IN THE STORE!
Former ALICE COOPER Bassist DENNIS DUNAWAY
Submitted By Caroline Walsh on
This is James and Cassie and we're pleased and honored to have Mr. Dennis Dunaway, with us. How are you doing today?
I wish I could say that I have an exciting cold but it's just a common cold.
I guess we'll pull a Sludge and start out by asking you to talk about your current project which would be the new album, 'Bones from the Yard'. So, tell us a little something about it, if you could.
"Bones from the Yard" began as my first solo album but, as the musicians were assembled and started recording together, I sensed an exceptional chemestry so I encouraged equal input from the other guys and a group was born.
For those who haven't heard the new CD, what can they expect?
The twelve songs take you on a twisting journey that's cemented together from beginning to end with crunchy, in your face, production.
In listening to the new CD, we noticed the guitars have a bit of a different sound' Almost a slightly slowed down sound. Something is a little different than what we are used to. Was this done intentionally?
Everything on the CD was done intentionally, even the freak accidents. Rick Tedesco used the original Les Paul and Marshall Head that Mick Ronson used on Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars album. He created that sound by doubling his rhythm parts and splitting them left and right.
How did the DD Project / members come together?
Rick and his long time friend and drummer, Russ Wilson, and I were driving home after an Ian Hunter show. Rick told me that his new studio was up and running but he needed a guinnea pig-band to get the bugs out. I told him that I had about 200 songs so we decided to do it. The studio quality improved quickly and so did the instrumental tracks. I decided that we needed a kick-ass singer to match the level of those tracks. We remembered hearing a Keyboard player with a great voice. When Ed Burns arrived at the studio, we asked him if he had any vocal ideas for the instrumental track on "Kandahar". We joked around so he would feel comfortable and he nailed the direction of the song that night. And then I saw an old video tape of Rick singing lead and couldn't believe he hadn't told me that he could sing. So now the band has two great singers. Ian Hunter still claims that I have the best voice of all but I think he's joking.
Some of the songs on this CD are really good. As a musician, does it bother you when you release material that is better than most and yet it still does not get any air play?
The artistic quality is what I care about and these songs take me where I always strive to go. Being in a band with Rick, Russ, and Ed is monumentally satisfying as well. We've heard the songs on the radio several times and it put smiles on our faces.
It wouldn't be an interview unless we took a trip back in time. Do you mind if we go a little old school?
Yes, but I don't mind if we go vintage school.
You went to high school with Alice Cooper. What brought you guys together? Was it love of the same music?
That, long distance running, and art mostly. Salvador Dali and the Dada movement.
What musicians inspired you to want to be a musician yourself?
In 1963, I went to see "Hercules Unchained" at the Fox Theatre in Phoenix. During Intermission, Duane Eddy and the Rebels did a surprise performance that knocked my socks off and I said to myself, "That's what I want to do!"
You guys started out as the Earwigs, Spiders, and then the Nazz. Why the change to the Alice Cooper Band/Group? What meaning did 'Alice Cooper' have anyway?
A club owner in Phoenix said he would hire us as the house band if we changed our name from the Earwigs to the Spiders. Soon after that, we heard that a Japanese band had released a record as the Spiders so we thought of The Nazz. And then when we heard about an East-coast Nazz, we were hell-bent to come up with something that nobody else would use. It was just a common name but being the name of a group of guys made it a dangerous move. We instantly became the band that everybody wanted to beat the hell out of.
How big of a difference did signing with Frank Zappa make on your career?
It made people who hated us decide to give us a listen before hating us again.
Urban legend is Frank Zappa asked you to turn up at 8 and you guys turned up at 8 a.m. Any truth?
That's not true at all, it was 9.
Bob Ezrin is given a lot of credit for you guys finding your sound. Would you say he did have a lot of input?
Absolutly. Jack Richardson, who produced the Guess Who, had a lot to do with our studio sound as well.
At what point did you realize 'holy cow, I'm a HUGE rock star!'
Many writers still say I'm the world's most underrated bassists. I guess my first "Holy Cow" came when we sold out the Hollywood Bowl.
You were on the majority of the early Alice Cooper hits which are still played on the radio today. Did you guys realize back then that your songs would live through generations and inspire countless musicians?
Never imagined it.
Speaking of young musicians that you are still inspiring, we're interviewing some up and coming rockers like a new band called Kid Ego. Any words of advice for any aspiring musicians trying to get into the business?
If they don't listen to me or anyone else, then they might be onto something new.
What made the Alice Cooper band different from the rest was the stage shows. The guillotines, the snakes' But, tell us your perspective of the infamous chicken story?
A vicious crowd tore our pet chicken, Pecker, to shreds.
Do you think things like that, funny mishaps from guys who have personalities, are missing from the current rock scene?
Well, I've been hearing a lot of outrageous stories about this new chicken.
You collaborated with Joe Bouchard (BOC) and Neal Smith as Brainstorm/Dead Ringer, then 'Bouchard, Dunaway & Smith'. BOC supported the Alice Cooper Band on tour in the 70's and Joe also appears on the latest record. Did you keep in contact from that time, or, if not, how did the projects come about?
Joe has been a close friend since that early tour. Through the years, we've gotten together socially and musically and from time to time we stomp stages and record together.
Did you think you'd still be making music 30 years on, back in '76?
I knew if I was still kicking I would be making music, it's in my blood.
Do you keep in contact with any of the members of the Alice Cooper Group?
Yeah, I talked to Neal and Michael the day before yesterday and I'll see Alice soon.
Any thoughts/comments on a possible Alice Cooper Group reunion?
Alice is the person to ask. He always has been.
You're going to be playing the Chiller Theatre Convention in Secaucus, NJ - October 27th-29th'. Details? What can fans in the area expect to hear? Cooper classics, songs off the new record?
We'll be playing our own songs; "School's Out," "I'm Eighteen," "Be My Lover," "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "Under My Wheels," plus a few surprises. Alice will be in Atlantic City that same night (October 28th) and I would like his band and the Billion Dollar Babies to turn our amps up really loud so fans in Lakewood, New Jersey can hear both concerts simultaneously.
You're writing your memoirs, so we hear. When can we expect that out and will we find out some surprises about you that we never knew before?
The surprising stir that "Bones from the Yard" has caused has slowed the book writing down but I have managed to come up with some interesting new entries. I will be done when I type, The End.
On your web site, backing music plays as you view that is a bit 60's sounding. Do you and Alice butt-heads on politics since he has been relatively outspoken as a republican?
The backing music is Alice Cooper. My wife butted heads with him but when he said that people that speak out against war should be shot for treason, I decided to keep quiet.
After Metallica blew the whistle on music downloads, a lot of bands came out both for and against the ability of downloading music on the Internet. Do you think that the ability to download music has hurt the music industry?
It may have destroyed it.
If you were to put one song you performed on in a time capsule to be preserved for people to hear 1,000 years from now, what song would you pick to sum up your contribution to rock 'n' roll?
No question, "B.B. On Mars."
By the same token, what song, if any, do you wish you hadn't performed and wish you could erase from your catalog?
"B.B. On Mars" but I don't have to worry because it's in a time capsule.
What's next for Dennis Dunaway the man and Dennis Dunaway the musician?
The man is going to Sweden for a sex-change operation and the musician is planning a new career in Broadway musicals.
If you have a one word answer that sums the person up, that will do. If you'd like to share a thought or memory, we welcome that as well!
A previously untapped goldmine.
Always finds the perfect pocket for the song.
Heartfelt and genuine musically and socially.
Killer guitar player and fun to be around.
A real trooper who lives for music.
The locomotive of the rhythm section.
I don't know him but I know Michael Bruce so I'll add him- Cutting guitar lines and damn great song writer.
And, if we may, Dennis Dunaway yourself?
Conceptual artist that happens to play bass.
I'd like to thank Mr. Dennis Dunaway for spending this time with us at the Metal Epicenter. Do you have any closing words you'd like to share with your fans, site links, or anything like that?
"Bones from the Yard" is available at Dennis Dunaway Project.com or through the Dennis Dunaway Project Myspace page. The album cover was designed by Sharktooth Creative and guitarhangar.com is a great site for guitars.
Once again, thank you for doing this.
Thanks James. Thanks Cassie.
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