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Interview: NEAL SMITH

Rock Stars...

Neal Smith was the drummer with Alice Cooper from 1967-1974. Since the 80s he's had a very successful career selling real estate, but he still keeps a handle on the rock business as evidenced with his new project "KillSmith".

Neal Smith
Neal Smith: more clean-cut than his CD

How long has the KillSmith concept been floating around?

Writing and recording the music for Sexual Savior took four years. During that time the concept was always naturally the second Neal Smith solo album. However as time went on and the music mutated darker and darker, calling it Neal Smith Sexual Savior did not do it justice. It demanded a stronger identity. Over time I came up with several dozen names and concepts, but late 2007 my new solo endeavor was officially christened KillSmith, because my new music is KillSmith.

How much is KillSmith Neal Smith the person and Neal Smith the original Alice Cooper drummer?

KillSmith has nothing to do with the AC drummer Neal Smith, as a matter of fact Neal Smith does not exist in this band. KillSmith is the singer/guitarist and the drummer is Rattlesnake Smith. The Smith is purely coincidence.

Any plans to perform the CD live - do you sing and play drums at the same time?

Possible plans for videos, but nothing live at this point. For KillSmith to play drums and sing all of these songs would almost be physically impossible. KillSmith would need Rattlesnake to play drums for him!

Who's in the group?

Me and Peter The Cat on bass, definitely. As far as additional guitarist my first choice would be my two guitarist's on the CD, Lord Bryan Morrell and Tommy-Gun Crowley. Rattlesnake would be hard to find, but possible.

Who are you targeting with the new CD - do you think the old ACG core fans will embrace it?

Fuck targeting any market, I wrote these songs because I think there is a massive void in the music industry at present. If old AC fans dig KillSmith that's cool and if I can capture a whole new generation getting into KillSmith that's cool too.

But let me be very clear, first and foremost my main goal was to create some music that I would actually enjoy listen to over and over again. Personally, I haven't heard any new music that I have liked for years.

As far as American Idol is concerned, it's a talent killer not a talent maker. 90% of the greatest bands and singers over the last 40 years would have been cut in the first round from that fucking show. My music is for all of the rest of the world, not American Idiot I mean Idol fans.


The packaging and photos are slick and high concept (nothing less to be expected from Neal Smith) - who did the packaging/photos - whose concept etc?

I came up with and directed the total concept from the music to the CD packaging. I did it with the help of some incredibly talented musicians, sound technicians, photographers, models and graphic designers who made all of my concepts come to life. Great people who I look forward to working with again in the future on the next KillSmith CD.

What drums are you playing today - do you still have the monster kit from the '70s? Who were and are your drum influences - current music influences?

I have about two hundred or so drums of every race, creed and color lying around the house. But currently I favor my two Gretsch kits that I have fused together as one nine piece set.

One is a classic 70's Gretsch kit and the other is a classic 80's, both with natural birds-eye maple finish and 24" bass drums.

My early drumming influences were Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Sandy Nelson, Dennis Wilson (Beach Boys), Ringo, Charlie Watts, Keith Moon and Ginger Baker. And from the 70's on, me of course!

Some of my current musical influences: Tapping The Vein, Pig Face, King's X, Shirley Temple Of Doom and Thrill Kill Kult, and Rammstein.

What's going on with BDS - is the band disbanded or taking a break?


Give us a Neal Smith/Keith Moon story.

The first time we played with the Who, we opened for them at the Easttown Theatre in downtown Detroit in the early 70's. Love It To Death was our newest album and our single "I'm Eighteen" was racing up the charts.

We ended the set with an explosive version of "Black Ju Ju." At the finale of that song Charlie our lighting tech, ignited smoke bombs while Alice ripped apart feather pillows and Michael Bruce opened the valve of a full size CO2 tank and ran around stage blasting flying feathers with jets of CO2 out into the audience.

At this point I'm playing like a wild man going a thousand miles an hour all over my massive 20 piece chrome drum kit as the lights are insanely flashing and Dennis, Glen and I are playing thunderously. The standing, screaming crowd went crazy, demanded an encore and we graciously granted their wish by playing it and then exited the stage.

Right after that I was in the dressing room backstage and Goose my head drum roadie, said "Hey boss do you see what was happening while you were playing "Black Ju Ju?" I said yes my heart was about to jump out of my chest. He said no, Keith Moon was on his drum set right behind you playing beat for beat during the whole song Black Ju Ju.

The opening band at the Easttown would always play very close to the front of the stage and an huge old movie screen would be pulled down in front of the headliners stage equipment. Although you couldn't see through the screen from the front, apparently the screen was transparent from the back, giving Keith the closest and best view of our show.

I could not see or hear him, but I would have loved to have that filmed from the side of the stage with both Keith and me kicking ass to "Black Ju Ju!" Goose said it was fucking unbelievable to watch.

Michael Bruce told me once that you, him and Dennis hung out with Hendrix in a hotel room - any recollections?

Yes, Michael's absolutely right, it was in the spring of 1968 after Jimi, Mitch & Noel played in Tucson Arizona at the Tucson VIP Club. Actually the VIP sold out and the promoter had to move the show to a bigger venue, a local bowling alley.

After an incredible performance by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, they invited us back to their hotel room and we partied with them till the wee hours of the morning. It was a blast, I describe the whole "Stone Free" evening of our two bands partying together, in the book that I am currently writing.

You were at the recording sessions when the Doors did Morrison's Hotel - any recollections?

Yes, we were invited by Robbie and John to go to the recording session. Alice and I went to the session and the song the Doors were recording that night was the song that would eventually be the opening track for the album Morrison Hotel, "Road House Blues."

I remember that night very and session very well. One of the most amazing things was that they recorded that song live. Jim was singing, Robbie playing leads Ray on keyboards, and John Sebastian playing harmonica

Will the ACG band minus Glen ever reunite?

If somebody pays us enough money we will!


Interview © 2008 Billy James. All rights reserved.

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