ALICE IN CHAINS' JERRY CANTRELL: Coming Up With New Material Is 'Always Hard'
October 26, 2021
In a new interview with Australia's Heavy, ALICE IN CHAINS co-founder Jerry Cantrell, who is promoting the upcoming release of his solo album "Brighten", was asked if songwriting gets easier or harder over time. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I think it's always hard. Some things [come relatively easy] — it's really rare, actually, and it happens. There's a couple of records on this record that are like that, and you'll have a few of those per project that happen pretty quickly and really spontaneously. Most of the time, it's a grind, and it's a grind with looking at an abyss, like, 'What the hell am I gonna come up with now?' [Laughs] And that's kind of the challenge. I think that's what I like about it — because you're not sure if you can pull it off again. It's just a very human look at it.
"I've always operated, and the guys in ALICE have always kind of come at it in a way, and I think it's a really healthy way, and we've heard this expressed by other artists, and we've taken that leap: you cannot rely on previous success; you cannot re-write a song or re-write a record," he continued. "So it is done. So every time you start, it's gotta be from an absolute zero. You have to trust in the fact that you're gonna be you and you're gonna come through, and if you're lucky enough to have some sort of identifiable sound that people have enjoyed in the past, you can trust in the fact that that's gonna be there. So what it really comes down to is what it's always been about for us, which is pleasing ourselves — like, is this something we're excited about? Are we making something that if we weren't in this band we would listen to and go, 'That's fucking good.' That's who we're trying to please. Obviously, we want people to listen to it and want it to connect to a larger audience than just ourselves. But it's gotta start there first; it's gotta cross that bridge before it gets to anybody else."
"Brighten" will be made available on October 29. The LP was co-produced by Jerry over the past year with film composer Tyler Bates and Cantrell's longtime engineer Paul Figueroa. They welcomed a dynamic cast of supporting players, including drummers Gil Sharone and Abe Laboriel, Jr. (Paul McCartney),pedal steel master Michael Rozon, Vincent Jones on piano, Wurlitzer, and organ. Other rock legends added to the fun of this LP, including Duff McKagan (GUNS N' ROSES) on select bass tracks, Greg Puciato (THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN) handling all of the background vocals and Joe Barresi (TOOL, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE) overseeing the mixing of "Brighten". Together, they recorded eight originals and the LP closes with an approved-by-Elton John cover of his classic "Goodbye" as the finale.
Jerry recently told Kerrang! magazine that "Brighten" contains "a lot of influence from the stuff I grew up listening to, like classic rock and singer-songwriter stuff of the '60s, '70s and even some of the '80s. I also used a lot of voices and instruments that I don't traditionally use in a heavy way and it's really fucking cool," he said.