ALICE IN CHAINS' WILLIAM DUVALL Reflects On Premature Deaths Of CHRIS CORNELL And LAYNE STALEY: 'Fame Is Tough'

June 4, 2022

In a new interview with Riff X 's "Metal XS", ALICE IN CHAINS frontman William DuVall reflected on the list of estimable Seattle singers who have died prematurely in recent decades, including SOUNDGARDEN's Chris Cornell, whose 2017 death was ruled a suicide by hanging; NIRVANA's Kurt Cobain, who committed suicide in 1994; ALICE IN CHAINS' Layne Staley, who died of drug abuse in 2002; and MOTHER LOVE BONE's Andrew Wood, who overdosed in 1990.

"Fame is tough," William said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "It can take a toll on anyone, no matter how strong you might be, in some ways. It's very taxing. Certainly a high price to pay for a massive gift that I think those bands cumulatively gave to rock culture. It's very sad.

"You deal with whatever you're dealing with as far as your public persona, but then you also are just a person underneath that," he continued. "That's where it gets challenging, because negotiating all of that… The extremes can be really jarring, between what you're dealing with out in the world and what you're dealing with in private; those extremes can be very jarring."

Back in 2018, DuVall spoke to NME about ALICE IN CHAINS' decision to mark the first anniversary of Cornell's passing by covering SOUNDGARDEN's "Hunted Down" and "Boot Camp" 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 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.

Prior to joining ALICE IN CHAINS in 2006, DuVall was a member of punk rock bands AWARENESS VOID OF CHAOS, NEON CHRIST, BL'AST! and FINAL OFFERING. DuVall's long musical history also includes COMES WITH THE FALL and Cantrell's solo work.

Cantrell befriended the members of COMES WITH THE FALL in the early 2000s, playing shows with the band on the West Coast, then enlisting the musicians to tour with him as both opening act and backing group in support of his album "Degradation Trip".

DuVall appears on the last three ALICE IN CHAINS albums: 2009's "Black Gives Way To Blue", 2013's "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" and 2018's "Rainier Fog".

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