For a moment, Alice Cooper probably thought his bass player wasn't going to live to tell about the band's new album.
Chuck Garric, who grew up in South Lake Tahoe, has been playing bass for Cooper for six years. Heavily muscled and tattooed, Garric, who often wears a mohawk, looks and acts the part for Cooper, the godfather of rock 'n' roll theatrics and Goth.
A cold, rainy night at an outdoor venue in Russia could have been the venue for an ultimate macabre onstage scene: Cooper impaling his bassist with a sword.
The release of hundreds of balloons accompanies the song "School's Out," and Cooper punctures them with a sword while he sings. At least that's what usually happens. But this time Cooper couldn't get the sword out of its scabbard.
"So he just heaves the sword at the balloon, thinking he's going to pop it," Garric said, "but the sheath goes flying off and stabs me right in the collarbone. I thought he had stabbed me with the sword. You can only imagine the panic in me."
Garric figured he would survive when he realized that it was the scabbard (and not the sword) that hit him.
"Alice is looking at me with this look on his face like 'I just killed my bass player.' It hurt so bad. I had this big bruise on my collarbone. I'd thought, 'Well, he finally got me. After all these years he'd finally got me.' " The details are more gruesome in the CD "Along Came A Spider," released July 29. It's the third Alice Cooper album featuring Garric.
"There's this serial killer named Spider who needs to collect eight arms and eight legs," Garric said on his cell phone after a concert in Sioux City, Iowa. "That's his MO. Each track on the record tells a story about this serial killer and his mind-set and what's going on."
Cooper's tour includes only a couple of tracks from the new album. Next summer's tour will highlight "Along Came A Spider."
Garric is the primary songwriter on the songs "Killed By Love" and "Feminine Side," and contributed his unique bass playing and background vocals to several songs on the new record.
"Basically, all the songs are conceptual to what's in the killer's mind," Garric said. "On 'Killed by Love' he finds himself in a little bit of a problem because he falls in love with one of his victims, and he is unable to kill her. You need to listen to the entire record because there is a twist at the end to what's really going on."
He said the album's story is a "cliffhanger," and it will leave listeners wondering what will happen next. Moreover, knowledgeable Cooper fans will enjoy putting the clues together.
Garric's resume includes playing with Dio, L.A. Guns, Gene Loves Jezebel, and the Boxmasters with Billy Bob Thorton. Garric moved to Southern California after a record company signed his band Turd after seeing a performance in the cavern at Rojo's.
Garric also plays with a band called ESP, led by drummer Eric Singer, who also plays with Cooper and Kiss, guitarist Bruce Kulick (Kiss from 1984-96) and John Carabi (the singer who replaced Vince Neil in Mötley Crüe). ESP will tour South America, Japan, and Europe this winter.
"We play a lot of Kiss songs and old '70s stuff like Deep Purple and Humble Pie," Garric said.
Garric is a 1985 graduate of South Tahoe High School, and the doting father of 13-year-old Alisha. Garric brought his daughter along on a European tour, and Alisha performed as a zombie during renditions of "Welcome to My Nightmare."