TORONTO -- It's not such a wonderful, wonderful world anymore, Alice Cooper said yesterday during a promotional trip in Toronto.
That explains the title of his latest album, the hard-rocking, apocalyptic-themed Brutal Planet.
"It's by far the darkest thing I've ever written, because it's reality-based," said The Coop, 52, during a Canadian newspaper exclusive with The Sun. "Reality's pretty dark."
This from the man who pioneered theatrical shock rock in the early '70s with simulated executions on stage.
"When I'm writing things that are fictional -- like Welcome To My Nightmare and Last Temptation, I'm creating places to take Alice that are all fictionally based, so they're lighter, they're generally fun," he said. "Brutal Planet -- I started writing it as a piece of fiction and realized that the three or four scariest songs on the album were all from CNN."
They are Blow Me A Kiss (about the Columbine shootings), Wicked Young Man (about hate groups in America) and Pick Up The Bones (about the war in Kosovo).
"I literally saw that on CNN," said Cooper about the latter song. "I saw the guy collecting his family in a pillow case. I couldn't believe it. I sat there and I said, 'Stephen King couldn't write this.' Nobody would believe it. I was in the midst of writing Brutal Planet, and I started getting all this evidence that we're already there."
WE DON'T REACT
The even greater horror, said Cooper, is that we don't react.
"We live in these convenient little pockets called Toronto, Phoenix," said the Arizona-based rocker. "We might as well have the glass bubble put over top of us, because we're so insulated. There are 65 wars going on this planet right now! But everybody talks about how enlightened we are. Everybody talks about how technology is bringing the global community together, and 'Isn't it great that we're living in such a time of peace?' Genocide is rampant!"
As you might expect, some of Brutal Planet's lyrics are heavy, and Cooper expects some flak, particularly when it comes to Wicked Young Man, in which the protagonist talks about having 'a pocketful of bullets and a blueprint of the school.'
"Well, don't you think we ought to know who this guy is?" he said.
"I think Alice should write about him, should describe him, should warn you about him. He's here. We can't just sweep him under the rug. As much as I hate Columbine, we can't just let that be just another page in history. We need for that to be something that's in our face for quite a while, because, I mean, if that wasn't a wake-up call, what was?"
Cooper, who has three children, aged seven to 19, said he is genuinely concerned about the state of the planet. But he would never put the blame on increasingly violent entertainment.
"I took exception to their blaming rock and roll because, of course, it's the easiest target. Rock and roll! How does a parent not know his kid's got 50 bombs in the garage. I have a 15-year-old son. I know if he's got a firecracker. I know if he's got a BB gun. I'm in touch with him. I'm connected to him. How do you not know your kid's got (enough) to wipe out an army with weapons?"
Still, Cooper, who won't perform in Toronto until spring, did say he has some problems with his '90s counterpart -- Marilyn Manson.
"I'm Christian and I'm sitting there going, 'How dare you tear up the bible on stage?' He even pissed me off. And this whole AntiChrist Superstar. Personally, as a Christian, I took real exception to that. I wasn't surprised by it."
He was surprised, however, that Manson adopted a style similar to his.
"I figured anybody that creative would go out of his way not to look like Alice Cooper. To name yourself Marilyn Manson -- that's like coming out with a band that looks like KISS and calling yourself 'Smooch.'
"It's a little too close, isn't it?"