“I’m canceling all finals!” Declaring rocker Alice Cooper to a standing ovation, he closed his headlining show onstage at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois with a rocker call to arms with “School’s Out” earlier this month.
Cooper and company have arrived just below the University of Illinois campus as the summer semester draws to a close, an early stop on the group’s all-new tour, Too Close for Comfort.
Cooper made the cover of Forbes magazine’s April of 1973 feature titled “A New Breed of Tycoon,” moving more than 50 million albums in the five decades that followed.
Incorporating elements of everything from vaudeville to horror flicks, he manages to keep his vibe fresh even 54 years after the release of his first Alice Cooper album, revving things up again as he gears up for more dates this summer.
Cooper and his cast are set to get back together for a long road trip starting alongside Motley Crue and Def Leppard on August 5, 2023 in Syracuse, NY before an even longer outing with fellow shock rocker Rob Zombie. September.
“It’s a whole new show. We’re doing a song called ‘Snakebite,’ which Alice hasn’t played live since 1991,” explained guitarist Nita Strauss backstage before the concert in Champaign. I replaced another song. And it was perfectly audible in rehearsal. We were doing a song and Alice said, “Well, I want to use Snake later on the set. Too bad we don’t have any other songs we could use all of this Snake Video content for. I literally leaned all the way on the riser and said, ‘How about ‘Snake Bite ?! “And they loved him.”
After a short vacation last summer, when she left to join pop star Demi Lovato on tour, Strauss returned to Cooper’s band. After joining in 2014, it made her the newest member of the group, a tight band who have now been working together for nearly ten years.
“We’re really a family here. We really made it back on day one and we didn’t miss a thing. Especially that three guitar element: me, Ryan Roxy and Tommy Henriksen, we get it,” Strauss said. “Almost like a mind mixed with the three of us, you know? Ryan and I couldn’t be more than two different guitar players. But when we play the same thing at the same time, even our vibrations match. It’s all the little things that just come up – our subtleties and nuances of the picking attack. If one goes up, the other goes up. It is not one going up and one going down. “We just lock ourselves inside,” she explained. “And on stage, too, we have a wonderful relationship. We naturally, if one moves forward, the other comes back. It’s like a game of chess. And we’re all very aware of where Alice is. He’ll go where he wants and we fill in holes where he’s not.”
“Banned in Illinois!” Read the fake newspaper headline on the backdrop surrounding the band as Cooper took to the stage in Champaign, launching a 25 hit with “Lock Me Up.” The band wasted no time building up to hits, as “No More Mr. Guy” followed immediately after.
“Lines are forming on my face and hands…” Cooper sang Early, now 75, during one of his biggest hits on “I’m Eighteen.”
Light on the Illinois banter, Cooper let his music do the talking, and Strauss leaned back and left it to him during “I’m Eighteen” with Cooper pushing it away. Strauss returns to her right, ripping an early solo during “Under My Wheels” and Cooper quickly turns to the band and clap, hand above his head as he faces drummer Glenn Sobel.
Always a fan of props, Cooper returned to the stage for the title track of his greatest hits album, 1973’s Billion dollar kids. The three-guitar attack of Strauss, Roxy, and Henriksen was never more ferocious than in this cut, as confetti cannons fire fake $100 bills complete with Cooper’s vision and the signature of fictional Treasury Secretary Shep Gordon (Cooper’s longtime manager). Strauss and Roxy huddled left as Cooper comically landed a killing fence punch in their duel with Henriksen on their right.
Enjoying a bluesy hit just two hours south of Chicago, Cooper picked up a harmonica for “Fallen In Love,” pairing with Strauss and her signature green guitar “Hurricane” Ibanez with a live Snake as “Snakebite.”
On his way to the far right of the stage’s reach point, Cooper serenades a young fan in the front row as her mom films with a phone, handing the baby a brace while the band performs “Poison.”
Following “Feed my Frankenstein,” a video of Cooper and horror icon Vincent Price was projected onto the screen, pulsing with drama to build up the bass and driving the show’s narrative as each guitarist progresses in a solo.
Cooper quickly donned a straight jacket for “Ballad of Dwight Fry” before beheading on stage as a courtesy, our hero eventually returning in a white cap as the show neared its final moments.
While working on a new Alice Cooper album, his 29th studio effort, Strauss prepares to welcome in a busy 2023, as she prepares to release her second solo album. Void Call (Now available for pre-order on CD or vinyl ahead of release via Sumerian Records on July 7).
Strauss’ new album features Cooper on “Winner Takes All” as well as guests like In Flames singer Anders Fridén on the new single “The Golden Trail.”
Ahead of this new record, Strauss is also preparing to launch her June 13 solo tour in Nashville, an outing that runs into mid-July.
“We both played on each other’s records for the first time this year: I played Alice Cooper’s record for the first time and he sang on my record,” said the guitarist. “We had a live recording, An evening of the supernatural at The Olympia Paris, which was actually shot on my birthday which is awesome. But other than that, this is my first time [playing on an Alice album]. The band also wrote the record. We wrote the majority of the records as a band. Strauss explained, which is great. “Isn’t it like the pro — the ever consummate professional. It’s just a fun time.”