ALICE IN CHAINS Frontman Says Paying Tribute To CHRIS CORNELL At ROCK ON THE RANGE Was 'A Very Moving And Poignant Experience'
July 31, 2018
ALICE IN CHAINS frontman William DuVall spoke to NME about his band's decision to mark the first anniversary of Chris Cornell's passing by covering SOUNDGARDEN's "Hunted Down" and "Boot Camp" this past May at the Rock On The Range festival in Columbus, Ohio. "That was a very moving and poignant experience," he said. "We didn't say much about it beforehand, and we didn't say much about it afterward, because we thought the music said enough.
"I wanted to do 'Boot Camp', because that was my favorite song on [SOUNDGARDEN's 1996 album] 'Down On The Upside', so I went and learned it, but the thing with Chris is, he would tune the guitar to his voice, so it's kinda complicated to learn from following YouTube," he explained. "In the end, and in the spirit of Chris, I just made up my own version and we practiced it in a hotel room in Chicago. [ALICE IN CHAINS guitarist/vocalist Jerry] Cantrell wanted to do 'Hunted Down', because he already knew it and it's a rad song. But what I really liked about it is it ended up being these really nice bookends to the first song on the first SOUNDGARDEN EP [1987's 'Screaming Life'], and the last song on the last record SOUNDGARDEN made during their first phase."
A couple of weeks after the SOUNDGARDEN frontman's suicide, Cantrell told Rolling Stone magazine that Cornell was "the last guy in the world I thought that would happen to. That's not the way that book was supposed to end. And it was not the way that book was going."
Cantrell, whose band lost its original singer, Layne Staley, to a drug overdose in 2002, said that Cornell, represented "a strong strain running through [Seattle] — he was always so honest, from the moment I met him. I share a lot of the issues Chris communicated" in his songwriting. "And there's a power in sharing your weakness with the people who need to hear that, so they can consider, 'Fuck, that guy's dealing with it.' You don't feel so alone."
Cornell "always had it, the same thing as when I saw Layne for the first time — the commitment to take that ride," Cantrell added. "There was something that I recognized and aspired to — to have your own voice and sound. Nobody else sounds like that guy. Nobody will.
"There is a space now and forever empty because of that," Cantrell said of Cornell's death. "It's never going to make sense. It's never going to feel right. And it's always going to hurt."
Cornell died on May 18, 2017 at the age of 52. The legendary musician was in Detroit where he had performed with SOUNDGARDEN at the Fox Theatre earlier in the evening.