How Alice Cooper Learned to ‘Be Merciless’ in Detroit
Alice Cooper recalled how he and his band learned to “be merciless” with audiences after their move to Detroit in 1970.
They were quickly adopted by the local music scene and found themselves performing alongside Iggy Pop and the Stooges and MC5, leading to the discovery of new energy onstage.
In a new interview with Uncut, Cooper said he immediately felt at home among “freaky people doing freaky things with a big powerful sound.”
"Playing with Iggy and MC5 was great for us,” the shock-rock legend said. “We’d got so used to following Spirit or somebody like that. They were great musicians but didn’t have that electricity and drama.” Things were different in the Motor City, he noted. “The MC5 were just pure Detroit. They were a little bit R&B, they were hard rock, they were politically charged and they were all such good musicians.”
He added that "the Stooges were so hypnotic. They would just sit there and they never got in the way of Iggy’s theatrics, who was as nasty as it got. I saw we could do something like that. Darker, dangerous, more blood, more force. The way that works is the band just attacks the audience, the band has to be merciless with the crowd. All those three bands – MC5, Stooges and Alice Cooper – worked so well together because we were three different types of theater.”
But MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer argued that the Alice Cooper Band were ever “really dangerous." “I saw the theatrical side of their band really emerge and blossom," he said. "It didn’t scare you. It was crazy and wild and fun, but it wasn’t Iggy. He was really scary, dancing like a dervish, possessed. You never got the sense with Iggy it was for show. It was a way of life.”