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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

School’s out for summer: Alice Cooper set to rock Northern Quest

Alice Cooper, left, is still bringing the rock and shock to fans across the country. He and his band will be at Northern Quest Resort & Casino on Sunday. (Joel Ryan / Invision/AP)
By Tyler Wilson For The Spokesman Review

June is Alice Cooper’s time of year.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and “Godfather of Shock Rock” knows his 1972 smash, “School’s Out,” will endure long after he’s dead and gone.

“It was played in every school, not just in America, but all over the world,” Cooper said in an interview with The Spokesman-Review. “It was the only single that I thought, if this isn’t a hit, then I should be selling shoes in North Dakota somewhere.”

Cooper will perform “School’s Out” and other hits, as well as songs from his upcoming album, “Paranormal,” at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Northern Quest Resort and Casino.

Attendees can also expect the horror-theatrics that have defined Cooper’s five-decade career.

“It’s a pure Alice Cooper show with the snakes and guillotine and the straight jacket, but there’s a bunch of stuff you haven’t seen before – there’s a 13-foot Frankenstein,” Cooper said. “It starts in fourth gear and stays there … it’s like a freight train and every single song has some theatrical device.”

The original Alice Cooper band released its first album in 1969 but became a mainstream sensation in the 1970s with classic albums like “Love It to Death” and “Billion Dollar Babies.” Cooper, birth name Vincent Furnier, would later adopt the band’s name to launch a solo career. He’s also recognized for his cameo in the 1992 film, “Wayne’s World,” where main characters Wayne and Garth bow to the rocker and famously declare, “We’re not worthy!”

“That was our reintroduction to the next generation,” Cooper said. “The one kind of music that doesn’t slip away is hard rock. It’s always held its own through grunge and new age and everything else … I never back up from that. Every album is going to rock.”

Cooper said not enough modern bands carry the hard rock torch, making it all the more important for him to continue producing new material.

“The younger generation has lost their outlaw,” he said. “If you’re gonna be in a rock and roll band, don’t be a band that fades into the wallpaper. Every rock band in our generation had an image, a look, a sound. You knew who it was. Now they’re all interchangeable.”

Cooper maintains a high personal standard on everything he releases. For the new album, out July 28, Cooper wrote 25 songs but insisted on only releasing the best 12.

“I’m always thinking I haven’t written my best songs yet, so you’re always trying to write the best songs,” he said.

“Paranormal” will include two songs Cooper recorded with his former bandmates of the original band – guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith. Original lead guitarist Glen Buxton died in 1997.

“We really did lose our heart and soul with Glen Buxton – he was our Keith Richards, the quirky guitar player,” Cooper said. “He was totally irreplaceable, we really couldn’t be the same after that.”

The original Alice Cooper band was the iteration that was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. Cooper said the new album’s reunion isn’t all that surprising, given how the band remained close even after they parted ways creatively.

“We just ran out of gas, nobody was angry,” he said. Recording on the new album “was natural, it didn’t feel like it was a stretch.”

As for the live show, Cooper said he’s working with the best touring band of his career.

“The one thing I know is going to happen is they’re going to be dead on,” Cooper said. “We get to be in The Show. The most fun you have all day should be on stage, and they feel that way.”

“I believe the next show is going to be better than all the others,” he said.

While Cooper will always be known for his shocking performance moments (the new album is touted as full of “twisted ‘Twilight Zone’ tales”), the 69-year-old musician enjoys being upstaged by his 2-year-old twin grandchildren.

“If we could harness their energy we could run the country,” Cooper said.