Jerry Cantrell Compares Alice in Chains Singers: 'Layne and William Are Similar'

Guitarist talks about two vocalists, Snooki and musical business.

Ultimate Guitar

Alice in Chains guitar mastermind Jerry Cantrell recently gave several interesting interviews, covering subjects ranging from the band's new singer William DuVall to Snooki.

In a chat with the Electronic Musician magazine, the guitarist compared late Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley with the group's current singer William DuVall, noting multiple similarities between the two.

"I didn't have a lot of confidence as a singer," Cantrell continues. "But Layne pushed me to sing my own sh-t. I was unsure, especially standing next to a guy like Layne, who had an amazing voice, was super talented and so quick. He was a natural. I'm not. But with Layne pushing me, my confidence grew. William is real challenging, too - a natural like Layne was. The way we work together is very similar. The sound and style of the band is intact because of Sean, Mike, and myself, and what William brings to the band. That's how we are able to continue and be ourselves.

"William is a high-speed dragster - he's nitro," Cantrell adds. "I'm more like a Chevy truck. I kind of just plod along. But my good old Chevy truck will last a long time. William gets up there, and gets gas behind it. I don't have that sort of range, I am a medium to low plodder. That's how we differ in styles. Layne and William are similar. Layne had gas and he could hit that nitro button and go to the next level with some teeth on it."

In another interview with the Classic Rock Magazine, the entire band got into a discussion about the current state of music industry, expressing their discontent with the latest trend of overusing the Internet and social media.

Illegal downloads are also something the band seems to highly disapprove, with Cantrell saying that such acts devalue music in general.

"I don't like a whole lot of it, no. I think the thing that's most disappointing to me is that now, what you do is worth less than nothing. It's been reduced to a game show.

"And somehow, something you've worked on and poured your soul into, and invested your money in, somehow it's no longer deemed valuable. That's f--ked up, to me. I can't go to the gas station and take the gas for free I'd go to jail. But somehow it's okay to take my thing for free.

Bassist Mike Inez then joined the discussion, expressing his not so optimistic views regarding the music industry. According to Inez, music business has become a hopeless cause, giving new artists basically zero chances for success.

"It really sucks, because there's probably a 12-year-old kid out there who could be the next Kurt Cobain, but he's never going to get the chance to be heard because there's no future or money in making music anymore, I'm worried about the next generation. Where's the art gonna come from?"

"There used to be a mystique about rock bands," drummer Sean Kinney chipped in, "but now it's like, 'Follow me on Twitter!' I don't wanna know what f--kin' sandwich you ate at the airport, man. Because we're just people. Our job isn't all that more interesting than anybody else's."

"We went to the Grammys last year because we were nominated for a couple," Cantrell recalls. "We're f--kin' doing the press line, and they're shuffling us down the line, five minutes with these people, and they have no idea who we are, then it's some morning show, they don't give a f--k, and MTV wants to interview us...

"So we turn around and it's f--kin' Snooki. Snooki is going to f--king interview us. And she's going: 'I don't know who they are. Who are they?' And this is Music Television?"

"We just walked away."

The new Alice in Chains record, "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here," is ready to hit the stores on May 28 via Virgin/EMI Records. The album was already announced with two video singles, "Hollow" and "Stone."

60 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I know a lot of people don't like Duvall, but I think he's doing a fine job fronting them. He is jut as good at harmonizing with Jerry as Layne was. Layne's voice was so unique but William has the range to sing the songs quite well. RIP Layne.
    After watching the clips from Kimmel's show, that's what jumped out to me, their voices work perfectly together
    I thought the picture was Vince Neil after losing some weight. Accept my apology
    F*ck Snooki
    Of course Snooki doesn't know who AiC are...personally I would call that a good thing, I wouldn't want her near my band or it's image.
    They should have done the interview, and really f**ked around with the answers. Introduce themselves as Metallica, individually as Billy Corgan, Eddie Vedder, Dave Mustaine and Kim Thayil, answered every question with a metaphor about pizza... I don't know, SOMEthing ridiculous like that.
    "I don't wanna know what f*ckin sandwich you ate at the airport, man." Right on, Kinney! Exactly how I feel about Twitter.
    Misleading title as usual. Mtv should seriously consider changing their name (sigh!) I won't even bother. All this Alice in Chains and Dave Grohl stuff makes me think that apart from awesome music we really owe grunge a lot when it comes to work ethics and talking music seriously.
    Just came from the first concert of the new tour in Miami, sound freakin awesome, go see them live.
    im not mental
    I just like how William isn't trying to be like Layne. He's making Alice in Chains evolve instead of trying to make an imitation product. also, is snooki still relevant? you'd think he would be talking about Ryan Lochte now.
    Dear God, I don't wanna live in a world we're no one has heard or can't remember thee all mighty chains...but then again the grammys, mtv, snooki...I mean that all crap anyway.
    jerry is the second voice and the force behind the band. Lane is great and he always will be but William also has a good voice and let's face it without Jerry's voice Alice in Chains would not still sound the same.
    That part about the Grammys is ridiculous, but thats what happens when a real band goes to the Grammys these days.
    Definitely PURCHASING their new album. Love chains and support everything they do, but they're absolutely right about the industry. There's no money to be made anymore. I think that's a big reason why this whole dubstep thing is taking off...those artists can promote themselves so much easier.
    I think there is still money to be made in music however I don't think there is money to be made in record labels. The reason record labels became so successful is because they had the money to put you in a studio. Now its perfectly viable not to go to a studio because the equipment is affordable enough for you to have in your home. Keith Merrow and Ola Englund are perfect exapmles of this:
    Duvall has a pretty good voice, he just doesn't get many opportunities to belt it out. Check out the live performances of Right Turn and I Can't Remember, he sounds great on those. Vocals aside, I really like his songwriting abd guitar contributions, Last of my kind and Phantom limb from the new album sound awesome, and apparently he plays the solo on the latter I don't understand why some continue to compare Layne who was in his 20's when he was in his prime, to Duvall who is in his 40's. If Layne was still alive, I doubt his voice would sound as great, look what happened to Chris Cornell!
    Yeah, totally! If you watch videos of Layne on the last AIC tour you can tell his voice is having problems. Seems like he has trouble with the real big notes in the places you would expect, like the chorus to Man in the Box. Also, as awesome as the Self Titled, Died, and Get Born Again are, Layne's definitely not utilizing his Facelift vocal range on them. It probably stems from his personal issues affecting his practice routine/health (or something along those lines) so who knows what could have happened had he gotten clean. However, as it is, William sure can hit the f*** out of any note in the AIC catalogue, and it's pretty cool to hear. I still prefer the creepy tone of Layne's voice, but Will is awesome.
    I think Cornell's voice is still great! For a while there in Audioslave it sounded like it was failing him, but I heard he quit smoking & drinking and I think that turned it around. The new album is amazing.
    From the article summary: "Guitarist talks about two vocalists, Snooki and musical business. " So....when does this Alice in Chains musical hit Broadway?
    So basically, Layne Staley > William Duvall. It ain't no AIC without the voice that defined them. RIP Layne Staley, got to "the next level with some teeth on it."
    I agree with Jerry 100% on the current state of the music market. Nowadays, anyone can go download a YouTube converter and snatch songs off of it rather quickly. No one wants to pay for music anymore. I propose that if you're going to steal music, you help fund the band's tours, albums, collabs, gear, etc. Then you can have all of that band's music. Of course, that's about as likely to happen as starting a fire underwater. In the Arctic ocean. While fighting a kraken. Let's face it. Musicians are doomed.
    Your right and its pretty depressing...I have a 12 year old daughter and the shit her and her friends listen to and like is just sad. The boys too (if you can call them that) listen to horrible computer rap too. I'm not saying that because I miss the good ol days either...this generation will never "get it" when it comes to appreciating music when the only hope to make a living at it is by appearing on a reality/talent show
    iThere are so many terrible arguments in this thread that it's hard to know where to start.... As someone who downloads a metric **** ton of music ILLEGALLY, I guarantee you I 'support music' more than the majority of people in this thread by sheer numbers alone. I spend the majority of my income going to shows, buying/maintaining gear, buying merch, i.e SUPPORTING the bands I enjoy. This isn't a pissing contest, but I'm sick of people acting like all pirates are entitled cheapskates. Get off your high horses people, you're the ones asking why an ARTIST should have the motivation to create art. Buying CDs is such a tiny fraction of artist income, and as much as I love Alice in Chains and wish things wouldn't change, people's listening habits and how art is consumed can and will always change. People base all their nostalgia on an outdated business model created in the 20th century to exploit artists for commercial gain. Unless you're the kind of person who only buys direct and is absolutely sure where their money goes, buying the occasional CD doesn't mean you're not a hypocrite. Your money isn't going to that artist, not at AiC's level it's not.
    There are so many terrible arguments in your post that it's hard to know where to start.... As someone who buys a sizeable amount of cd's, vinyl and LEGAL downloads, I guarantee you is support music more than you do. I spend a sizeable amount of my income going to shows, buying music legally, buying merch, I.e. supporting the bands I enjoy. I'm sick of people trying to justify illegal downloads by using some twisted logic trying to justify their behaviour. Buying CD's used to be a major portion of an artist's income. Although the way we consume our art has changed, it is still a CONSUMER PRODUCT and as long as it has a price tag on it, you are expected to pay. Otherwise it is just plain stealing. In the 20th century a business model was crested to ship physical copies of the artist's music to the masses. As soon as a significant portion of an artists income is derived from the turnaround of digital media, this business model may become outdated and redundant. If you pirate and go to the occasional show/buy merch, it doesn't mean you're not a hypocrite. You are still taking away from an artists income. SEE WHAT I DID THERE!?!?!111 To summarise: if you buy the milk but steal the cereal from your local supermarket, it's not called 'supporting your local supermarket' .
    I don't see how you can justify not paying for albums by saying that you pay for concerts and merchandise. To use Jerry's analogy, that's like saying that when you go to a gas station, you pay for the car wash but take the gas for free, because hey, you're still supporting the gas station. It doesn't matter how much the artist makes from each CD they sell. When enough people aren't paying for it, that's still a considerable loss of income. It's not just the artist that loses, either - you're also stealing from the record label that's supporting the artist and all the producers and engineers involved in the making of the CD. In fact, the only ones you are actually supporting by downloading music illegally is those scumbag file hosting sites.
    Guns N' Chains
    The part of the article about the band being interviewed by MTV and the interviewer was Snooki, made me think of the Steel Panther song "Death To All But Metal", especially the bridge part.
    Oh please, I think there is a noticeable difference between a white man and a black man.
    jerry cantrell should shut his hole and go play guitar, the thing he's good at. kurt cobain didn't want to be kurt cobain and snooki is basically the same garbage.
    Where is the art gonna come from?
    Its not funny cause it is already happening. In case you haven't noticed it has been a long time since any NEW, REALLY GREAT ROCK BAND of any rock genre has come along and captured the music listening publics attention the way a Led Zeppelin, or a Rolling Stones, Beatles, etc did or even the too many to list second tier bands did....its sad....
    I'd say the problem is that too many bands have. There are more bands now than there were in the "good old days", and because of that, there are more good bands. And since they all play different styles, it's harder to only pick a handful of bands like the ones you listed. And if you think nobody's innovating nowadays, or making music worth listening to, you're not looking hard enough.
    I will admit that I do download illegal music, but as a struggling student/worker, I empathize with the musicians... I save for a whole year, and I buy two or three albums that i liked, even when probably I will not hear them since I dont have a cd player besides my laptop, but I do it to give something back. And since spotify became available on my country I'm turning more towards that approach
    Music died the day musicians only started caring about the paycheck instead of the music. Its pathetic when all these "musician" millionaires bitch about not getting paid enough for doing what most of them did at one time just for the love of music. Now it seems all everyone does is bitch about how they had to play and not get the amount of money they wanted getting stuffed into their fat bank accounts. Google "south park not a big deal video" It nails it
    Musicians can't make money anymore? Muse? Coldplay? A7X? Not huge fans of those groups, but they seem to be doing pretty well.....and they pretty much started releasing material well into the internet age.
    just saw AIC in birmingham alabama on the 30th and they were freakn awesome!!!! my favorite part was the encore...we thought the roof was gna cave in!!!! the only thing is i'm just still really iffy about william but that may be i'm a layne staley fan til death!!! he did good i think but nothing like layne by stage presence at all..all in all it was a great concert and i would definately go see them AGAIN!!!! HAHA ironically that's the song i'm listening to now!!! I LOVE ALICE IN CHAINS!!!!!
    DETECTIVE Not a big deal! You think downloading music for free is not a big deal?! Put your couts on! I'm gonna show you something! And I don't think you're gonna like it! [A mansion, somewhere, day. The agent has taken the boys for a ride and arrived here. He leads them to the main gate] DETECTIVE This is the home of Lars Ulrich, the drummer for Metallica. Look. There's Lars now, sitting by his pool. KYLE What's the matter with him? DETECTIVE This month he was hoping to have a gold-plated shark tank bar installed right next to the pool, but thanks to people downloading music for free, he must now wait a few months before he can afford it. Come. There's more. Here's Britney Spears' private jet. Notice anything? Britney used to have a Gulfstream IV. Now she's had to sell it and get a Gulfstream III because people like you chose to download music for free. The Gulfstream III doesn't even have a remote control for its surround-sound DVD system. Still think downloading music for free is no big deal? KYLE We... didn't realize what we were doing, eh... DETECTIVE That is the folly of man. Now look in this window. Here you see the loving family of Master P. Next week is his son's birthday and, all he's ever wanted was an island in French Polynesia. KYLE So, he's gonna get it, right? DETECTIVE I see an island without an owner. If things keep going the way they are, the child will not get his tropical paradise. STAN We're sorry! We'll, we'll never download music for free again! DETECTIVE Man must learn to think of these horrible outcomes before he acts selfishly or else... I fear... recording artists will be forever doomed to a life of only semi-luxury.