Michael Christopher of Vanyaland.com recently conducted an interview with ALICE IN CHAINS singer William DuVall. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Vanyaland.com: Fiven the success of "Black Gives Way To Blue", was there less pressure going in to record ["The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here"]?
DuVall: Yeah, in many ways there was, mainly because there was no hill to climb like the hill we had to climb making "Black Gives Way to Blue". That presented a unique situation that you wouldn't wish on any artist. [laughs] The force of will that it took — no pun intended — to face down all of those challenges from within and without, to shut out that noise, the court of public opinion that was raging in the outside world, to shut that out and kind of develop a cocoon like mentality to get that record done was pretty tremendous. That was a unique thing that will never happen again, thankfully, and just glad that it all worked out. Going into this one, it was much more about the music, I'm happy to say.
Vanyaland.com: And there's already enough pressure that you guys put on yourselves when it comes to just the music.
DuVall: We're going to put ourselves through the wringer to do anything anyway — it's who we are. We're harder on ourselves than anyone on the outside can be on us. We are always trying to max out our capacity to dig down and come up with whatever is needed, to paint the most accurate picture of whatever is going on in our lives. It was nice to have it just be about the music, it's not the outside world saying, "How dare they!" and "Do we even have the right to do this?" It's not defending your very right to exist — that has become a settled question.
Vanyaland.com: The title probably threw people for a loop more than Jerry's [Cantrell, guitar] haircut.
DuVall: That's what I'm talking about. It was influenced by what's happening in the world that we're living through. There's a lot going on in our country and in the world. We kept coming up against this kind of push back mentality; one might say willful ignorance even. It's not like the moral majority in the '80s, this now is something that's influencing the laws in a way that I've never seen it before. It's always been in the mix, but now it's loud as hell. We're seeing people on the national scene, people controlling or at least contributing to the national discourse, like when that guy [Rep. Todd Akin] came out with that statement about "legitimate rape," and there were hundreds of statements like that, it seemed like there was another one every day. We're looking at this and tripping out, going, "Wow." It's a snapshot of what's going on in everyone's life, "Well, the devil put dinosaurs here," it was a semi-humorous take on what we were observing throughout that whole period leading up to now.
Vanyaland.com: Last month, Layne's [Staley, late ALICE IN CHAINS singer] dad came out during a show to say hello to the audience. And I remember a few years ago you telling me the story about how one time you played in Seattle and Layne's mom came up to you after the show and she was telling you how proud of you she was. Obviously those are events that are going to be emotional for the band, and I'm guessing that it's got to have some resonance with you as well.
DuVall: Well, sure. It's really heavy, personal stuff. This is somebody's family. I just sort of try to ride that stuff out and be very sensitive to the whole situation, to the whole picture. It's a lot of good feeling and good vibes all around because everyone is aware of the losses and of the sadness. Now, those situations become further examples of how you move through something like that and how you build on top of losses. Resonance? Of course; it has resonance for all of us and we all just tried to be sensitive towards it.
Read the entire interview at Vanyaland.com.