Arena - July 2000

(July 2000)

Originally Published: July 2000

Burn, Baby, Burn (and serve with potato salad)

When he's not scaring children and drinking the blood of virgins, hard rock god Alice Cooper can be found running his very own restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona. It's called Alice's House of BBQ, and here's the secrets of it's smokin' success.

Step 1: Leave the cooking to the experts

Luckily for the restaurant, I don't do any of the cooking - even though we are famous for our barbeque. I'm famous for eating it, but not cooking it - I just get some meat and let it burn. There's really nothing to barbeques: everyone makes such a big deal out of it. I don't have a secret recipe – my only tip is stay away from the rattlesnakes, even though they're actually edible. Rattlesnake meat is like $20 an ounce; the problem is catching them.

Step 2: Always remember, the food is the star

Quality is absolutely everything. You're open and closed within a year if you don't give the customers the goods. Certain restaurants proved that you can hang anything in the world on the walls and people will come and see it - and then they'll buy the T-shirt and walk away. But if you don't deliver with what's on the plate, then they're not going to come back. I don't care who it is. You know, look at the names that were on Planet Hollywood. You got the biggest movie stars in the world. And for a while people were like, 'Hey, you know I enjoy coming in here and looking at all the stuff on the walls, but why did you open a restaurant? Why didn't you open a museum instead?'

Step 3: Season with celebrities

The great thing about my place is that it's like a venue for rock'n'rollers. Every big band that comes into town comes to American West Arena and we're right next door. So if like Page and Plant come into town and they have a soundcheck in the afternoon, we feed everybody. Knowing what it's like to be on the road, I just kind of send it over and say, 'Here, don't eat that other stuff, eat this.' So I've made it like a tradition that if anybody is playing at American West Arena, they get fed by us. It's my duty as a rock'n'roller.

Step 4: Don't skimp on the portions

We have a two foot hotdog on the menu - the Big Unit, named after Randy Johnson [pitcher for the local Diamondbacks baseball team]. It's the most embarrassing thing you can order. When they deliver it to your table, all the alarms go off, sirens go off and the spotlight hits the table so that everybody watches you get your hot dog. We just feel that it's a point of ridicule - if you order it, you should be ridiculed. Even though it's a great hot dog.

Step 5: Serve with a smile

I haven't met anybody that doesn't like me yet and I've always tried not to make enemies. I go out of my way not to step on anybody's toes. Alice, on the other hand, is paid to step on people's toes. So when he gets up on stage, people expect a certain amount of rock'n'roll abuse out of him. But not offstage. Unless you talk during a movie. If you talk during a movie I will absolutely dump buttered popcorn all over your head. There's even a song about it on my new album called 'It's The Little Things'. It's says, 'I don't care if you burn my house down or steal my car, but if you talk during a movie I'll kill you right there.'

Step 6: Let it age

I think I'm one of the most recognised people because I've been around for 35 years. I'm a dinosaur, but I'm still a very vicious dinosaur. I'm a dinosaur that still eats people. I eat bands for lunch! And I think it's the same with Aerosmith and Ozzy - we're still making good records. And we're in this strange kind of place because we're the first generation of hard rock bands that are 50 years-plus, that are not old. You know, you come to an Alice Cooper concert and you're not going to see a bunch of old men up there. You're gonna see a bunch of guys that are there to rock the place and that are gonna give 100 per cent. I haven't yet got to where I'm just cruising on the reputation. If I'm in the car and a song comes on the radio, I'm the first one to turn it up to 10. I go by my 18-year-old daughter's room, and I pound on the door and I go, 'Turn that up!' I got the only kids in the world that can't go, 'Dad, you don't understand!' Because I can go, 'Are you kidding? I designed your generation!'

Alice Cooper's new album Brutal Planet is out now on Eagle Records.