Interviewed by Greg Schmitt
Date: February 22nd, 2006
Hello Kane, welcome to Rockeyez. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us. It seems you've been out of the spotlight for a while; please tell us
what you've been up to lately?
Trying to stay involved in creative projects as much as possible.
Who were your influences growing up?
Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and sax players like Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane.
Most fans first heard of you as Alice Cooper’s guitarist during his
80's MCA heavy metal comeback albums. How did you get the gig?
My tape landed in the hands of Bob Ezrin (produced “The Wall” etc). He
suggested I hook up with Alice to begin writing and see what gives. Alice and I hit it off. Ezrin is one of the most innovative and insightful people to walk the earth. I was very lucky to have caught his attention.
Were you a fan of the original Alice Cooper band; any apprehension about filling the shoes of Michael Bruce / Glen Buxton?
I wasn’t a fan of any individual player, necessarily. I always seemed to judge that band as a collective energy type of thing. I’ve met some of them, and they’re really great guys and I know they still make great music. It’s not my nature to feel apprehensive about stuff like that. I can admire/respect someone's work without feeling pressure to match or surpass their effort. An artist’s standard of creative output has to come from within.
During your time with Alice, was there ever any talk of them reforming the original Alice Cooper band?
We discussed having some of them play on the first album (“Constrictor”). That would have been a gas! It just never happened.
“Constrictor” was the first of two Alice albums you'd written and played on. What are your recollections about the recording of “Constrictor”?
Just excitement, I was excited to be working with such an amazing artist as Alice and hooking up with manager/mentor Shep Gordon.
I believe Beau Hill produced that one. Is that where the Kip Winger connection came from?
Yes. Beau was cool and he suggested Kip and some of the other players. Ultimately, we took the tapes to Michael Wagener where we re-recorded a lot of the tracks. Wagener is off the hook when it comes to an overall understanding of the production and engineering process. We still work together and he always wants to punch me in the face and then eat sushi.
To me, that production always seemed rather stark. The drums (drum machine?) and keyboards almost have a “demo” feel. What are your thoughts on its production, in hindsight?
That comes from the initial elements being incorrect on the first go-round as I mentioned. We were looking for a somewhat bare-boned approach so what you’re feeling is intentional (although we wanted you to like it!) A real drummer is very often better but there were budget and time constraints... oh well.
On the “Constrictor” tour, I remember many classic songs being
re-arranged, and in some cases, actually being re-written. Whose idea was it, to; I guess, "metal-ize" the set list? I also recall many new parts to “I Love The Dead,” which, musically, would eventually become “Gail.” Please elaborate.
Alice and I set out to layer some different colors on the older material. Quite a daunting task as those songs, too many, are sacred ground. Alice still has a rebellious side and he wanted to upset the apple cart a little, so we added some different influences to the classic songs. Some of the ideas worked better than others, but it was an overall success to both of us.
Your bodybuilding look back then, was that something you did on your own, pre-Alice, or did the Cooper camp encourage the over-the-top / steroids image?
Alice and I are both obsessive about everything we do. The weightlifting caught me and I went a little crazy with it. I stopped when I realized that the smaller my legs got, the bigger my dick looked.
After “Constrictor,” you released your self-titled album on MCA. Were those songs you had before joining Alice?
Yes. The “funniest album cover in history” is the most distinctive element of that CD.
Any talk of re-releasing that CD. I remember seeing the video for “Rock Doll” every now and then.
I found the next Cooper album, “Raise Your Fist And Yell,” a lot more satisfying as a heavy metal fan. Who decided to make the switch to Michael Wagener? The addition of Ken Mary (future House of Lords drummer) to the recording process was like night and day. Please tell us your memories of its recording.
We came of the road and hit the ground running. Wag was my idea and an easy sell because he’s so good at what he does. Alice and I wanted to capture the energy from playing live and we also wanted to make the CD more of a theatrical effort. “Prince of Darkness” to “Roses on White Lace” is to be viewed as a serial killer's descent into dementia.
There was a fantastic tour for “Raise Your Fist And Yell.” In support, you had Frehley’s Comet and Faster Pussycat. Any wild tour memories / road stories you could share?
At this point, it’s mostly a GIGANTIC feeling. Alice and I stayed together in the back of the bus and watched movies etc. I’m glad we were such good friends because the bunks were way too small for me. I do remember us selling out Wembley in Great Britain. On that night, I pointed my guitar (which shot flames at the end of my featured solo) at Alice and a fireball exploded from the muzzle and rocketed 40 feet across the stage and hit Alice. Uhhh, not intentional!!! We laughed about that later but the crowd loved it!
What led to your leaving Alice's band? Were you ever approached for Winger?
It was time. Alice and I are still friends, to say the least. No on the Winger thing. Reb Beach is a great guitarist and perfect for Winger’s sound.
In addition to contributing to the soundtrack, you also had a bit part
in the movie “Shocker.” Was this your first involvement with movies? Please tell us how it came about.
BIIIG Wes Craven fan. Heard he was making a movie and tried out for a role. Unbelievably, he gave me a bigger part!
The next we heard from you was in 1991 for the AOR classic “Saints & Sinners.” How did the whole Geffen deal and working with Desmond Child come about?
I was signed by A&R legend Michael Alago (Metallica / White Zombie) and the hook-up with Desmond was a natural (I believe Shep Gordon suggested him).
What do you remember about recording that album and working with Desmond? (It's definitely a melodic rock fan favorite!)
Desmond is truly prolific and has a work ethic that’s kind of astounding. He’s still knocking out hits! I was hitting my stride in a lot of areas, and was very excited about the future recordings.
I know there were videos to promote the album. Did you do any touring for the album's release?
No. I did a promotional tour and was very pleased to see the single it was number 1 in a lot of cities (Cincinnati, Boston etc). MTV resisted for some reason, but it was a total blast meeting so many people etc.
You also co-wrote “Take It Off” on Kiss – “Revenge.” How did that come about, and were there any other songs or stories from that collaboration?
I had met Paul Stanley during the soundtrack recording for the movie “Shocker”. Bob Ezrin had me come in and write with Paul and it was a joy. His success comes from a massive dose of talent and is NOT an accident. He and Gene are so over the top intense about their work. Paul was real easy to work with and we wrote and played at the studio and his house in Hollywood. Of course, Bob Ezrin had a masterful hand in all of it as well.
Quite a few years went by before you resurfaced in 1999 with Phoenix Down. Many readers might not know about this release. Please fill us in.
Yes. Well, there’s a guy named Bruce Mee who is one of the most intensely committed record company guys I’ve ever met. He is ALL about the music. He contacted me and dragged me out of wherever the hell I was. The album represents a cross section of songs written from '93 to '98. We're working on another recording as we speak.
Thank you again for your time. It's great to have you back in the rock community. Is there anything you'd like to add in conclusion?
Just that I’m working on a film now and that the new album is currently being recorded.