With a new Hollywood Vampires album, Rise, out and a tour of his own about to hit the road, a death pact is the furthest thing from Alice Cooper's mind — despite a report from a British paper to the contrary.
The tabloid took some recent Cooper comments about his marriage to his wife Sheryl Goddard to imply the two had made some sort of death pact so that, shades of Harry Potter, one could not survive without the other — an idea that's more poetic than true according to the shock rocker. "They like to sensationalize everything," the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame shock rocker, who's routinely executed at least once during his shows, tells Billboard. "They said, 'What happens if one of you dies?' and I said, 'Oh, that'll never happen. We've always talked about the fact we'll go together, in an airplane or…if I walk down the street and get hit by lightning, she’ll die too because of the fact she's right next to me.' The next thing you know the paper comes out and it goes 'Alice's Death Pact With Wife!'
"And our Internet just blew up. It was like, 'How far along is she?' and 'Is Alice gonna commit suicide?' and all that stuff, and it got so blown out of proportion it was all laughable. I had to put out a statement going, 'Look nobody's sick, nobody's gonna die. It was a throwaway line that I used that just got blown out of proportion.'"
The Coopers met when Goddard joined his Welcome to My Nightmare show in 1975. They married during March of 1976, and she returned to the act after their three children grew up, singing high harmonies offstage and playing a variety of roles in the show. "It's almost hard to do the show without her," Cooper says. "It's almost like Burns and Allen; We're backstage putting makeup on, talking, laughing. She's going, 'OK, when you stab me in the side, wait until my right arm gets way up 'cause it'll read better. And don't come down from the side, come in from the top.' 'OK, we'll try that tonight.'
"We've both been in show business all our lives. When we're on stage she's not Sheryl, my wife; She's the character and I'm the character. We don't look at each other as husband and wife on stage. But the great thing is, afterwards, we're on tour. We're never apart. It's great."
Cooper's summer tour with Halestorm and Motionless in White kicks off July 17 in Allentown, Pa. and will feature an entirely new stage production. "It's much more of a castle kind of look, like an old castle," Cooper reports. And while he "can't really give too many things away," he does say that the show includes a catapult that will send faux felines into the audience, and that the 14-foot puppet that's part of "Feed My Frankenstein" "gets wiped out by something better." The repertoire will also expand as he lets guitarist Nita Strauss have her way with "a bunch of songs we haven't done. We didn't do a whole lot of things off Constrictor or Raise Your Fist and Yell only because we didn't have a shredder. Now, having Nita, we can do songs like 'Roses on White Lace' or 'The World Needs Guts' or any of those things Kane Roberts used to play, because that's what she does."
There's plenty of new Cooper music around, too, though he notes that he and Joe Perry leaned on Johnny Deep for much of the songwriting on Hollywood Vampires' new Rise, which features mostly original material rather than the covers that dominated the band's 2015 self-titled debut. "We kinda let Johnny lead the way," says Cooper, who did write couple of the album's songs. "Joe and I purposely took our fingerprints off the album. I wanted it to be so original that it didn't sound like an Alice album or an Aerosmith album. If we put our trademarks on it, it's not going to sound like the Vampires."
Cooper, meanwhile, is still working with Bob Ezrin on a set inspired by the rock n' roll ethos of Cooper's hometown of Detroit. He's worked on material with fellow Motor City rockers such as Grand Funk Railroad alumnus Mark Farner, MC5 co-founder Wayne Kramer and Detroit Wheels/Rockets drummer Johnny "Bee" Badanjek, with original Alice Cooper band bassist Dennis Dunaway also contributing material. Seven songs have been completed, according to Cooper, and more writing and recording is scheduled during a tour break in August.
"We work really fast; We don't dilly-dally in the studio," says Cooper, who expects to finish the project in October for release during 2020. "We all knew each other back in the day, but now where we are 40 years later and it seems really natural. We go in the studio with these guys and it just clicks. I think it's because we're all Detroit guys, and we kinda know what we're looking for."