Exclusive Interview With Original ALICE COOPER BAND Drummer Neal Smith - "I Think The (R&R HOF) Nomination Is Sixteen Years Overdue"
October 3, 2010, 8 years ago
By Mitch Lafon
The ALICE COOPER BAND’s influence on the rock community is immeasurable. They created “the stage show” and delivered iconic rock songs such as ‘I’m Eighteen’ and ‘School’s Out’, but for some reason none of it mattered to the uber nerdy pseudo-hip Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame nominating committee. Well, that was until this year. The band (frontman Alice Cooper, drummer Neal Smith, late guitarist Glen Buxton, bassist Dennis Dunaway and guitarist/keyboardist Michael Bruce) finally got their criminally overlooked nomination. Even though, this doesn’t mean they’ve been ‘Elected’ to the hall, BraveWords.com sat down with original drummer Neal Smith to discuss what it means to him and his band.
BraveWords.com: Have you had a chance to speak to any of your former bandmates since the nomination was announced?
Neal Smith: “Dennis and I always throw emails back and forth to each other, but no. I know we’re all aware of it, but we haven’t talked about it.”
BraveWords.com: Are you surprised that it took so long for the Alice Cooper Band to be nominated?
Smith: "I want to be perfectly clear. This is the band that is being nominated because I’ve seen things on CNN and CBS where they have a picture of Damon Johnson and Alice… You will see that line blurred an awful lot during this process I’m sure. It’s the band and all five (original) members that are the nominees. You know me and from the word ‘go’, I’ve always been 100% behind everybody’s solo projects, but without the band nobody would have a solo project. I think the nomination is sixteen years overdue. Looking back historically, the vein of music that the band opened up… before that maybe Dr. John or Screaming Jay Hawkins touched on theatrics, but nothing to the extend of where we took it. So, to be totally ignored for sixteen years, to me, is still a bit of an insult. We didn’t change music as much as the show, but the music we had certainly has stood the test of time. That’s the one thing that surprises and humbles me more than anything… That people still want to listen to our music. That’s the greatest testimonial that we have. Alice is still out there basically doing the same stuff we did, but with a little bit of a spin on it. The bulk of the music is our original music and that’s great. I’m glad that fan can still hear it. It’s still not the same to me as when we play it.”
BraveWords.com: Would be nice to hear you play it again…
Smith: "It looks like we’ll be going out to Phoenix to play another of Alice’s X-Mas Pudding shows. We did it four years ago and this is the tenth anniversary. Alice has asked Dennis, Mike and I to join him and do some songs…”
BraveWords.com: If the Hall Of Fame does elect you, and since Glen is no longer with us, would you play as a four piece or bring somebody else in?
Smith: "In the past, we’ve brought in Damon Johnson. He’s a great guy and a great guitar player, but whether he’d go onstage with us there or not… The only thing I know is that, at least, a decade ago we all agreed that if by chance we were elected – we’d all play together.”
BraveWords.com: You brought up the word ‘insult’ before. Are you insulted that a band like ABBA was inducted before the Alice Cooper Band was even nominated?
Smith: "Well, it is the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame. I’m looking at this year’s nominees. How many of those acts are rock n’ roll? Maybe five. BON JOVI, J. GEILS and us… there might not even be five. I’m not sure what I would call NEIL DIAMOND. DONOVAN definitely isn’t rock. DONNA SUMMERS is not. I love THE STOOGES, but why are The Stooges in the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame? I love that band, but I don’t get it. What’s their significance versus a band like ours? But like with anything else there will always be the political aspect of it. The one thing that I find cool is that if Donovan and we make it… Donovan sang on the song 'Billion Dollar Babies' and it would be great that, if he’s at the ceremony, he sang 'Billion Dollar Babies' with us. Overall, it’s cool and like anything we do – I’m happiest for the fans. I know that they’ve signed petitions for years and at this point in my life and my career my motivation to do anything musically is for the fans. I’m happy and it would be a nice thing, but nothing will outdo the album Billion Dollar Babies being #1 at Cash Box, Record World and Billboard. That was the shocker of shockers for me… for April 1973 we were on top of the world.”
BraveWords.com: Are you currently working with Alice and Bob Ezrin on the Welcome To My Nightmare II project/ album?
Smith: "We have been in the studio, but that’s all I’m going to say at this point.”
BraveWords.com: So there is some validity to reports that you might be laying down one drum track for the album.
Smith: "Yes, and it does include Michael as well. Michael did join us in the studio, so it’s Mike, Dennis, Alice and I.”
BraveWords.com: “That’s fantastic.”
Smith: "There’s more than one track too.”
BraveWords.com: Even better! Let’s hope it’s a whole album…
Smith: "Well, it’s not that.”
BraveWords.com: As a long-suffering fan of the original Alice Cooper band – I’ll take what I can get.
Smith: "I just know that everything, right now, with everybody is very positive. When we’re all together, it’s exactly like the old days and like I said we’re going to go down to Phoenix and do a show together in mid-December. Last time we did that four years ago, fans flew in from Australia, Canada, Europe… We’re excited to do it and it’s for a great cause, but I still want to do something where we can play a bigger show for the fans.”
BraveWords.com: It would be nice to have you record a full show for a Blu-Ray/DVD release.
Smith: "That’s what I imagine. I like what Cream did with their reunion and I could foresee something like that… I don’t know if it’ll ever happen, but all I know is that as time goes on people are a little more willing to talk about it and consider it. We’ll see what happens.”
For whatever happens – stayed tuned to BraveWords.com.
For more info on Neal Smith visit Nealsmith.com.