Fan Q&A with Dennis: Making the Audible Version of Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!

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The audiobook version of my memoir, Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! My Adventures in the Alice Cooper Group, came out earlier this month. What a unique experience it was for me to narrate the book in one single marathon. Some of you guys on Facebook asked questions about the making of the Audible.com recording. Here are my answers.

 

What has been the biggest surprise in doing an audiobook recording session compared to a music recording session? -Mark Brown

The constant concentration required was far more intense than I imagined, and there were some sentences that required a lot of air. You don’t notice that until you’re reading aloud.

 

How long did it take to complete the recording? -Rick Gross

Four consecutive days from 10 am till 4 pm. Audible had booked 5 days but I finished a day early.

 

Did they let you have pee breaks? -Jim Steen

Yes, water breaks, pee breaks, and standup breaks because I had to sit down all day. No lunch break though. We barreled through.

 

Is it "odd" to speak what you have written? Performing live music is a little different than reading a "script" and adding that personality. -Michael Durso

Yes, reading the stories is a lot different than just reeling them off. Adding personality is the goal. I can imitate Glen’s voice pretty well but I pulled back on that a bit because I’m not so good at imitating the other guys’ voices.

 Carriage House Studios, CT

Carriage House Studios, CT

Did you work with a producer? If so, was working with a producer on the audiobook different than working with a producer on music and if so, how? -Jeffrey David Cox

Brendan Muldowney was the studio engineer in that did the recording while Bruce Kitovich was in the control room following word for word and helping me with every tiny thing. Bruce is amazing!

We recorded the audiobook at Carriage House Studios in Connecticut. It's where I recorded Electrocution of the Heart with Deadringer in 1989.

 

Read the book in a day—thoroughly enjoyed it. Did you read from the book in and of itself or did you improvise along the way? -Mary Mullin

It’s an exact reading of the book, except where vocal clarification is absolutely necessary. It’s as detailed as deciding whether or not to say “number one in parentheses” in “Attention: This Carton Contains One (1) Alice Cooper Muscle of Love Fragile.”

 

Will there be any new addenda to the current book? Also will there be sound effects, e.g. Gunshot to foot!!! -Dante Hammond

Ha ha. The gunshot sound effect is me shouting, “Crack!” Co-author Chris Hodenfield and I recorded a conversation of us talking about the creation of the book, which I believe is part of the Audible download.

 

When you did Shep's parts, did you use reverb and thunder to give it a god-like sound? -Flash Page

That would have worked for the Platinum God, too!

 

Will there be a movie based on your book? -Eric Battleson

I have no plans at this point, but the memoir is really reaching people so we'll see. Did you catch the fantasy Alice Cooper storyline on HBO's VINYL, though?

 

Dennis. Totally enjoyed your book. I think most people on here recognize how great and innovative your bass lines are. In your audiobook [do you] talk about how you came up with some of these lines or what influenced these great bass lines. Us normal bass players are just amazed at what you did. -Marc Pepin

Thank you very much. The audiobook, like the text version, explains my approach, which was highly exploratory for most every part I wrote. I usually began writing each bass part by trying the more abstract ideas and pulling back until the part fit the song. This process involved complementing the vocals and every instrument involved, especially Neal’s patterns.

 

Dad, how come you read the book instead of Johnny Depp or Leonardo DiCaprio? Because I would have really loved to have met Johnny Depp or Leonardo DiCaprio. -Renee Dunaway

Bruce from Audible and I talked about Johnny Depp’s reading of the award-winning audio version of Keith Richards's book, LIFE. Bruce said Johnny was so busy that they had to follow him to various cities and book sessions of an hour or two at a time, then edit it all together. I did have a random poet audition to narrate a beatnik rendition of Snakes

 

I already read my hard copy of Snakes! What does the Audiobook give me that the hard copy doesn’t? Or is it just for those nerds who like to drive and listen to books? -Ty Colins

I had just finished reading the hard copy of Keith Richards’s book when I got the audiobook version. I expected it to be a similar experience, but it was absorbingly fresh in a whole new way.

It’s great to hear similar feedback from so many people that feel that way about my audiobook. And it’s especially satisfying to hear from so many people that rely on being able to hear it.

 

How can I buy a copy? Will you be signing them? Do you discuss your inspiration for the bass solo during “Halo of Flies?" One of my favorite things ever. -Rick Friel

For “Halo of Flies,” we called that a drum solo but it’s actually a bass and drums duet. At that time, every drummer was doing a drum solo, so Neal and I decided to be different by having the bass keep going throughout. I knew it needed to be a high-energy, repetitive bass part so that’s what I came up with. It’s a physically challenging part that often became a marathon on stage while Neal was getting into it. I’d be feeling the burn and praying for the next part to come.

For the studio recording, we decided to record the bass only through that whole section and we added Neal’s drum part after. That’s because we wanted his drums to be recorded in a tile bathroom downstairs. The building's night watchman laughed as the whole band brought Neal’s drums down through the lobby.

At this point, the Audible version is a digital download so there’s nothing to sign, but I feel like I’ve already signed every word with my heart and soul. Audible may release a CD version down the road. You can download the audiobook from Audible or Amazon, and you can order autographed hard copies of the book from several online retailers. My website will always have the most current information on how to get your paws on a copy of Snakes!

Do you have a question on the making of the Audible version of Snakes!? Leave it in the comments below and I'll respond.