Alice Cooper, the heavy metal icon of shock rock, the guy behind “Elected,” thinks politics should stay out of rock ‘n’ roll. As reported by Heavy Consequence, Cooper was recently interviewed on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, where he expressed his disinterest in bringing up politics through rock ‘n’ roll.
“I don’t ever talk politics…I hate politics,” Cooper states. “I don’t think rock ‘n’ roll and politics belong in the same bed together, but a lot of people think it does — because we have a voice, and we should use our voice. But again, rock ‘n’ roll should be anti-political, I think. When my parents started talking about politics, I would turn on The [Rolling] Stones as loud as I could. I don’t want to hear politics, and I still feel that way.”
Commenting on his own shows, Cooper says his performances are a “a vacation from CNN,” and shares, “I’m not preaching anything up there, and I’m not knocking anybody…That’s what was funny about it. If you’re in the political theater, you’d better be able to take a joke. So, that’s okay. I don’t mind the satire of it, but I don’t ever go up there and tell you who to vote for.”
In the same interview, Cooper also speaks to his relationship with that of the right-winged Ted Nugent, who is far from shy voicing his political opinions. Cooper shares, “Ted and I grew up together in Detroit, and he’s always been the mouth that roared. When he gets going, nobody can stay with him. I kind of look at him as his own entity.”
Like much of life, the stance on whether artists should engage with politics is divided. You have those like Neil Young pulling their music from Spotify over Joe Rogan’s COVID-19 disinformation and the company’s stance to host Rogan’s podcast, as well as acts like Rage Against The Machine who have always been vocal about fighting against injustice systems. Then on the flip side, you got the numerous black metal bands that lean into the far-right.
The work of artists is their own – how they choose to discuss (or not discuss politics) is their own right. But to say rock ‘n’ roll is not a place for politics, that doesn’t seem to line up. The genre’s history is built upon entertainment as much as it is politics, with rock music being a means to connect with younger people during war and other societal upheaval.
There is a place for everything in music, and whereas some folks may be looking for more politically charged content in their art, some folks just want to cut loose and headbang! What are your thoughts on artists contributing to political discourse? Is that a space they should engage in or stay out of?
Words by: Michael Pementel