ARTISTdirect.com editor Rick Florino recently conducted an interview with ALICE IN CHAINS guitarist Jerry Cantrell. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
ARTISTdirect.com: Do you feel like BlackDiamondSkye is a musical crossroads of sorts? What's your vision of it?
Jerry Cantrell: It's a good crossroads but not in the Ralph Macchio way [Laughs]. The cool thing is you've got three very individual bands that are hard to put a definite tag on. In general, it's probably easier to digest or write about something if you can put a tag on it. We've got grunge, and that encompasses five or six different bands from one town that don't sound anything like each other [Laughs]. I'm sure the other guys have their takes on it too. We've all worked really hard, and we wanted to put together something special to end the touring cycle. We figured MASTODON would be done because they've been touring their asses off on "Crack the Skye". Luckily, they came along to be a part of it.
ARTISTdirect.com: You can't really define ALICE IN CHAINS, DEFTONES or MASTODON.
Jerry Cantrell: There are three individual musical fingerprints, and you get a hand with three fingers so obviously we've done some things wrong [Laughs]. We've lost a few fingers along the way, but these three fingers are kickass, dude [Laughs].
ARTISTdirect.com: Were there any package tours similar to BlackDiamondSkye that you went to when you were a kid?
Jerry Cantrell: To me, concerts have always been about a group of bands. I don't think we're doing anything new here. It's just a really cool collection of bands. Some of my best moments going to concerts have been bills with two or three bands. We do a lot of festivals, so we end up playing a lot of shows with 40 or 50 bands [Laughs].
ARTISTdirect.com: Was "What the Hell Have I" recorded specifically for [the] "Last Action Hero" [soundtrack]?
Jerry Cantrell: That was something we had. Sometimes, you can have a song around that kind of relates to a movie. It's in the can, but it works. That's been the case for us a couple of times. We were all huge "Arnie" fans, and we were hoping for something like "Predator". The soundtrack was pretty cool. There was some AC/DC, MEGADETH and a bunch of other great shit on there. We had "A Little Better" and "What the Hell Have I" sitting around, and we went in and recorded them specifically for the soundtrack. I think the filmmakers heard some demos beforehand. Music and film are pretty interconnected. Even music, in general, creates visuals for you anyway. I listen to BLACK SABBATH, LED ZEPPELIN or any number of bands, and the music takes you to a place or creates a landscape. It's a visual thing. Being a kid who sort of lived in his own head, I remember that. You listen to music, and it takes you somewhere. It's an obvious marriage of expression; it's just a different art form. The two together go hand-in-hand. I love doing stuff for film. You create visuals with the music anyway, and that just takes it to another level.
ARTISTdirect.com: Do you have any defining tour memories from the "Dirt" era?
Jerry Cantrell: I don't remember a lot of "Dirt" [Laughs]. It can be a blur. The things I remember about that particular tour or any tour are some of the places we played and the bands we played with and things that went on. When you've been together for a long time, it's hard to pick a line or two out of the book anymore. There's a lot of shit in there to weed through.
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