Dennis Dunaway is a Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer who is best known for being the original bassist of The Alice Cooper Group. While Dunaway has continued to be a part of the Alice Cooper family over the years, he has also continued to make his own music. Dennis has announced an exciting new project built around his latest song, “Cold Cold Coffin.” The song’s storyline has lead Dunaway to a vision of filming a movie based on the song’s lyrics. Don’t think just another music video here. Think bigger! Dennis Dunaway describes the concept as a rock cinema, and he has already cast Beasto Blanco alum, Calico Cooper in the starring role. But in order for the vision to come to life, Dennis needs your help. He has set up a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the movie. If you contribute to the “Cold Cold Coffin” movie, you could score some awesome Alice Cooper memorabilia in return. I had the extreme honor of talking to Dennis about the “Cold Cold Coffin” project, as well as some of his other projects. Enjoy our conversation, then head on over to make this vision a reality!!
The Music Room: Hi Dennis. It is a real honor to be able to speak with you, and I appreciate you taking time out to speak with me. I want to talk to you about your new project, “Cold Cold Coffin.” It’s a really interesting concept as it is not just a song, but a theatrical event. Where did the idea come from? Was it something that you always wanted to do? Or did you write this song and think, this would make a great movie?
Dennis Dunaway: I write a lot of songs that have visual lyrics. We always have with the Alice Cooper group. This one is just one of those songs where everything seemed to fall into place really nicely. Every lyric is visual, so it seems to be a cut above a lot of other songs in that respect. I played it for a friend of mine who is in the film industry. He said we’ve got to do a video of this. It started out being a low budget thing and then one thing led to another and we just got so inspired that this thing has to be done really nicely. We brought in some people who do work on Broadway in New York City. They do shows for cable television and films. Everybody agreed that the lyrics were so visual that it’s already like a movie in four and a half minutes.
TMR: I saw that you wanted to make it more of a mini-movie as opposed to a music video, I’m curious as to what the difference is. Is it something like when you think about the “Thriller” video that Michael Jackson did?
DD: Right, that is why we are calling it a rock cinema. It really is the length of a music video. But rather than plugging a band and having musicians in the background of the scenes, this is pretty much going to be filmed like an old Christopher Lee film. Film Noir in a real castle, and it’s going to stick to the storyline of the lyrics. It’s going to depict the lyrics as opposed to doing something where you see the band playing in front of a crowd, then seeing people walking around doing something that has to do with the lyrics. This is strictly a very short movie.
TMR: I know that Calico Cooper is talked about as being in the movie. How did that come about? What was it about Calico that made you want to feature her in this project?
DD: Being in the New York City area, I have friends who are amazing dancers. What I imagined for this was something that I already know that Calico can do with flying colors. She has been in Alice’s show. She has her own band with Chuck Garric…Beasto Blanco. And she has danced in Alice’s show because you know, Alice is married to Sheryl who is a Dancer. Calico and Sheryl are very much on the same level of talent when it comes to dancing. Also, Calico is breaking into film now. So I thought, well this is perfect. I’ll reach out to her and see if he is interested. Once she heard the storyline like the rest of us, she’s jumping up and down ready to go.
Like I said, it’s like everything is falling into place. It reminds me of how the Alice Cooper group worked when all cylinders were firing. When the chemistry is just right, and everyone involved gets it. When everyone involved is enthusiastic about it…it’s not like we can almost see the film in our heads, it’s we CAN see the film in our heads. So we already know what the finished film is going to look like. It just hasn’t been made yet. The big expense is…the reason we had to go to a Kickstarter is the location. It’s going to cost a lot. And also because we’re going to have a lighting crew. We don’t really need a sound crew because the song is the lyrics. I can’t give away the storyline though because the surprise is a big part of it. It’s a love story. It’s a revenge story. It’s a scary story, yet it’s not. It’s hard to talk people into investing in something when I can’t tell them quite what it is (laughs.) But it’s pretty amazing to see how many fans are willing to take a chance on, I guess my past history. They feel they can trust me.
TMR: Sure, and it’s not like they aren’t getting anything. The Kickstarted incentives are tremendous. If you are a fan of the Alice Cooper Band, some of the things you pulled out…Do you have a closet or treasure chest that you opened and said let’s offer this to people? There are tour programs. There are business cards and photos. Just some amazing things. Are these items from your personal collection?
DD: Yeah, it’s my personal collection…if you call putting a bunch of stuff in a storage unit and leaving it for forty years a collection (laughs.) I guess I’m kind of a hoarder. I’m not in most respects, but I guess I never found time to go through it and throw things away. But I still have all of this stuff, and I figured what good is it doing sitting in a box? So when we needed incentives for this, I thought this is perfect. I don’t need to have 25 tour books from the Killer tour. Especially when I haven’t looked at them in 30 years. A big thing that we have just put up is the coffin itself. It’s custom made as a prop for this shoot. Someone can have it shipped to their house anywhere in the United States by Halloween if they’re interested. It’s a clear, acrylic coffin that looks like glass. I’m thinking that this would be the perfect ice chest for beer at a frat house (laughs.) We’ve got picks donated by Fender. Then we have bookmarks which are replicas of the Hollywood Bowl tickets for the concert that the Alice Cooper group played there in 1972. They were donated by Tish & Snooky of Manic Panic. They do all the colored hair dye. My wife works for them and they sing on pretty much all of the musical things that I do, including this. So it’s one big happy family.
TMR: I know that right now getting this film project done and funded is your main focus. Once this gets done…obviously Alice Cooper is just one chapter of your musical career, do you see “Cold Cold Coffin” leading towards an album of a collection of music?
DD: It actually began…I’m doing two albums right now. One with Blue Coupe with Joe Bouchard and Albert Bouchard of Blue Oyster Cult. This will be our third album and we’re very excited about this. Then simultaneously…well, those guys are very prolific. They’re always doing all kinds of solo albums and everything. Then I decided that I was going to do a solo album. The film idea took on such grand proportions that I haven’t got too many of the tracks recorded for my solo album yet. We’ve got “Cold Cold Coffin” and five songs that are getting towards being done. “Cold Cold Coffin” is going off to Iceland today to mixed.
TMR: I wanted to keep all of the focus on “Cold Cold Coffin,” but I have to ask you about this. I read the online diary that you kept during the UK reunion of the original Alice Cooper Band.
DD: Right, the day by day account of the British tour last November.
TMR: That was a lot of fun to read. Do you foresee more of that? Do you think that North America will get some dates of that experience?
DD: We had some plans for this year, but it looks like its going to be delayed at best. So, I don’t know. It all depends on the fans convincing the promoters that it’s worthwhile for them to include us. We always have a blast with Alice, and he genuinely has a blast as well. That British tour was nothing short of amazing. The Tubes opened for us, which was great. They are from Arizona too during the same era of starry-eyed kids that we came from. That was such a big success and we got an amazing amount of fans from all over the world showing up for it that it’s got to continue. Next year will be the 50th anniversary of “Pretties for You,” so maybe we’ll be able to work something out.
TMR: I loved reading the interactions between the “old guys” and the new band. We’re going to make this transition work by hitting an E note…that was such fascinating insight there. I just found myself continuing to read through all of the entries. It was so interesting to see how the two worlds came together on that tour. Thank you for doing that. I would urge any Alice Cooper fan to read that.
DD: I never set out to be a writer, but I wrote the book. Because of that, I can sit down and do accounts like that. I tried to do as many as I could to keep fans getting some insight. My book, “Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! My Adventures in the Alice Cooper Group” was just released in paperback. It’s available anywhere where books are sold. It’s got a new introduction by Alice, which is pretty amazing.
TMR: Well, you have a full plate, my friend. I’m very excited to see this project materialize and to see all of the surprises come to life. I want to again say what an honor it is to speak with you today. I’m a big fan of your legacy and can’t wait to see what you have in store for us.
DD: Thank you so much, Tony.