ALICE IN CHAINS' JERRY CANTRELL Reflects On Rise Of Grunge: 'We Were Aware That Something Was Happening In Our Town'
November 4, 2021
In a new interview with E. Curtis Johnson of the 105.1 The Blaze radio station, Jerry Cantrell reflected on ALICE IN CHAINS' rise to international fame as part of the grunge movement of the early 1990s, along with other Seattle bands such as NIRVANA, PEARL JAM and SOUNDGARDEN. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "We were aware that something was happening in our town that we all sprung from, from various directions — north, east, south and west, around Seattle. You could feel that there was something happening, and it was a little different and it was a little grittier and it was a little bit more raw than what was going on at the time. But we were also aware of a lot of bands that were making kind of a new sound as well. I remember seeing FAITH NO MORE come through the Central Tavern and seeing JANE'S ADDICTION at the Moore Theatre and GUNS N' ROSES, of course, and NINE INCH NAILS 'Head Like A Hole' on MTV. There was something happening collectively across the world, and we had our little bubble of it, and we wanted to be a part of that. It wasn't some sort of a planned event or anything like that, but I think we were all on a similar wavelength. And music is always changing — the world is always changing and music is too, and it was pretty wild to be part of one of those changes."
Five years ago, Cantrell told the "Jonesy's Jukebox" radio show SOUNDGARDEN was the group that gave the grunge movement its momentum to become something much bigger. "The first band that started it all, as far as like the rest of the world kind of getting opened up to it, is SOUNDGARDEN, absolutely," he said. "SOUNDGARDEN got signed to A&M [in 1988]. That was the first major-label signing, and they put out a record. And MOTHER LOVE BONE was second, on Polygram, I believe. And, unfortunately, [MOTHER LOVE BONE frontman] Andy [Wood] passed away right as that record came out. And we were the third major band signed to Columbia, and our records kind of came out in quick succession. NIRVANA and PEARL JAM came after."
He continued: "It was all happening. All of these bands were making great music. It was so cool, because it was just our thing, man, and we weren't trying to impress anybody other than the people in our town. That was pretty much the scope of our goals, you know — to be able to sell out the Central Tavern and to play the local bar that everybody played. Meeting each other and hanging out with each other and going to each other’s shows… it was a really cool and supportive thing. Nobody was trying to be like you; they were just trying to be like them. That's what you respected about them and that's also what made you want to do your own thing as well. I think that's why all of the bands that came out during that particular time, including MUDHONEY and the SCREAMING TREES, and a few others out of that time, not one band sounds like the other."
ALICE IN CHAINS released three albums with singer Layne Staley, who died of a drug overdose, before the surviving members — Cantrell, bassist Mike Inez and drummer Sean Kinney — brought guitarist William DuVall onboard in 2006. After that, they issued three well-received albums: the 2009 Grammy-nominated "Black Gives Way Too Blue", 2013's "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" and 2018's "Rainier Fog".
Cantrell's new solo album, "Brighten", was made available on October 29.