When the three remaining members of Alice in Chains -- guitarist Jerry Cantrell, bassist Mike Inez and drummer Sean Kinney -- return to the stage at L.A.'s Roxy May 18th to kick off a world tour, the reunited band will have some friends in tow, including Velvet Revolver bassist Duff McKagan and Comes With the Fall vocalist William DuVall.
"These guys are my bros from way back, and for me it's kind of a dream come true to play with Alice in Chains," McKagan said the other night at a viewing party for the VH1 Decades Live tribute to Heart featuring the new Alice. McKagan will be joining the band for selected gigs, including England's prestigious Donington festival. "It's a band I've always wanted to play in," he added. "I played with them in their first gig in L.A. I got up and played 'Man in a Box.'"
DuVall, who will be touring with the band full-time as a guest vocalist, is also thrilled to join the group. He and Cantrell actually became friends on tour around the time -- April 2002 -- when founding Alice vocalist Layne Staley died of a drug overdose.
"Cantrell and I suffered through touring through Layne's death and the aftermath of that," says DuVall. "We were on the road, so that was something I experienced in very close proximity to him. One of the first gigs we did was at the Key Arena in Seattle right after Layne had died. It was a really emotional thing. So you go through those kinds of things together, and when something like this comes up it kind of settles the score a bit."
DuVall believes the fans will welcome back the Seattle grunge band, who during their mid-Nineties heyday scored four straight Top Ten albums -- including two consecutive Number Ones, 1994's Jar of Flies and 1995's Alice in Chains. But more than their commercial success, Alice in Chains were one of the more influential groups of the Nineties, an outfit to which bands like Godsmack, Days of the New, Creed and Taproot owe some of their sound.
Fellow Seattle-ites Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson have been close friends and big supporters of Alice for some time, and they share Duvall's optimism. "What happened with Alice is they could've been so huge, but then the singer died," says Ann. "They were like [Led] Zeppelin, where they decided they weren't going to come together with another person until now."
The new Alice in Chains have been rehearsing in L.A., and DuVall says the band will have some treats for fans when they hit the road. "We're going deep into the catalogue. I've made up four sets, and there's very little overlap between them," he explains.
"I think it's overwhelmingly positive," DuVall predicts of the response to the reformed group live. "It's going to be a cathartic thing for everybody. There's going to be a great outpouring of emotion -- from the stage and from the audience."