Alice Cooper could see that it was time to come in off the road.
“We’re in Berlin,” he says. “And you can feel it coming. Italy is already a mess. Spain is starting to become a mess. Germany is starting to catch it. They canceled a show in Zurich, our third show. I went, ‘Uh oh. It’s a house of cards now.’ “
Cooper played his final European date on March 10 in Berlin.
“They said ‘We’re gonna close the borders,’ ” Cooper says. “So we got in the bus, drove to Munich, got on a plane and the only thing they asked us when we got back to the States was ‘Have you been to China or Italy?’ We went ‘no’ and they said, ‘Welcome home.’ “
Upon his safe return to Arizona, the musician announced that he’d postponed his spring North American tour in response to the spread of coronavirus, settling into his Paradise Valley home for some quality time with his family.
Alice Cooper’s home with Netflix, Hulu and family
“For me and Sheryl, two months off is great,” he says, referring to his wife of 44 years, who also dances and sings all the high harmonies in his show. “The golf courses are open. You’re sitting here with Netflix and Hulu. We haven’t had one problem getting food or anything.
“I feel less vulnerable in my house than I do in a different hotel every day. You don’t know who’s been there, what they’ve touched. When I was in Europe, I spent all day doing Purell, washing my hands. Every time you would touch something, you’d realize ‘Well, how do you know that wasn’t infected?’ “
His daughter Sonora, who’s five months pregnant, has moved in with her husband, Diego Diaz, at her dad’s suggestion.
“I said, ‘Why don’t you just stay here and we’ll keep it all in house?’ That makes it kinda nice, actually. In some ways, you kind of think it’s God’s way of telling everybody, ‘Slow down. Everybody get back with your families.’ “
‘I am the glass-three-quarters-full guy’
It’s the sort of reaction you’d expect from Cooper, who despite the darkness of his image, tends to have a fairly sunny disposition.
“I am the glass-three-quarters-full guy,” he says. “I look at things like this and go, ‘Yeah, it’s a horrible thing.’ But there’s also another side to it of everybody kind of pulling together and families sort of being forced to … get reacquainted.”
They’ve even had a family wedding in their home since getting back from Germany.
“My 86-year-old father-in-law just got married here,” he says. “A very small wedding, just family. So we’ve had a house full of company.”
As to whether he’s concerned about the possibility of contracting COVID-19, Cooper says, “I’m not scared of this thing. … But you’ve got to consider everybody. You never know what the guy next door’s health problems are.”
He’s more concerned with older people like his mom, who’s 94.
“My mom is in a place now – a really nice place – but we can’t visit her,” he says. “They have totally locked it down. … If they get it, they have a much, much harder time getting rid of it.”
How the coronavirus pandemic is affecting his work and fans
Cooper’s been doing his radio show from home. And if he wanted to write songs, he could. “The only thing I can’t do,” he says, “is go out and perform.”
As to the financial fallout of putting his touring on hold, Cooper says, “We’re not sitting around worrying about our next meal.”
But for the people who rely his tours for their livelihood, “we have to make sure that they’re taken care of,” Cooper says. “There’s a certain responsibility, especially to employees that you’ve had for a really long time that you realize are working from paycheck to paycheck. They have families.”
He feels badly for fans. “Some buy their tickets a year in advance and they plan their vacations around it,” he says. “I don’t know how you can help that. You just have to reschedule and say, ‘Do your best to get there.’”
His new album is in the works – from a distance
While Cooper is chilling, producer Bob Ezrin is home in Toronto, mixing Cooper’s latest album, “Detroit Stories.”
“I’m done with it myself,” Cooper says. “The next project will probably be a new (Hollywood) Vampires album. But we haven’t even started on that.”
Cooper was born in Detroit as Vincent Furnier and moved to Phoenix as a child.
He and the other members of the original Alice Cooper group – guitarists Glen Buxton (who died in 1997) and Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith — met in Phoenix, moved to California and had relocated to a farm near Detroit by the time they cut their breakthrough single, “I’m Eighteen.”
“Detroit Stories” is a tribute to the place that city holds in Cooper’s heart.
They even brought in veterans of the Detroit scene to work on it, including Wayne Kramer of the MC5, Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad and Johnny “Bee” Badanjek of Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels.
“There’s a certain thing about Detroit that is hard rock,” Cooper says. “But the players in Detroit have always had a certain amount of R&B built into the way they play, which gives the whole album a different kind of taste to it. You’ll hear Alice going in a couple of directions you wouldn’t normally hear me go in, which I think is refreshing.
“Every song is sort of a story about Detroit or even fictitious stories about Detroit.”
While fans wait on that album and Cooper’s return to the road, the singer is encouraging those fans to listen to the CDC.
“We’ve got to conform to the guidelines so nobody gets sick,” he says. “The sooner everybody does that, the faster this thing will be over. We should all get through this in the next month or so, so you know, you can get out and get a suntan.”