The Torso Speaks!
Interview by Devon Jones & Si Halley
Photos by Bill Crowe
Detroit native Tommy Clufetos joined the Alice Cooper band in 2004 having played with wildman Ted Nugent when Alice and Ted toured a couple of years ago. He was hailed by many as bringing a more tribal energy to the songs and recently was praised by none other then Neal Smith as being one of only two drummers who`s ever really caught the groove of Neal's original drum parts.
ST: First of all, thank you so much for speaking with us! Many fans were undoubtedly surprised to hear that Eric Singer had left Alice for one touring season to be with Kiss. How did it come to be that you would be enlisted as Alice's new drummer?
TC: Well after Eric was offered extremly large sums of money to play drums in Kiss, the guys of Alice Cooper needed to find another drummer.Ted Nugent and Alice had toured together the previous summer and we had all become friends and kept in contact, anyways I happened to be in LA when this went down and went to audition and got the gig - and I was so excited and still am --------- Ryan, Chuck & Damon--and Alice & Calico are so great - we all get along so good on & off stage because we all just want to perform every night, everyone gives it up every night and that's what it's all about! And Gotta say what respect I have for Eric Singer as a player and Profesional - he sounded so great when i went to see him with Kiss - you could tell he really makes the other guys have a great time on stage and i've seen it (Kiss) with him and without him!!! A True Pro!
ST: What is different between drumming for Alice Cooper and drumming for Ted Nugent?
TC: Even though there are a lot of differences there are probably more similarities - both Alice and Ted are the upmost profesionals and just want to put on the greatest show possible under any circumstances - and have been for the last 40 years, that to me is success and what being a entertainer is all about-----------that said---- Ted's music must be played really pushed and with a on the top feel for the most part - while Alice music has a lot of other places and moods he gets into - like a Only Women Bleed & Dwight Frye - both ways are great ---- I approach the gigs basically the same - I'm playing songs that have been recorded by other people and people are used to hearing them a certain way - I try to capture the vibe of the record on the gig ------ not saying that I don't change anything - but i always play the signature parts the same but maybe sometimes with some more untamed Detroit attitude thrown in there!!!
ST: What is different between the audiences at an Alice Cooper Concert than a Ted Nugent Concert?
TC: Alice has sum goth & straight ahead rock fans - And Ted has some rednecks and straight ahead rock fans - all love to be rocked.
ST: For someone at your young age, you have lived up to alot that many people many years older than you still wish they had accomplished, do you think you have achieved your maximum drumming ability or do you still feel that you are "growing?"
TC: I pick up something from every gig I have ever played - and always learn what to do and sometimes just as important what not to do!!!--------that's why I play to get better, cause one day some young punks gonna come and kick my ass
ST: You have worked with the likes of many notible arists in the rock genre like ZZ Top, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, and Alice Cooper. However according to your official site you have been known to play songs of all types and genres. Are there any artists of genres of music other than rock that you would like to play drums for?
TC: There are 2 kinds of music good and bad - I'll play for anyone who plays the good stuff
ST: Who do you consider your heroes as far as Drummers go?
TC: Earl Palmer - (Little Richard drummer), Alex Van Halen, Tommy Lee -- too many, but guys who play with fire in their playin' - and that doesn't mean it has to be loud - it can be at whisper too
ST: Is Ted Nugent as wild off stage as he is on stage? Do you have any funny or crazy stories about Ted that you'd like to share?
TC: Ted is insane---------longest set i've ever done 3 hrs 40 minutes - Chicago - that was nuts
ST: Neal Smith recently stated in an interview with Sleaze Roxx that you were among the top two drummers who were able to play the quintessential song "Halo of Flies" right down to the teeth, next only to Michael Bruce's drummer Jason Callear. He also said you were one of only two drummers he's ever seen that he thought "understood" how the original band material should be played. This is a rare but extremely huge compliment to know that you are one of only two drummers ever seen by an original band member who thought you brought back the feeling and energy of the original Alice Cooper Group. What did you think of this compliment and what is your reaction to the opinion itself?
TC: Thanks Neal -- and man did he come up with some inventive stuff, that band was so groundbreaking and monumental when you look at some of the other stuff that was out at the same time whether it was the Mamas & The Papa's or like a Bobby Vee teen idol --- how insane was Alice Cooper!!!! He is a killer drummer, nice guy when I met him - just trying to do those songs justice - and can't wait to do my thing on the next AC record
ST: I think it is safe to say that you actually really do put on a show during an entire Alice Cooper concert with your mannorisms, giving the "Crazy Maniacal Drummer" look. (I.E. raising your drumsticks in the air and slamming down on the snares and making all of the facial expressions like you want to tear your drum kit apart, which is extremely extremely cool) Something I think attracted many A.C. fans to you. What is behind this and does it let you seperate yourself from on stage to off?
TC: There is really no thought put into my personal stage show - that's just how I play (when it's called for ) all out all the time-balls to the wall--- i'm just so into what i do that - that is what comes out ---------- I only get to work 2 hrs a day so I work my ass off-maybe that's why it's so small. Oh- while I'm always in a good mood and foolin' around I'm am the most boring person offstage - no crazy aftershow party for me or gettin' in when the sun comes up - I'm the grandpa of the band----and I'm tired after putting on the Crazy Maniacal Drummer image for all the AC fans out there!!
ST: Apparently you've been asked this before, but are your drum sticks made purposely to be like "Mini Alice Canes?" (Black Sticks with White ends?)
TC: They are AHEAD
drumsticks not made to look like his canes - but works out good
ST: During "Halo of Flies," you had to play a powerful drum solo for at least 8 minutes it seemed like. Did you do a different drum solo every night or did you have that same one memorized? Did that solo alone wear your body out?
TC: After you start doin' the solo you find things that work and I'll develop a certain structure but I always improvise within that structure everynight----------I never get tired---I wish we were still on tour!
ST: During last year's rehearsals before going out on tour, were there other songs rehearsed but never made it into the setlist? And if so which songs?
TC: Every song we rehearsed we played
ST: What songs would you like to play live for Alice?
TC: it really doesn't matter what songs we play to me - I enjoy the whole show - all the songs are my favorite - every show is my favorite---get it???
ST: At the end of the XM Radio Broadcast of Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits Album, the announcer introduced you as "Tommy The Torso." Where did this nickname come from?
TC: I use to perform as Tommy the Torso in the Ringeling Bros. & Barnum & Baileys circus 'cause I have the longest torso known to man. Alice saw me performing and thought I would be a great attraction on his Rock & roll Carnival Tour -I've been with him ever since!
ST: Did you ever get tired of having to explain to everyone that you weren`t really from every town you played on the Eyes tour, as Alice claimed every night during the band intros?
TC: I liked when Alice introduces me as being from that city cause i always get the loudest round of applause
ST: That will wrap up the interview now. Anything you would like to add?
TC:Thanks so much see ya in 05
Thank you Tommy Clufetos for the chat and everything you have done. You really have won over the Alice Cooper fans fast. Hope to hear more from you soon.