Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Conversation With One Of Rock's Original Billion Dollar Babies, Drummer Neal Smith Of The Alice Cooper Group

When it comes to rock drummers of the classic rock era, or any other era for that matter, Neal Smith is a true legend. His work on the first seven albums (eight if you count the 'Greatest Hits' album) released by the original Alice Cooper Group, which besides Smith was comprised of Alice Cooper on vocals, Michael Bruce and the late Glen Buxton on guitars and Dennis Dunaway on bass, ranks up there with the finest rock drumming ever recorded. It's Smith's drumming which propelled such classics as "Halo Of Flies," "School's Out," "Billion Dollar Babies," "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "I'm Eighteen,"'s safe to say that without his contributions the hard rock landscape of the early to mid 1970's would've been vastly different. Smith has also recorded with Buck Dharma of Blue Öyster Cult (Flat Out, 1982),The Plasmatics (Beyond The Valley of 1984, 1984), and Deadringer (Electrocuxion of the Heart, 1989).

Keeping active ever since, Smith also recorded two albums with Bouchard, Dunaway and Smith, which saw him reunited with his former Cooper bandmate, bassist Dennis Dunaway and ex Blue Öyster Cult bassist Joe Bouchard on guitar. In 1999, he finally released the long lost debut solo effort 'Platinum God', originally recorded in 1975. He also released two albums under the group name Cinematik, with guitarist Robert Mitchell and bassist Peter Catucci, which saw the drummer exploring more of a world beat sound.

Now Smith is back with the debut album by Killsmith, 'Sexual Savior,' a dark, uncompromising collection of songs recorded over a four year period which shows this talented musician pushing the boundaries once again. Described as heavy metal garage punk with grinding guitars, at times almost lending an industrial feel, this is a far cry from the relatively (in comparison) melodic, radio friendly hard rock of Alice Cooper. Eschewing the safe world of classic rock, it clearly shows that even over three decades after the breakup of the original band, he still subscribes to the code of ruffling feathers and shocking listeners out of their comfortable existence.

Recently I had the opportunity to catch up with Smith to discuss the new album, reminisce regarding the days when the original Cooper band were personas non gratis amongst parents of the world, the possibilities of that band reuniting once again and much more. Read on as we have an exclusive conversation with one of rock's original shock rockers, Neal Smith.

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