You don’t get more “Wayne’s World” than sitting in front of Joe Perry of Aerosmith and Alice Cooper and asking them questions; it was a very “we’re not worthy” moment. But like Wayne, Garth, and this writer, the two legends remain big fans of rock music themselves, and that’s what led to their creation of their new band, the Hollywood Vampires, which sees them covering Led Zeppelin, the Who and Pink Floyd, among others. In the studio, they’re joined by a rotating cast of musicians including Paul McCartney, Zak Starkey, Dave Grohl and Joe Walsh, Slash and AC/DC‘s Brian Johnson. Their self-titled debut is out now. When they play their three scheduled live shows (September 16 and 17 at the Roxy in Los Angeles, September 24 at Rock in Rio), they’ll be joined by Duff McKagan on bass and Matt Sorum drums.
Besides Perry and Cooper, the band’s other permanent members is Johnny Depp, the former guitarist in ’80s L.A. band the Kids; he apparently went on to an acting career of some note. Mr. Depp was unable to make the interview, unfortunately.
But Cooper and Perry (who arrived a few minutes late) were both extremely charged up to talk about their new project, which seems like a nice break from their respective day jobs.
Hollywood Vampires is a group of rock legends—with Johnny Depp on guitar—that pay tribute to their fallen hard-partying friends through rock ’n’ roll.
“We’re doing a Pink Floyd song today that I don’t know at all, ‘Welcome to the Machine,’” Alice Cooper tells me almost immediately after we say hello, with a hint of fear in his voice. “They’re doing some kind of a tribute album and they said, ‘We want you to do this song,’ and I’m thinking, ‘The timing on these lyrics is so wacky and the melody line just kind of lays there,’ and the more I listened to it the more worried I got. So this is going to be a nightmare today.”
When I tell Cooper that it took Pink Floyd friend Roy Harper to nail the vocal he’s instantly relieved. “Oh, good! Honestly that makes me feel better,” Cooper says, loosening up visibly. “Now I can walk in and feel OK. I have so little ammunition.”
Cooper is in New York with Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry to promote their new album, Hollywood Vampires, named for the legendary mid-’70s Los Angeles nightly drinking club that included Cooper, John Lennon, Keith Moon, Bernie Taupin, Harry Nilsson, and “just about anyone who was in town who could seriously drink,” according to Cooper. The album is made up of a fistful of song covers, many completely reimagined by some of the original Hollywood Vampires, as well as two original songs by Cooper that pay a more personal tribute.