Today in 1972, Alice Cooper was at No.1 on the UK singles chart with ‘School’s Out’. Here he reflects on what this song meant to him as we go ‘Behind the Song’ with Alice Cooper.
What inspired you to write this song?
What’s the greatest three minutes of your life? There’s two times during the year. One is Christmas morning, the next one is the last three minutes of the last day of school.
How did you feel about it when it was ready to be released?
Out of the 14 Top 40 songs we’ve had, ‘School’s Out’ was the only song I was ever sure of. I said ‘If this isn’t a hit, I don’t belong in this business.’ It had every element — it was released right when school was letting out, it was a summer song, it had that hook, it had the lyric and I would have been shocked if that wasn’t a hit.
What was your experience with school?
Essentially I was Ferris Bueller, and I basically ran the school. We had girlfriends doing our homework, and the teachers loved us because we made them laugh. So school was like a piece of cake for me. Not that I ever did anything, I was just the class clown. When I wrote the song, I was like, ‘Jeez, this doesn’t apply to me at all! I love high school, I’d spend the rest of my life here!
Words of wisdom for those still in school…
I think many students graduating today wish they could stay in school, too – but for different reasons. It is a hard job market and I have watched my own son struggle within it – after graduating college with honours.
So I say start wherever you can and be the best you can be. Specialized skills are more valuable than general knowledge. Make yourself indispensable… If you’re in the general work pool, you’re gonna get lost – even if you’ve got a degree. You have got to be the guy or the gal.
And I say make some noise, will ya? Someone I once knew used to say ‘The squeaky wheel gets the oil.’
Nobody knows that better than you Alice and your noise and colour is playing on today. Catch him on the road in a city near you with Motley Crue / All Bad Things Tour throughout 2015.
“So like to fall in love with new music, especially when it takes you to another time & place and nudges your creativity to come out and play. Boondock Hippy is a vibe and an essence that is filled with the brightness of summer and should be allowed to wash all over you.” – Fresh Independence
Name: Steve Keenlyside
Where are you writing this: London, UK
Home is where your story begins, please tell us a little about yours.
I come from The Shetland Islands, a little group of islands located in the very North of Scotland. That’s pretty much how the moniker came about. The term ‘Boondock’ is used mainly in the US, translated; a remote, rural area. Shetland most definitely ticks both these boxes.
The 2nd part of the name comes from the fact that I’ve always been a hippy at heart. I ‘m pretty sure I take that from my folks ;).
The band started in one form or another whilst I was at school, and evolved over time into the Boondock Hippy as it stands today.
How did music find you?
Music courses through the veins of life on the Islands, so it found me from a very early age. My father plays guitar also, so I learned from him when I was a young lad.
The folk music scene in Shetland is internationally respected, so I feel extremely blessed to have been part of this growing up.
Best describe your musical style.
I would say it’s a mix of folk and blues.
Tell us what each member brings to the band.
There are quite a few members of the band actually.
Dan Szymczak is our very naturally gifted drummer. He keeps the Boondock Ship steady as it were. With so many musicians involved it is so important you have the core keeping it all together. He does this extremely well.
Jimmy Harris is our utility man. He has an extraordinary ability to play any instrument he picks up. The main instruments he plays for us are piano, mandolin and acoustic guitar. Jimmy gives us the tones for our more folkie edge.
Andy McSweeney plays bass guitar & along with Dan, keeps everything nice and tight. He brings out a groovy little bass line every time without fail.
Rich Wassall is our trombone player. He has this uncanny knack of being able to play along with absolutely anything within about 5 mins of putting his ear to the track. It’s quite impressive really. Along with Jimmy he gives the band something unique.
Abishek Joshi plays percussion for us. Congos/bongos, chimes and shakers. Abbs gives us a much fuller rhythm section.
I play rhythm guitar and sing; hopefully I do it justice :).
Bring us from ‘Life in the Slow Lane’ to ‘Makin Tracks’. How have you evolved musically?
I think at the beginning of the journey it was a lot more funk/indie based. I think we have finally found our niche in the folk/blues scene. A lot of experimentation was done between the first album and the last.
What is the song writing process like for you?
I try to approach every song with a purpose. I see no reason writing something when it doesn’t convey a feeling or a particular point of views. With every single one of my songs I could tell you the story behind it.
Your favourite lyrics thus far, and tell us what they mean to you.
Hmm, good question. I’d prob have to say the 1st verse from ‘Grass Roots’. It my homage to the singer/songwriters of the 60’s. The likes of Dylan/Hendrix who tried to campaign for change in a creative way.
There’s no doubt the 60s, it started it all with its seminal words as a gun / But in such a landscape of poets and dreams lived a land of much civil unrest/ Perhaps that is why all these pivotal people arose like a phoenix in flames/ A desire for change, a voice that is strange but the people they had to get heard
Was it fun making your video for ‘Whiskey’, and what was the inspiration behind it?
I made a parody video of the ‘Southern Comfort’ commercials; which featured the tagline, whatever’s comfortable. I created this looping video, where I played a guitar lick, looped it, then another, then looped it… and so on, whilst drinking the bourbon in between ;). They really liked it and put it up on their Twitter account. A company called Deep South Barrels then got in contact with me to say they would like a video themselves. So the synopsis for Whiskey was born. We were blessed to get a very talented director (Chris Pearson, who directed ‘Making Track’) who wrote the full script for it and directed the vid.
You seem so creative, what do you enjoy the most about what you do?
The idea of creating anything is great for the soul, whether it be music, doing a drawing, or writing a story, the list is endless. For me being able to create a song that people can relate to is an immensely satisfying thing.
Shout out to your favorite band or artist at the moment.
I really enjoy what Cosmo Jarvis is doing at the minute. Other artists I really admire are Jack Johnson, The Black Keys, Fink and Half Moon Run to name a few.
Where do you hope music takes you?
It would be great to do something creative for a living. To write and perform our songs to people would be fantastic.
The greatest book ever written is… 1984 – George Orwell
My favourite movie of all time is… Into the Wild
The Boondock Hippy is hosting a party!
Any place… Croyde Bay, Devon
Any time… Summer
What’s the occasion… Beach party
Your ensemble… Flip flops, boardies, t-shirt and me, shades.
Your ride… Camper van.
Your date… My wife.
Which 3 albums are on replay… Beach Boys, Pet Sounds, Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life and Jurrasic 5-J5
What’s on the menu… BBQ
What’s the drink of the evening… Beer and wine. Standard :).
4 people on the guest list past or present that would make for stimulating conversation… Martin Luther King, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Bill Hicks.
If a lull should fall how will you breathe life back into the party… Get the surf on.
Your favorite musical moment thus far.
Prob when we supported Ian Brown from the ‘Stone Roses’ & getting our video ‘Makin Tracks’ aired on Channel 4.
The prettiest thing I have ever seen is… My Wife.
The world could use more… Guitars
Is there one quote or piece of advice that always goes with you?
Treat others as you would yourself.
True love is… My Wife.
What can we look forward to with Boondock Hippy over the coming year?
We are releasing a new album ‘Campanero’ this summer. We will also be filming a couple more official music videos and gigging towards the end of the year again.
Echoes of Nick Drake linger around the edges of this album while Noel delivers a sound that is distinctively his own. ‘I Won’t Answer’ takes you on a musical journey of emotions that at times leave your heart feeling lost, but then you are gently reminded that there are worse things to speak of, and that you are truly blessed to be lost in love. – Fresh Independence
Where are you writing this: In my breakfast nook.
Home is where your story begins, please tell us about yours.
I grew up in Brimingham Alabama, middle class, Southern Baptist, public school, suburbia. Religious upbringing.Birmingham felt like a mediocre, industrial ghost-city when i was growing up butnow it is experiencing a whole cultural rebirth that is really cool. Birmingham seems to be finally developing an identity.
How did music find you?
By way of my parents’ record player. And I would improvise on the piano in empty Sunday school rooms while I waited for my parents to get out of choir practice. By the age of 14, I was the lead singer of my first rock band, “The Royal Nonesuch.” We recorded an album of ten original songs and sold the cassettes at school. Our parents had to drive us and our gear to the gigs!