alice cooper

He’s Back (The Man Be­hind The Mask) (Con­stric­tor, 1986) We talk to the God­fa­ther of Shock rock about the Fri­day The 13th an­them that re­vi­talised his ca­reer

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Horror Songs - WORDS: ALI COOPER

The year is 1986. Nine years af­ter a spell in a san­i­tar­ium to re­cover from al­co­holism, alice cooper is pre­par­ing his 16th al­bum, Con­stric­tor, with a sharp new per­spec­tive on his ca­reer. as the main­stream me­dia veered away from alice’s sig­na­ture heavy sound, favour­ing schmaltzy power bal­lads, the god­fa­ther of shock rock needed a blunt-force trauma to bring his vil­lain­ous al­ter-ego back to his former glory. cue a chance meet­ing with metal gui­tarist, Kane roberts.

“I pan­icked with Con­stric­tor be­cause they wouldn’t play hard rock on the ra­dio,” alice ad­mits to­day. “I had four power bal­lads in a row that were hits and my au­di­ence started to think I was mel­low­ing out, but the rest of the al­bum was heavy and they just wouldn’t play it. So I got with this metal mon­ster Kane and put a band to­gether that was re­lent­lessly heavy for two al­bums based en­tirely on splat­ter movies. I wanted my al­bum cover to say ‘fea­tur­ing no bal­lads’!”

as the al­bum was com­ing to­gether, the team be­hind 80s hor­ror megafran­chise Fri­day The 13th ap­proached alice to pen a theme song for Fri­day The 13th

Part VI: Ja­son Lives. they tasked the right man to em­body the hockey mask-clad bad­die for the song that would be­come He’s Back (The Man Be­hind The Mask).

“I started think­ing, ‘Who is the man be­hind that hockey mask? What is driv­ing this thing to kill peo­ple? What’s his mo­ti­va­tion?’ Kane and I were writ­ing mon­strous songs about sur­vival at the time, then we ended up work­ing with tom Kelly who wrote a lot of Madonna’s hits. We came into the stu­dio with a heavy ver­sion of He’s Back, and Kelly changed the whole bassline but it danced this time. It still had the creepy fac­tor be­cause my lyrics were still there, but it moved re­ally well. It had an al­most-Michael Jack­son beat.”

In the process of mak­ing Ja­son Voorhees into a proper house­hold name, the man born Vin­cent Furnier recog­nised the masked mur­derer as a con­tem­po­rary of his own alice cooper char­ac­ter – a dan­ger­ous and in­scrutable in­di­vid­ual.

“the scari­est part about Ja­son, and Hal­loween’s Michael Myers, too, is that they show zero emo­tion. Killing for them is just like swat­ting a fly – it’s busi­ness as usual and you don’t see them get­ting mad,” alice ob­serves. “Freddy Krueger’s face gets all con­torted when he does some­thing, but Ja­son can put a butcher’s knife through a guy’s chest and stick him to the wall, then cock his head and look at his work.”

Alice’s iconic ode to the crys­tal lake ma­niac reached a whole new level of meta when com­bined with the seem­ingly lim­it­less alice cooper mis­cre­ant of his own de­sign.

“If you think about it, the Man Be­hind the Mask is alice cooper, who wears a mask. I put the makeup on and I hide be­hind the mask. I be­come the vil­lain and I have to­tal con­trol over every­thing, and that sets the char­ac­ter free… but as soon as the show’s over and I take the makeup off, I’m back to be­ing a very nice guy!”

Iron­i­cally, Ja­son’s new theme song topped the charts in Fin­land and Swe­den, de­spite the two coun­tries’ bans of the Fri­day The 13th fran­chise movies for ex­ces­sive vi­o­lence. alice cred­its his and his writ­ing part­ner’s abil­ity to spec­tate hor­ror from the in­side look­ing out.

“Kane and I see that rock mu­sic, hor­ror and com­edy are in bed to­gether,” alice ad­mits.

“You can’t have hor­ror just for hor­ror’s sake, it has to get so ridicu­lously over the top that you start to laugh. that scene in The Evil Dead when a shot­gun ac­ci­den­tally hits a pipe and the pipe bursts and ev­ery inch of this guy is cov­ered in blood – I burst out laugh­ing, like, ‘You can’t put any more blood in this movie!’”

hor­ror movies be­came hot prop­erty in the 1980s, as the Fri­day The 13th and Hal­loween sagas com­peted at the box of­fice with

A Night­mare On Elm Street. the key to a suc­cess­ful splat­ter fran­chise is not the ar­ray of vic­tims their an­tag­o­nist chooses, but the su­per­nat­u­ral and of­ten comedic el­e­ments of their sur­vival against any and all meth­ods of death and de­struc­tion.

“In the first Hal­loween movie, Jamie lee cur­tis puts a knit­ting nee­dle through Michael Myers’ ear and he goes down. the next shot you see him sit up be­hind her and you re­alise right there that he can’t be killed. You see the world open­ing up and now there’s gonna be 25 of these movies be­cause you can’t kill him. I’d love to be at the writ­ers’ ses­sions and they’re dis­cussing how he died in the last movie: ‘they’ve blown him up and he’s in a pud­dle of mud – it just so hap­pens that mud is what brings him back to life!’”

a hor­ror junkie, alice may have seen it all both on­screen and on­stage, but he ad­mits that some­times the scari­est hor­ror movie con­cepts are those that feel a lit­tle closer to home.

“I rarely see a hor­ror movie that makes me flinch. If you asked 100 peo­ple for the scari­est movie ever made, they’d say The Exorcist. You can laugh off Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers, they’re the boogey­men that live un­der your bed, but when you’re talk­ing about de­mon pos­ses­sion of a lit­tle girl that’s doc­u­mented and has ac­tu­ally hap­pened, it speaks to your soul.”

alice also played Freddy Krueger’s drunk adop­tive fa­ther in 1991’s Freddy’s Dead: The Fi­nal Night­mare, lur­ing him into an­other clas­sic hor­ror uni­verse. al­though he wel­comed the op­por­tu­nity to play a char­ac­ter that didn’t in­volve guil­lotines and gal­lows on a stage in front of metal fans bay­ing for fake blood, he’s more at home with his own psy­chotic shock rock per­sona.

“I al­ways show the au­di­ence that I’m play­ing this re­lent­lessly ar­ro­gant bas­tard that never says ‘thank you’ or talks to the au­di­ence, be­cause if he did he would be hu­man,” he notes. “I never want them to see alice on­stage as hu­man. I want him to be truly phan­tom-like!”

CHOICE LYRIC: “He’s back / The man be­hind the mask / And he’s af­ter your soul”

“i Wanted to know the killer’s Mo­ti­va­tion” ALICE COOPER



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