After four decades of rock stardom, Alice Cooper knows how to put on a show. And he wonders why today's rockers don't jump at the chance to be just as outsized as he is.

After four decades of rock stardom, Alice Cooper knows how to put on a show. And he wonders why today's rockers don't jump at the chance to be just as outsized as he is.

"Why would you want to be in a rock band if you want to be normal? How is that appealing?" Cooper said during a phone call last month. "The idea of a rock band is to be abnormal."

That's why Cooper, born Vincent Damon Furnier, relishes developing the shock-rock persona that made him a star in the '70s.

"I always write for Alice. I never write for me," Cooper said. "He's a character I write for. And the great thing is he's a very defined character for me."

Cooper plays LC Pavilion this Wednesday in the lead-up to his new album, "Welcome 2 My Nightmare," a sequel to his hit 1975 release "Welcome to My Nightmare." The original dealt with ghoulish imagery that would terrify boyhood Alice; this record tackles themes - technology, cubicles, disco - that would send middle-aged Alice running scared.

Some of those songs will likely creep into Wednesday's setlist, but the man behind the madness promised lots of hits and a rapid-fire stage show that will leave fans talking.

"I kind of like that machine-gun type of theater," Cooper said. "By the time you get home, 10 people will tell you 10 different things that happened.

"It's my own brand of theater, but it's developed over the past 45 years to what it is now. It's mixing hard rock with horror and comedy. You can't just do hard rock and horror or it doesn't work. You have to have a sense of humor."

Above all else, of course, the show has to rock. Cooper heralded the blues-based hard rock of his heyday as music's enduring hope. He was none too kind toward the rock bands of today, whom he rejected for their music - "It doesn't make you choke or make you wince; it makes you go, 'Hmm, that was kind of good'" - and for what he perceived as widespread tameness.

"I'm not seeing one rock star in the whole bunch," he said. "For some reason they all look like they went to the Gap to buy their clothes. They have short haircuts. It looks like the kid you used to beat up after school."

The one recent success story who gleaned Cooper's approval? None other than Lady Gaga.

"I'm not into her music at all, but she's got the right idea. She's doing a show. She's wrapping herself around a character like I did," Cooper said. "She wasn't going to be the next Mariah Carey, the next Sheryl Crow. She was going to be Lady Gaga, and everybody was going to follow her."