Jerry Cantrell Talks Music Piracy: 'I'm From a Different Era, I Just Haven't Gotten Used to It'

Alice in Chains guitarist discusses why the band refuses to play any unleaked new songs.

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Alice in Chains guitar mastermind Jerry Cantrell recently discussed his reasons for choosing not to perform most of the new songs live, naming the lack of control the band has over their own music as one of the top reasons.

However, since the group's upcoming record "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" will officially drop as early as tomorrow (May 28), Cantrell admitted that the band is considering to add another new track to the concert setlist.

"Well, in the old days - if you start out with 'in the old days,' you're totally an old f--k - you were able to play a lot more stuff live," Cantrell tells Spin magazine. "But with the advent of the Internet and sharing and shit going everywhere, you can't do that anymore. We really haven't been playing anything off the new record that's not out yet. We've been playing 'Hollow' and 'Stone,' and now that it's going to be released, we're thinking about whipping out 'Phantom Limb' and maybe a few more."

Apart from reminiscing the old days, guitarist also pointed out sound quality as one of the reasons behind such an approach, saying, "We used to play new stuff all of the time. When we were touring 'Facelift,' we probably played half of 'Dirt' on the end of that tour. It's a cool thing to be able to do, but you hardly have any control over your own music. We'd rather wait until you get the best quality version of what we created before you start getting shitty iPhone versions from crappy gigs."

In Cantrells own words, "you always have to protect your stuff," seeing that if the new material leeks, it spreads around the world in a matter of days, if not hours.

"Early on, with the demos for 'Facelift,' before it even came out, we were hanging out with the Pantera guys, and Phil Anselmo talked me into giving him a copy back in '89," said the guitarist. "He started passing copies around to bands and sh-t, and then [then-Columbia president] Don Ienner got in my ass for that. It didn't go that far, though, just to a few bands.

"If that happens today, it goes everywhere. If somebody turned you on to something back when I was coming up, it was that much more special: 'Nobody's heard this yet. Check this out.' I'm from a different era, and I just haven't gotten used to it. I don't necessarily think it's a healthier situation for music or for people who enjoy music."

In a separate interview with Clash Music, Cantrell pointed out that just the fact that Alice in Chains is still one of the biggest rock bands is what means to him the most, commenting, "I can play in front of people, thousands of people, every night, and right now that is all I give a f--k about."

"Even at the beginning, people would tell me that I couldn't do something. But I'm the kind of guy who said back to them, 'F--k you, I can.'"

As previously mentioned, the upcoming Alice in Chains record, "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here," is set for tomorrow's (May 28) release via Virgin/EMI Records. As the group's fifth studio album, it will be the second one to feature singer William DuVall.

23 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Despite saying he doesn't know much about it, he seems to understand it much better than most other musicians, and he also has a much more mature approach to it... Respect.
    Alice in Chains is ****ing great. I just hope the new album have more William, because I really love his voice. And I just hope it doesn't become to much Jerrys solo (Not that it's bad).
    Picked up the new album on the weekend. One of the advantages of living on the other side of the world we seem to get albums a few days early. I like it - a lot. It's only been a couple of listens but it is really dark, heavy and ominous and those Alice harmonies are much more prominent than on BGWTB. It's like 1992 again!!
    Word of advice: don't even try. If you play the song live, it's heard. So what are you trying to protect? Maybe filesharing is relatively new compared to the age of AiC, but bootlegging has been around for far, far longer. So you have no excuse. It's the nature of fans to want to hear everything. Whether it's an album track or some obscure, unreleased recording. And they're going to share that with other fans. The medium of how they'll share has changed, but that nature was always the same. Don't get into that mindset that you need to keep a reign on everything. That's the mistake too many musicians make, and it puts them on the wrong side of the relationship with their audience. Just go play like you always did, and make your living from it. People who care will support you no matter what.
    Not gonna lie, I pirated the album, but that doesn't mean I'm not buying the album in the morning. It is f!!cking amazing and I will pay every penny for it. The harmonies are more common than in the last album. I honestly think this is the best album they've made since Jar of Flies.
    Jerry Cantrell is one of the most down to earth rockstars to speak his mind in public recently.
    Lovin all of the AiC related stuff in the news section, but I want to read a review from you guys. I bought and really enjoy the album but I love reading others opinions on stuff
    I get to go meet them at an album signing in Lynnwood tomorrow, when I get the new album. Meet the guys, get a signed copy of TDPDH. Good day tomorrow.
    The new album has been leaked for a week unfortunately or fortunately. Whichever you prefer.
    New songs aside, I wish they would change thier setlist and add a few gems here and there. They've been playing pretty much the same setlist since 2006 :/