of zero. He admitted the transition was hard.

“It was like coming off of a drug because the adrenaline is your drug onstage. I mean, everybody’s sober. But you miss that adrenaline, that one-on-one,” he recalled, speaking from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Cooper isn’t a fan of Zoom and wasn’t converted to online performances during lockdown: “It’s still flat and there’s no audience. So don’t try to fake it.”

Instead, he spent his down time with his family in Phoenix developing an unlikely new skill — tap dancing. The family conducted practices in their back yard and, despite now being able to soft shoe, Cooper insists his new moves won’t make it into his stage show.

Finally back on the road, Cooper admitted he was even “giddy going into rehearsal,” adding “I feel more home onstage than I do offstage.” He headlined a Sept. 27 concert at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre.

Cooper is playing a number of live dates until November, and predicts he will be on the road for most of next year. One of the key elements of his live show are his snakes, which he says have an unpredictable nature.

“The funny thing about the boa constrictors is that they have a mind of their own onstage,” he said. “I just let her go wherever she’s got to go and I have to improvise with where she’s at. Every night it’s different.”

Aside from any snake-based improvisation, Cooper said it is getting harder to travel with his serpents since they now need passports instead of permits.

Could he declare his snake as a therapy animal? “I think the only difference would be that my snake might eat somebody else’s therapy animal,” he said, laughing.

Aside from making up for lost time on tour, his latest project is an Audible Original, called “Who I Really Am: Diary of a Vampire.”

The piece is narrated by Cooper who shares anecdotes from his life on tour, along with acoustic recordings of “I’m Eighteen,” “School’s Out” and “Poison.”

The tracks are acoustic, with production from his long-time collaborator Bob Ezrin. Cooper admitted it was “really fun” to do stripped-down versions of his songs, with just a guitar or a piano.

The Audible Original is just over two hours long and, with a career spanning over half a century, Cooper has plenty more stories up his sleeve.

“I’ve got to wait ’till about eight more people die before I write that book,” he smiled.

Pictured:  Alice Cooper performs in Chicago on July 21, 2019. The rock icon spent his down time during the COVID-19 pandemic with his family in Phoenix, developing an unlikely new skill — tap dancing. (Photo by Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP, File)

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