Alice in Chains vocalist-guitarist Jerry Cantrell reflects on how his band reunited in a new interview with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich for the latter’s Apple Music/Beats 1 radio show It’s Electric. The episode will air on February 10th at 3 p.m. PT.
In an exclusive clip from the show, Cantrell says that he felt it was time to get the band back together after Layne Staley’s death once he realized that singer-guitarist William DuVall was the right fit. “We had to think about this,” he says. “This is our life. We created this and just because our friend is not here, it doesn’t mean that this stuff isn’t still alive and still speaks to people and is still our work and we have nothing to be embarrassed about it. We have full ownership. This is us. This is what we do. And it took a while.”
The impetus for the reunion, though, was the 2005 Indian earthquake and tsunami that found the band getting their friends together for a concert to raise money for victims. “You saw this compassion and people [pitching] in to help people, the tsunami and all of these relief concerts and donations and stuff,” he says. “And then Sean [Kinney, drums] calls and he’s like, ‘Why don’t we do a thing and we’ll raise some money and we’ll do it for that. We’ll just do like a one-time show and like we’ll get together and we play the songs will invite some friends, I’ll do a couple of tunes so and so and whatever.'”
Cantrell goes on to explain that he met DuVall while working on his solo album, Degradation Trip, and brought him into the band. He invited DuVall to play with the surviving members of Alice in Chains, and when the singer nailed “Love Hate Love,” he felt it was time to get back to being a band seriously.
“It’s kind of exhilarating, in a way, because part of what we do is a little bit of conquering a fear,” he tells Ulrich. “I’m a really introverted guy. You know that about me and I’m very insular a lot. I can be very outgoing as well and real chatty and stuff and I can really not be, and I find that a lot of musicians are like that. And part of the thrill of doing what you do is standing in front of a fucking audience which terrifies the shit out of a lot of us and fucking conquering that and fucking throwing down, you know? And starting something or unleashing something from yourself and also unleashing something from the people in front of you and then that all mixes together and it’s like some amazing magical potion.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Cantrell discusses his writing process, the differences between Seattle and Los Angeles and how Alice in Chains maintains their band dynamic. The band is currently nominated for a Grammy for their latest album, Rainier Fog.