Ultimate-Guitar.com recently conducted an interview with ALICE IN CHAINS guitarist Jerry Cantrell. A few excerpts from the chat follow:Ultimate-Guitar.com: Certainly the notion of finding a singer to front the band must have brought a lot of emotions to the surface. Jerry: "There was two ways that we looked at doing it — it's a tricky thing. Number one, it's a tricky thing because Layne [Staley] was so fuckin' amazing. He had such an individual and unique sound and the way that we wrote and worked together, he and I vocally as well, it was a really identifiable sound. I was fortunate enough to have him as a writing partner. His vocal style was totally unique, it was a really great blend of both of us as well. We kind of found both of our voices together. You've got to be really careful, we didn't want to come out and fuckin' be some goddamn cover version of the band. So there were a couple things to consider: You don't want to get somebody that's a complete knockoff clone. Somebody's gotta be individual enough to bring it but there's a certain technical kind of requirement. Somebody that has got the firepower that can operate in the areas that Layne operated in which are pretty fuckin' tough, you know? It's pretty amazing what he did and time and again I hear people try to do what he did and it's a very difficult task. So, we've worked with a bunch of guys and we're currently gonna do a string of shows in Europe with a buddy of ours, William DuVall, that we've been playin' with and I played with in my solo band and stuff. Everything's feelin' pretty good right now and without saying that he's the guy, this is the guy, we really don't know where this is going. For right now, we're having a really great time with William and he can deliver and still be himself which I think is really important so that's where we're at today." Ultimate-Guitar.com: Does the ALICE IN CHAINS catalog as performed by William still move you? Do the songs translate all these years later? Jerry: "It's just great. The whole thing about it beyond just spending the time together like we used to, going through the process of what it takes to do this professionally and it takes a lot of work to do it right, is we wrote a lot of great fuckin' material. So it's pretty much pickin' up where we left off. Revisiting the material and having everybody in the same room bringin' it. It's kind of like we never left and it's really nice. It's a thing to really be grateful for is that type of magic with a band and I've never really experienced outside. I've done a lot of great things that I'm proud of, I've played with some great musicians, made some good records and played with a lot of other guys that are very much ribbon players. But there's magic with this band that I've never experienced that is still here and it's great. There's another cool thing about it is that we were able to create somethin' that people dug and you still put those records on today and it doesn't sound dated. The shit is still fresh and it's impactful and it's as huge as it ever was." Ultimate-Guitar.com: Have you done any collaborating with William or brought in any new songs? Jerry: "We haven't done any writing yet together. The process that we started here, we're in the middle basically so we're dialing in what we're doin' and a lot of attention is being spent with that. But with any type of situation after you get the show together and you get out and start playing, you know the songs, you've been playing 'em for years. So shit usually happens out of boredom. At soundchecks, in the bus, whatever. We haven't done any of that stuff yet but I wouldn't put it past us to come up with some stuff. It just fuckin' feels good, dude, I mean, that's all I can tell ya. And we're doin' this from a place in our heart where we're comin' out to play the material because we love the material and we haven't really had an opportunity to do that in quite a long time. I had never even considered the fact that maybe we might do it until recently. So, we want to come out and play and have a good time, we want the shit to be represented right to honor what we did together and honor our bro, and continue on with life. That's really what it's about. (And) people that never got to see us which is another kind of cool thing. Although we toured a lot early on in our career — we were like on the road pretty much from 1987 to '94 and in the studio — and after that we pretty much didn't do a whole lot of anything except for put a couple records out ('Jar Of Flies'; 'Alice In Chains'; 'Unplugged'). So there's a lot of people that didn't get the opportunity to see us, there's a lot of people that maybe found us later after we stopped touring, so there's a lot of real exciting things about it. It could be a really cool thing. And we're also gonna take it to a lot of places we never got to go to." Ultimate-Guitar.com: You touched on it earlier but did your solo career really feed that creative hunger? It's been some time since you released a solo album — will there be another one? Jerry: "I don't know, man. I've got a healthy batch of material that I've worked on over the last couple of years before this started to become a reality and of course anything is going to take a backseat to ALICE and it always really had. I've got a ton of shit that I think is really good material; I really haven't had the chance to bring it to whoever it needs to be to put out a third record. But I assume at some point I will. Why not? It's a challenge doing stuff like that outside of what you're normally used to doing. The stage that ALICE operates on is a different one than you feel as a solo artist no matter who you are. You find a lot of cats who are much bigger with your band than you are on your own no matter how badass you are. But it's not necessarily about that, it's about exploring different areas and maybe things that you haven't done and trying to feel out what you're capable of doing. It's something I'm interested in and we'll see where it goes from there. But for right now this is on and that's plenty for me." Ultimate-Guitar.com: Would these songs you've been working on be appropriate for ALICE? Or is there a division between solo and band compositions? Jerry: "Well, I don't know. I was really lucky in the situation that we with ALICE because a lot of stuff that I wrote the guys liked and we played and it worked. Whatever works for the band is what everybody likes. If everybody gets behind somethin' and we play it then it's an ALICE tune. Songwriting is one thing and it's one of the most important things — it's fuckin' crafting a fuckin' kickass song. But the other part of that is having kickass people to play it, to take that song further than you probably would have on your own. And that was the great thing about ALICE, even if somebody didn't directly write the song or anything, just by them playing on it and their interpretation of what's going on or variations off the basic idea, that's what makes it a tune. And that's what makes a good song a great song. And that's also a band which is equally as important." Read the entire interview at Ultimate-Guitar.com.
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