Alice Cooper from the inside of the 'Dragontown' booklet.
After touring 'Brutal Planet' for just over a year Alice wasted little time returning to the studio for the new album. Dragontown is basically 'Brutal Planet Part 2' (not part 3 as stated in Spitfire Records publicity and still repeated on the internet). Alice confirmed this fact in an Interview with Total Rock at the time of the release and several times since. Dragontown is described as "the worst town on Brutal Planet" and the songs feature various characters you could find there. As with the previous album many of the songs could be related to the current world. Of course 'Drgaontown' could also been seen as a metaphor for Hell, especially with Alice's now well publicised religious beliefs.
" I think that 'Brutal Planet' and 'Dragontown' are definitely connected at the hip. They have the same producer, same writer, just basically saying that we didn't really cover it all in part one. There were at least twelve songs that I wanted to use to continue to get the point across. I wanted to make it heavier and I wanted to make it more diverse - not just like 'Brutal Planet', but like the worst part of 'Brutal Planet'. I wanted to take it deeper into this place. I think that thirty years from now, you'll listen to these two albums together.
I created a place with 'Dragontown' that is kind of a parallel Hell and in some cases I did the unthinkable; I took some of rock's greatest heroes, who are supposed to be in Heaven, and sent them directly to Hell. I sent Elvis to Hell and I sent John Lennon there. 'It's Much To Late' is a total tribute to John Lennon. I did all the Beatles background for that; I even gave it that little nasal John Lennon sound on the vocal. And on 'Dragontown' I tried to do that with Jim Morrison; we sent Jim Morrison to Hell. I just thought that if there is a rock 'n' roll Heaven, then I don't think these guys are there. I think that their lifestyles probably put them in a much darker place."
At the time Alice told 'Get Rhythm' magazine about his relationship with Spitfire Records:
"Oh it's a hundred times better, you never get lost in the shuffle. When I was with Warner Brothers I was in a stable with over a hundred more acts -great acts- so if you did not have a number 1 album you were not getting number 1 preference, while with a smaller label you are the focus for them all the time.
Let me tell you how things also changed - back in the days of 'School's Out' and 'Billion Dollar Babies' even the president of the label, the vice president and the head of A&R would be down in the studios at 3am interested and enthusing about the record, really listening to the music and I really appreciated that. But after a while these record companies became so big, I could see it coming, that they just didn't care anymore, all they cared about was getting the product out, sell it and get the money. That's when I decided I had to go with a smaller company.
You never know who you are really working for with a major label now, so many labels are owned by companies with nothing to do with music. They are only interested in the product and whether it will sell, it could be Coca Cola, McDonalds, everything is so corporate. All they and the radio stations, who they influence and control via advertising, are after is the next thing. They cannot sit around and understand and nurture new talent and what they already have. They are always worried somebody else is going to get the upper hand on them, so a band doesn't really get a chance, one strike and you're out. I'll tell you something really interesting. There is a name artist I know, but I'll not name, that sold five million of his last album and the record company told him that if he does not sell at least five million with his next he is out, and that's insane!"
'Dragontown' continued in more or less the same vein as 'Brutal Planet' with Bob Marlette again at the controls. Although stylistically very similar in style the album did come across as a more diverse collection of songs. 'Fantasy Man' had a little of the 'Trash' swagger, and 'It's Not Too Late' had a more 70s vibe then anythng on the earlier album. In some places it was possibly even heavier, with the slow grind of 'Deeper', but as before Alice's voice pulled everything together. Sadly as with 'Brutal Planet' the album didn't exactly set the charts alight. It barely touched the US Billboard charts at #197, and even in the UK it stalled at #87, 51 places below it's predecessor. The terribly cheap looking cover probably didn't help. Was that really the best they could come up with?
Although promotional CDs of both 'Triggerman' and 'It's Much Too Late' were sent to radio stations no commercial single was released from 'Dragontown'. Chances are even it there had been a single it wouldn't have gone anywhere.
Alice spoke t 'Get Rhythm about sevral songs on the album:
"[The Triggerman] is a bit like the cigarette smoking man in The X-Files, the cancer man. He is the power behind the throne, he is the guy that pushes all the buttons that nobody ever knows about, no DNA, no identity. He's the guy that makes things happen but in my story he finally meets his match and ends up in 'Dragontown'.
[Disgraceland:] I'm a big Elvis fan and I got to know him and consider him a friend of mine. He invited me over one night and we talked for a real long time. That would be back in about '72 when he looked real good, he was like the Elvis we all like to remember. When I saw how he ended up, saw that he was bloated and stoned and wasn't really the Elvis I knew. So when he died I don't think he died in a state of grace, he died in a state of disgrace, so I used the play on words between Graceland and 'Disgraceland' and it all kind of fitted in and I think he would see the sense of humour in this
'Sister Sara' is a bit like Nurse Rozetta from '78's 'From The Inside'. She took her vows and totally blows it, she just could not live up to what she was supposed to be and she became the total opposite, but still frail and very mortal. She gets introduced to 'The Triggerman' and the 'Fantasy Man' and also 'The Sentinel' who is one of these guys that fancies himself as judge, jury and executioner, and soon realises she is in good company."