Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dennis Dunaway Interview

On Friday night, June 19, 2015, Dennis Dunaway and Michael Bruce of the original Alice Cooper Group, along with Joe and Albert Bouchard, founding members of Blue Oyster Cult, played a house party at the infamous Evaline Hotel in Pittsburgh. I wrote an article about how the whole thing came together for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. You can read it HERE.

I plan on writing about the actual party and experience here soon. In the meantime, here's the rest of the short interview I did with Dennis.

How was the experience of writing the book? Did you keep a journal back then or was a lot of this an excavation of your memory?

DD: Like everything I do, I approached this book as a creative person that believes that all art forms are related. As a kid, I learned to paint, then as a teenager, I learned to play bass, and how to conceptualize lighting and staging. So writing a book was just another outlet for me to be creatively passionate about. Throughout my years with the Alice Cooper group, I jotted things down that I thought were interesting. At the end of each tour, I'd have piles and piles of notes in the bottom of my suitcase. When you write things down, you tend to remember them, even though every few years I'd flip through them and see things I'd forgotten. And my wife Cindy kept diaries.

From what I’ve read over the years it seems that you and Cindy had a lot of influence on the look and thematic elements of the Alice Cooper Group. It was a mix of the shiny glitter and glam with darker imagery coming through in the lyrics and stage show. I would like to hear your comments on these elements.

DD: Cindy grew up loving glitter and sequins, and always liked the shimmering razzle-dazzle of Hollywood films like Busby Berkley. I had a different take on it. I loved the shock value of guys dressing in a way that shook up society. And I loved the concept of spotlights reflecting off a stage so brightly that it would be difficult for the audience to see everything that was going on. But perfect sequin outfits wouldn't do. That was too happy. Ours had to be ripped and stained and threatening.

So I know you’ve been working with Blue Coupe for the last few years, and I know that you and the rest of the original band briefly carried on as Billion Dollar Babies... what other projects have you been involved with over the years?

DD: Neal Smith and I had a band called the Flying Tigers. The great Jerry Wexler took us in the studio for a 4 song demo. Then personal issues side tracked us. Later on, as Bouchard, Dunaway and Smith, we did a couple of CD's with Joe Bouchard of Blue Öyster Cult fame. Then I had a band called Dennis Dunaway Project that released Bones From The Yard. Ian Hunter was involved with that. Blue Coupe is a trio with Joe Bouchard and his brother Albert. The Bouchard brothers wrote a lot of the BÖC classics. We've been friends since they toured with the Alice Cooper group in '72. So we have tons of songs in our respective catalogs. We're all songwriters, and we love playing live. We released a couple of CD's of new songs. Tornado on the Tracks and Million Miles More. Our backup singers are Tish and Snooky of Manic Panic, the famous hair dye company.

At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction performance you looked like you were having the time of your life. If you can pick one, which of your contributions to Rock are you most proud of?

DD: I really was having the absolute time of my life. After years of feeling like I had been erased from my own history, that night validated my contribution. And more importantly, I was on stage with my favorite musicians, who happen to be my lifelong friends. I'm infinitely proud of our lasting music, and our pioneering achievements in bringing the feeling of danger and spectacle to rock shows.

How did Dereck talk you into coming to Pittsburgh and playing this event?

DD: After years of looking for the right publishing deal, Dereck showed up and, with his girlfriend's expert help, everything fell into place. Dereck had told me about his amazing concert parties. Then when he heard that the R&RHoF would be hosting my book signing event for Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs: My Adventures in The Alice Cooper Group, he mentioned having Blue Coupe swing by his place. I hope he was serious because I took him up on it! And now he's gone hog-wild on making it into a blow-out extravaganza. As the Alice Cooper group would say, he's setting his chickens free!