Detroit Stories

Detroit Stories

For his 21st studio LP, shock-rock legend Alice Cooper has created a concept album that invokes his Motor City roots. It was back in 1970 that the original Alice Cooper Band rehearsed in a Michigan farmhouse under the watchful eye of producer Bob Ezrin for Love It to Death, the album that would include their first big hit in “I’m Eighteen.” Fifty years later, Cooper and Ezrin reunited to record Detroit Stories, an album inspired by and created in Detroit by an all-star cast of Detroiters like Wayne Kramer (MC5), Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad), Johnny “Bee” Badanjek (The Detroit Wheels), Steve Hunter, and the surviving members of the original Alice Cooper Band—not to mention “honorary Detroiter” and guitar hero Joe Bonamassa. “Hard rock is king in Detroit,” Cooper tells Apple Music. “So we wrote the songs there, recorded them there, and used all Detroit players. You can’t get more Detroit than Wayne Kramer and these guys.” Below, Cooper discusses a few of his favorite original and cover tracks from the album. Rock ’n’ Roll “We did this Velvet Underground song because Bob had worked with Lou Reed on two albums—Rock 'n' Roll Animal and Berlin. And I knew Lou from the Chelsea Hotel a long time ago, so he was a friend. The way that the Velvet Underground did it, it was sort of New York heroin chic. It was kind of throwaway, but that’s what made the Underground so cool. So I said, ‘Why don't we take this song and put a V8 engine in it? Get Joe Bonamassa on it, and this band, and let's just tear this song up.’ It’s already a classic, but this breathed new life into it.” Our Love Will Change the World “Every time I turn on Little Steven's Underground Garage, this Outrageous Cherry song comes on. And I think it's just because people can't get it out of their head when they hear it. The song is so happy, but the lyrics are subversive—and they’re from Detroit. It’s like the Children of the Damned singing to our generation, saying, ‘Our love is going to change the world—it’s going to be strange for you for a while, but you’ll get to know it.’ I played around with the lyrics a little bit to direct them more into ‘We’re a generation that just doesn’t care.’” Social Debris “This has the surviving members of the original Alice Cooper Band on it, and it’s sort of autobiographical. We never felt like we fit in. We were social debris. We didn’t fit in LA, we didn’t fit in San Francisco, we didn’t fit in New York. What we were doing onstage at the time was so violent—there was blood, there was a snake, there were baby dolls chopped up all over, we were wearing girls’ clothing that was all ripped up—and this was 1969, ’70. It scared the hell out of anybody on any drug. So the only place we fit in was Detroit. All the bands from Detroit—The Stooges, the MC5—were hard rock and in your face. We finally found a place where we fit. And of course Detroit itself is social debris—it was always the outcast city.” $1000 High Heel Shoes “You can't do a Detroit album and represent all the different kinds of music without doing a Motown song. I wrote this as a rock song, but as soon as we got in the studio, it already had the bones of a funk song. So I said, ‘Okay—let's go all the way with it, then. Let's bring in the horn section and the Motown girls and really turn it into a Motown song.’ And the song itself is about an Uber driver that works 24 hours a day just so he can get his girlfriend $1000 high-heel shoes because she likes to walk around naked in them. And we got Joe Bonamassa and Steve Hunter to play on it.” Drunk and in Love “Romeo and Juliet is a great love story, but so is a love story about a guy that lives in a box under a bridge with a bunch of other people standing around big oil cans trying to keep warm—and he’s in love with the girl who lives in another box. ‘Come stay in my box. I’ve got some wine, and we’ll keep warm.’ So it’s a very touching little love song. And just the fact that their situation is different than a normal one doesn’t mean their love is any less intense.” Independence Dave “Some of the characters on the record are people I either knew or knew were there—people like Independence Dave. He’s a great con man and drug dealer. Everybody likes him. He’s the big bopper. Everything revolves around him, so you’ve got to make the song happy. So I kind of patterned it after ‘Born in Chicago’ by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.” Shut Up and Rock “I always kind of liked the idea of a guy that is so out of touch that he’s not just politically incorrect, but he's politically incoherent. ‘I don't care about your politics; I don't care about what you did today; I don't care about your yoga class—just shut up and rock.’ When I was singing it, I'd go, ‘Oh my gosh, this is just so politically incorrect.’ And I thought, well—it should be. That's who this guy is. He has no idea. If you said ‘politically incorrect’ to him, he'd go, ‘What are you talking about? I don't even know what that means.’”

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