Dunaway still rocks with Blue Coupe
Alice Cooper’s original bassist joins forces with former Blue Oyster Cult members
Albert Bouchard, Dennis Dunaway and Joe Bouchard make up the band Blue Coupe. The group appears at the Starlight Club in Waterloo Aug. 18
Dennis Dunaway, best known as a founding member of the Alice Cooper band, understandably has some challenges balancing his past and his present these days. With Alice Cooper’s induction into the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame this year, on top of the soon-to-be-released sequel to Alice’s classic Welcome To My Nightmare album featuring a reunion of the original Cooper band, Dunaway has been inundated with good wishes from fans all over the world.
At the same time, the bassist, who forged his friendship with Alice when they were teenagers in Phoenix, Arizona (and Alice was still known as Vincent Furnier), has never stopped making music since the 1974 Alice Cooper album Muscle Of Love marked the end of the group that had formed as The Earwigs in 1964.
In fact, Dunaway’s latest project, Blue Coupe, unites him with two other longtime friends and rock ‘n’ roll lifers, original Blue Oyster Cult members Albert and Joe Bouchard. Blue Coupe released an album last year entitled Tornado On The Tracks and Dunaway says that he’s truly fortunate to still be able to play original music for receptive audiences today, especially after battling Crohn’s Disease in the 1990s.
“I’ve known Joe and Albert since 1972 when Blue Oyster Cult and Alice Cooper toured together,” Dunaway says from his home in Connecticut.
“They’re such great musicians and we’ve always had a lot of fun jamming together. At one point I realized that they hadn’t recorded anything officially for about 25 years, so I started prodding them to form this band. Once we got down to making the album, it all happened really fast. We’re in the process of doing the next album right now, which will have a song that Robby Krieger of The Doors wrote for us.”
Although Dunaway’s focus has always been on making new music – he has two other bands, the Dennis Dunaway Project and 5th Avenue Vampires – he knows that fans who come to shows expect to hear at least a few of the songs he helped make famous, such as I’m Eighteen and School’s Out.
“With Blue Coupe, we know who our core audience is, so we go a bit deeper into the Alice Cooper and Blue Oyster Cult catalogues,” he says. “It often just depends on what the crowd is like at any given show. We did a festival in France last year, and a fan called out for [BOC’s] Fallen Angel as we were walking to the stage. It wasn’t one that we’d rehearsed, but Joe decided on the spot that we should do it, and it came off as tight as anything else in the set. That just proved to me again what you can do when you’ve been playing with someone for 40 years.”
Dunaway had a similar experience recording the three new Welcome 2 My Nightmare tracks with Alice, whom he still considers his best friend.
“The original band – Alice, myself, Michael Bruce, Neal Smith, and our producer Bob Ezrin – were in the studio in New York for two days, and it was remarkably like old times,” Dunaway says.
The only difference was of course the absence of guitarist Glen Buxton, who passed away in 1997, a gaping hole that Dunaway admits couldn’t be ignored. “We set up a shrine in the studio. I brought one of Glen’s amps and put it on a stool next to the grand piano, along with a dozen red roses and a bottle of Seagram’s 7. He’s always in our hearts.”
Canada also holds a special place for Dunaway since, as he explains, it was where the Alice Cooper persona was essentially fleshed out on the group’s breakthrough album, Love It To Death, courtesy of the Toronto-based Ezrin, and his production guru, the recently departed Jack Richardson. There was also the notorious “chicken incident” at the Toronto Rock ‘N Roll Revival Festival in September 1969, which made headlines across North America, and unintentionally cemented Alice’s image as the godfather of “shock rock.”
Just prior to that show, the group was in London, Ont., opening for Frank Zappa at the Wonderland Gardens, curious as to why they weren’t on the bill for what would become the era’s landmark rock festival, Woodstock. “That was our first big tour and Frank was our mentor at the time, so while he and the Mothers were doing their sound check, Alice and I got up the nerve to ask him why we weren’t going to play this festival in upstate New York everybody was talking about.
“Without pausing Frank said, ‘Because we don’t want to,’ and went back to sound checking. Alice and I just looked at each other and said, okay. But then a month later after we played Toronto, everyone knew who we were.”