by Micheal Moses;
Jerry Cantrell is tired.
So when I stupidly made a comment about how the band had been on the road for such a long time, his reply was a blunt, "No shit."
(Still, I can't help but get the feeling that even if Cantrell had been well-rested, I'd have gotten that answer anyway. I don't think subtlety is one of his strong suits.)
Along with andmaates Layne Staley (vocals), Mike Starr (bass) and Sean Kinney (drums), Cantrell's entitled to be tired. Hell, Alice In Chains have been on the road for a year and two months.
That is a long time.
I know, I know...NO SHIT.
"We got to go home for Thanksgiving and then we went back on the road with Van Halen. We'll probably be on the road until January," he said, rather sheepishly.
Sure, touring may not be a trip to Wonderland for the Alice boys, but all their hard work is paying off. Stints with Extreme, Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth (those last three coming off the Clash of the Titans Tour) and now, Van Halen, have pushed the band's debut LP, Facelift, past gold status and on its way towards platinum.
I recently talked to Cantrell about the road, the band and all the bumps and potholes in between.
RB: How did the crowd treat you on the Clash of the Titans Tour? You guys aren't as thrashy as Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax.
JC: We were kinda concerned about how it would go because we had heard some crazy things about Slayer's audience [laughs}. There were times when people really started heckling us and Layne would just stand there and put 'em back in their place. We were just there to do our job, which was to play, and luckily everything worked out well.
RB: Did it bother you that most of the media attention seemed to focus on Mustaine, Ian and Araya, leaving you guys out in the process?
JC: Well, I can understand why people would not want to say anything about us, since they didn't know anything about us - but on the other hand, we played every show those bands played and there were a couple of major magazines who didn't put in one single mention that we even played. I thought that was really bogus. From one side of it, the media side, it was kinda like being a ghost on tour at times. I know we haven't been around as long as other bands, but we played just as hard every night, maybe a little shorter set, but...
RB: Was there any incident on tour that stands out as being more memorable than others?
JC: The Red Rocks Amphitheater show in Denver. That was one intense show. Half the crown was totally against us and the other half was into us, so they were fighting the whole show. They were chucking things at us and we were chucking it back at them, everybody was just going off. We had just done a 24-hour video shoot the day before...straight shooting., flown to the next city, slept one hour, did an instore and then did that show. At the point of all the craziness, we just didn't give a
f?!k. The kids started coming down on us and we were jumping back in their faces. They were surprised 'cause they expected us to cruise off the stage with our tails between our legs [laughs]. But we were like "F?!k you. We're here and we're not leaving till we're done."
RB: Okay, was there any positive incident that stood out?
JC: Actually, the personal highlight of the tour for me was hanging out with Slayer all the time. Those guys were so cool as people, y'know? They definitely made it worthwhile. Whenever we were bummed out, we could go hang out with them and they would make us feel better.
RB: I think most people would find it difficult to see Slayer in that kind of light, what with their image and all...
JC: Before we met those guys I had never really listened much to what they had done and that was pretty much my opinion of them too, which was wrong. I was totally judging a book by its cover and I was very surprised. They were very different from what I expected them to be.
RB: How different is it playing to a Van Halen crowd as opposed to that thrash-oriented Titan crowd?
JC: It's the same situation that we've been on all along 'cause we're still the opener. This Van Halen tour is a great f?!king tour to be on, 'cause it's sold out every night. It's incredible. Just this last year, we opened for everyone from Poison to Slayer. We've toured with Extreme, Iggy Pop, Megadeth, Anthrax, Van Halen and Slayer. Each [band] has its own separate audience and identitiy, and we're still forming our own, so it's a pretty new thing. It's the same type of reaction. That's the way it is. An opening band can only expect to win over as many people as possible and play as well as they can. And that's what we do. You gotta be entertaining and keep people's attention. It doesn't matter where you're at, or who you're with.
RB: Have you started writing yet for the next album?
JC: As far as material goes, we're pretty much full.
RB: You guys have said that the moody aura of Facelift was a direct result of the brooding atmosphere and feel of Seattle. Since you've been away from home for over a year and you wrote all the new material on the road, do you think the Alice In Chains sound has changed at all?
JC: A different place is a different place. The people are still the same.
RB: I'm going on the notion that we're all a product of our environment.
JC: No. I'm a product of my own mind. Look, I'm not going to write "Man in the Box II," or "We Die Young Mark III" The new stuff is different music, but it's still us. It's varied just like the first album was. We write music for ourselves, which is the way it should be. It will be 12-13 new songs by Alice In Chains. You'll definitely know it's us.
RB: Will Dave Jerden be producing again?
RB: Wen does the actual recording of the album start?
JC: Next February.
RB: Wait a minute. You tour until January, take a short break and then start recording in February?
RB: That's a long schedule.
JC: No shit.
God, I never learn.