Alice in Chains made a hugely successful recording comeback in 2009 with Black Gives Way to Blue. The first album from the band featuring new singer William Duvall, the album debuted in the Top 10 of the Billboard Top 200 and scored multiple Grammy nominations.
Now the band is working on the follow-up, guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell tells Rolling Stone. “We started writing last year,” Cantrell told us when we ran into him at the Dimebash tribute in L.A., the annual show in honor late guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott.
The band plans to head into the studio early this year, according to Cantrell. The break between records wasn’t originally intended to be three years, but Cantrell had to deal with some medical ailments: “I had shoulder surgery. I had to get some bone spurs and torn cartilage taken care of, so that put me back a little bit,” he says. “But we’ve been writing through the whole process.”
Though the title track of Black Gives Way to Blue featured a guest appearance by Elton John, don’t expect high-profile guests on the new album. Cantrell remains blown away by John’s appearance on the last record. “That’s just the universe lining up right. I had nothing to do with that other than asking,” Cantrell says. “What he is, beyond anything else, is a fucking amazing musician. And he’s the guy who inspired me to start playing music, so to have him play on one of our records – especially such a meaningful record, where we’re restarting our musical careers and saying goodbye and honoring our buddy – it’s a tremendous thing.”
During interviews around the last album’s release, Cantrell spoke about the band moving on after the death of singer Layne Staley. Though the album was a belated goodbye to their fallen singer, released seven years after his death, Cantrell says the band still honors his memory.
“Layne’s mother’s been doing a show for Layne every year, and we give to that,” he says. “It’s good to remember your people. Life is very temporary, and we will be joining them shortly. Hopefully it’s not too soon, but it’s good. It’s some amazing people that should be remembered.”