“‘Who’s Laughing Now’ is him going, ‘Okay, you’ve set out everything you can do to destroy me, who’s laughing now? I’m still here. And I’m making these records and I’m still going to make movies and I’m still a better actor than most of the people out there. Who’s laughing now?’ – Alice Cooper about Johnny
He’s excited about Rise, the next album from his all-star “bar band” with actor Johnny Depp and Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry – though Cooper previously confirmed that he was largely uninvolved with the Hollywood Vampires’ writing process this time.
At the time, Depp was facing a wave of negative press – including a controversial story by Rolling Stone – that left a lot of people concerned about his well-being. Cooper says that naturally, his bandmate put what he was feeling about all of that into the material.
“I think he wrote a lot of songs on this album that are [to] get back at people,” Cooper says. “‘Who’s Laughing Now’ is him going, ‘Okay, you’ve set out everything you can do to destroy me, who’s laughing now? I’m still here. And I’m making these records and I’m still going to make movies and I’m still a better actor than most of the people out there. Who’s laughing now?’ There’s two or three songs like that on the album that I’m singing and going, ‘Wow, I’m the voice of Johnny’s anger. [Laughs.] Normally, I’m writing songs that concern me. Now, I’m sort of the mouthpiece for Johnny, which is great.”
He enjoyed being somewhat removed from the initial songwriting process. “It was really interesting for me, because when I do my show, I write all of the songs and I know why I wrote them and I know what they’re supposed to be,” Cooper explains. “On a lot of this album, I was on tour when they were writing this stuff and I would go in and touch this up and they’d say, ‘Okay, let’s cut this here, what do you think about this?’”
Cooper was often able to resist the normal urge to offer his editorial view. “On a lot of these songs, I did not go there. I said, ‘I’m not going to add what I would do here, because I don’t want it to sound like an Alice Cooper album,’” he says. “I want this to be the personality of the Vampires. And if that means that the B section goes too long, good, let it go too long. Normally, I would cut that in half, but I said, ‘No, no, let’s let it go long.’ If I think that doesn’t make sense right there, I kind of go: ‘Yeah, but that’s the personality of this song. Let’s not make it make sense. Let’s let it hang right there, so that it has a quality to me that I would never go there, but I did go there. To me, it was really interesting to do this album and kind of keep myself out of arranging it. It’s just more exciting for me to be the last voice in this thing.”
Guitarist Tommy Henriksen, one of Cooper’s longtime associates, got the nod to take the production reins on the new Hollywood Vampires album. “We let Tommy produce it. Tommy was the guy in there writing with Johnny, writing with me, writing with Joe – and he was also recording it, doing the demos,” Cooper says. “By the way, Tommy can do the best imitation of my voice that I’ve ever heard. He played me a couple of things and I went, ‘I don’t remember singing that!’ I went, ‘Are you kidding me?’ Because he has my phrasing down. He has everything down, to the point where it’s a little scary – because I really thought it was me singing. [Laughs.] So I said, ‘Take the helm of this.’”