Hello Dennis, first of all, how are you ?
I'm in a creative frame of mind and life is good, thanks.
You seem quite busy with Blue Coupe, your band with the Bouchard brothers. How did you decide to put a band together ? You already worked with Joe Bouchard in BDS before that…
Joe also worked with Neal and I on the Deadringer album, Electrocution Of The Heart, along with guitar player Jay "Jesse" Johnson and singer Charlie Huhn.
Bouchard, Dunaway & Smith came out of that. BDS rehearsed a lot, but our requirements to do live gigs was set high, so despite working hard to book shows, we only did about three per year. Joe, Neal and I had all paid our dues a hundred times over, but Joe and I were more willing to get back down in the trenches and deal with all of the troublesome crap that comes with playing smaller venues.
After I got Joe and Albert to join me on stage at a couple of shows in NYC, the next thing we knew, Albert landed a great one-nighter for us as a trio. We winged it through two sets and it went so smooth that the club owner paid us extra to play another set. And we had so much fun that we decided to make Blue Coupe happen.
You released “Tornado on the Tracks” in 2010, I gotta say it’s a fantastic album. Are there any songs on it that you’ve been carrying in your bag for a long time, or did you write all-new songs with the band exclusively for this album ?
I think Tornado is about half new and half previous ideas. We booked a few days at Prime Time Studios in Mount Vernon, New York. Again, we hadn't rehearsed at all. We kicked around the concepts, lyrics, arrangements and everything online. And then on first day of recording, we thought we would be lucky to nail four tracks and we nailed fourteen. And so we used the extra time to shoot a video for "You (Like Vampires)" directed by Albert's son, Ace, and his film crew. There was a bad storm that day and I was looking out the studio window at the railroad tracks when Albert said, How does it look out there. I said, it looks like there's a Tornado on the tracks. We both said, that's our album title.
You sing on “Waiting for my Ship”, a lot of people don’t know you as a singer. How did you end up in front of the microphone ? Did you write the lyrics of the song as well ?
My bass lines are often counter-melodic to the vocal melody so it's tricky for me to sing and play bass simultaneously. But when I write songs with the intention of singing lead, I'll write simpler parts, which is what I did on "Waiting For My Ship." I wrote the whole song but Albert simplified the choruses and Joe came up with the chords for the guitar break. Here comes my girlfriend, cuter than a cupcake. She deserves the whole wide world but I ain't got it. I'm just waiting for my ticket to win. I'm waiting' for my ship to come in.
You did some shows in France last year, and you’re coming back in April. You even recorded a live album in Paris with BDS. Do you really enjoy France or is this a happy accident ?
Alice and I became friends in high school art class. I love France because of it's amazing artists, especially the impressionists. Whenever I'm there, my French friends always show me around. We've explored St.-Malo, St. Michelle, Lyon, Tours, Paris, Moulin, Peymeinade and Nice so far. Yes, I do love your beautiful country very much.
So you’re no longer wondering why you’re not on tour, as I didn’t see any new photo on your facebook page recently ! In extension to the French shows, is a whole European tour with Blue Coupe being setting up ?
It's been decades and barely a day has passed without my wondering why I'm not touring with Alice. I keep thinking that he's going to do something about it, but at this point, it just seems like there are too many nails in that coffin. The only reason that I keep thinking it will happen is because I know that he believes in doing what is fair and right. We are lifelong friends and my hopes have always been fueled by knowing his good character.
Blue Coupe would love to do as many shows as possible but the European fans will have to convince the promoters that there's a demand. Meanwhile, little by little, we'll continue doing our best to win them over.
What happened to the Dennis Dunaway Project ? It was such a great band and you seemed to be very proud of it.
I am very proud of that band and I'm very proud of that album, and those friendships, but I couldn't bring DDP to France because they're restricted to staying near home and that's a problem for me. Musicians travel. That's what we do. It's in my blood.
You recently recorded with Alice Cooper for his new album “Welcome 2 my Nightmare”.
How was it to be in a studio in 2011 with Neal Smith, Michael Bruce, Alice Cooper and Bob Ezrin ? Did you get the exact same feeling as in the old days ?
Other than missing Glen's fiery personality and wit, and the leaps and bounds of new technology, yes, it was surprisingly the same. It's a magical chemistry and I felt like we could have knocked out that whole album in a week. We did three tracks in two days. Play those three songs together and you can get an idea of what a reunion album would be like, especially if we got the proper amount of time. I love working with Alice, Neal, Michael and Bob because that's exactly what I was born to do.
I gotta say the three tracks with the original band (RIP Glen Buxton) are absolutely amazing, when I heard “When Hell Comes Home” I instantly thought “Oh ! That’s Dennis Dunaway right here !”, how do you explain the fact that your style is so unique ?
It's funny that you say that because, when the band lived at the farm in Detroit, I wrote a positive redemption to "Black Juju" called "Bring Up The Light" and Michael's riff on "Hellhole Number 9," which became "When Hell Comes Home" is nearly note for note. I mentioned that to him and he didn't get that scoundrel smile so he either forgot he copped it, or it's a coincidence. At any rate, I love that song more than mine anyway.
“Runaway Train” originally called “Subway” was on the Dennis Dunaway Project’s album called “Bones from the yard”. How did you react when Alice said he wanted to rewrite it for his album instead of making a brand new song ?
I was thrilled, of course. Getting to work with one of the greatest writers and singers in rock, who wouldn't be? But it also meant that I would get to spend some time with my long lost artistic family. That's the true thrill of it.
The Alice Cooper Group has so much history in it, I know that you’re writing a book, how is it going ? I think it needs at least four books to get the right story, as Neal Smith said that “Me Alice” is “a great book of fiction”…
Four books? Yikes! You have no idea how hard I've worked to get one book finished. I've written it three times over to achieve the truthful light I intended. And through all of my years of silence, so many tales have been spun that the honest to God truth does sound like fiction. The made up tales are etched in stone. And as entertaining as they are, I think the truth is far more interesting. I do have a positive feeling about this year though. I'm dead set on getting a deal with a publisher.
You brought the theatrical elements into the Alice Cooper Show. I read that you invented the famous eye make-up. You don’t have any theatrics with Blue Coupe, except maybe in the musicvideos, why that ? Do you focus more on the music ? Or are the other guys simply less crazy than you ?
Ha ha. I didn't invent the eye make-up. I got the idea from a poster for a ballet in New York City and I altered the idea for Alice. But I think it would have been easier to climb Mount Everest than to talk Alice into wearing it when no band had ever done such an outlandish thing.
For now, Blue Coupe are happy doing minimal theatrics because that let's people actually listen to the music.
And Blue Oyster Cult had the most elaborate laser light show ever, so Joe and Albert know theatrics. They toured with the Coops.
What music do you listen to in those days ? Do you listen to actual bands ?
I rarely listened to much besides the music in my head but I grew up on Country music, Do wop, Elvis and Duane Eddy and the Rebels. And then came The Beatles, The Stones, The Yardbirds, The Kinks and the Who. And then I moved on to Beethoven and Stockhausen and every other kind of music known to man. It's still mostly in my head though.
Do you think in today’s society, a new band can still shock people, bring new things on the table… Like the Alice Cooper Group did at the time ?
The Alice Cooper group did it under the rigid magnifying glass of censorship but that only made it more outrageous for the times. It's impossible to imagine how shocking it was now. Can it be done again? Absolutely. And the best time to do it is when people have convinced themselves that it can't be done.
Alice recently said that he would not exclude the idea of making a whole new album with Michael, Neal and you and even a tour in cities that marked the history of the Alice Cooper Group. Did you talk together about that ? Is it going to happen ?
Yes, they said it was going to happen and then it didn't. We were told that there is no interest in it. As always, Alice just has to stand up and stick to his guns.
You’re now in the Rock’n’roll hall of fame (about time !), how were you feeling the day of the ceremony ? Do you see it as an achievement or just another award ?
The real award is in the faces of all of the people that tell us how much our music means to them. But the induction ceremony was a heavenly day. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame saw through the smokescreen and recognized what Neal, Glen, Alice, Michael and I created as a hard working, against all odds, visionary group. We created every bit of it together, as friends, for art. I cherish the award because of that.
I read that Neal was a bit angry because you could have been inducted when Glen was still alive…
Neal is right but I felt like G.B. was right there with us. He was never much for any kind of ceremony anyway, but if he had been alive, the after-party would still be going strong.
What will 2012 be for Dennis Dunaway ?
I love surprises.
Do you have a little word for the readers of Hard Force Magazine ?
Music makes the world go around. It brings us all together. It is the universal language. And it would die if all of your ears were silent, so keep enjoying that loud, loud music.
Well thank you very much for this interview, I hope to see you on your tour with Blue Coupe, and by the way, happy new year !
"Merci" Blue Coupe !
French & English Version by Hugo Tessier / Hard Force Web & Tv Edition.
| Alice Cooper, Dunaway (Dennis), BDS, Blue Coupe