The founder of shock rock dishes on Marilyn Manson, The Offspring, and... Backstreet Boys?

By Liane Bonin
April 05, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

During the past 30 years, goth-shock originator Alice Cooper has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Frank Zappa, Jim Morrison, and John Lennon. But frolicking with rock legends hasn’t calcified the 51-year-old king of freaks into a crusty classic-music snob. ”I’m not one of those old fuddies that sits around going, ‘You know, the ’70s were the best,”’ Cooper tells EW Online. ”That’s really stupid.”

Instead, Cooper — whose four-disc boxed set is due from Rhino on April 20 — gives an enthusiastic thumbs up to such new kids on the block as the Barenaked Ladies, the Wallflowers, and the eels, among others. ”I think the Offspring are writing some really interesting, really funny pop songs, and I don’t remember who does it, but that ‘Too High for the Supermarket’ is just too funny,” gushes Cooper (the mystery track can be found on the Uninvited’s self-titled album).

The ”No More Mr. Nice Guy” crooner even has warm and fuzzy feelings for the likes of such prefab fluff as the Spice Girls and the Backstreet Boys. ”I’m a sucker for a pop record,” says Cooper. ”When I think about my favorite records of all time, they were probably ‘I Get Around,’ by the Beach Boys, and early Beatles records. And personally, I’ve always had a pop flair, which not everyone realizes. If you’re too heavy, it’s boring.”

But what about Marilyn Manson, the man-thing who seems to have most closely copied Cooper’s outrageous theatrics for his own stage shtick? Cooper shrugs off the rip-off. ”Sure, he’s doing the sort of sick rock burlesque that I do, but musically he’s a lot closer to Trent Reznor,” says Cooper. ”I don’t hear anything musical that’s Alice at all.” Of course, some don’t hear anything musical at all in Manson’s records, but that’s another story.