Steven Rosen of Ultimate-Guitar.com recently conducted an interview with ALICE IN CHAINS guitarist Jerry Cantrell. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: What did you learn from making the “Black Gives Way To Blue” record that you used in making “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here”?
Jerry Cantrell: All of the records are connected, obviously, but they’re all very different. They’re all separated by a period of time and the record ends up kinda being like a time capsule of that particular period of time in your life. You know, “This is where you’re at. This is what you sound like now. This is what you’ve come up with this time.”
Ultimate-Guitar.com: What is the creative process?
Jerry Cantrell: The processes were fairly much the same and they haven’t really changed in how the band works musically. We wait until we spend the time to work up some stuff and get a body of material together and then we start workin’ on it. When we all feel excited about what we have, we decide to go in and make a record. It’s been a little chunk of time but it takes what it takes. We’re not on schedule and we’re not churning shit out. We make new music when we feel like making it and we take the time it takes to make music of the quality we want to make.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Does that creative process include you collecting riffs and putting together demos?
Jerry Cantrell: It happens how it happens. Sometimes we’ll come up with songs when we’re jammin’ in a room and sometimes it’s you alone at home kinda workin’ on an idea. Then you send it around to the guys and see what they think of it. They might add something to it or might be good enough the way it is. As far as arrangement, anytime anybody plays on it, they’re gonna put their thing to it anyway. It doesn’t matter if I don’t write a song, when I play on it I’m gonna put my thing to it just like Sean, Mike or William will. You know what I mean? Generally that’s what it is.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: So inspiration can come from anywhere?
Jerry Cantrell: You have moments where you’ll pick up a guitar and have an idea in your head and you’ll just grab the first thing that you can. Whether it’s your computer, your phone or a tape recorder or whatever to get the idea down before it’s gone. I’ve pretty much operated that way from the get go. The majority of those things are things worth remembering but some of them are not. [laughs] After that tour (2009), I would say a good majority of what ended up being on and turning into songs on “Black Gives Way To Blue” is from dressing rooms and soundchecks. Time alone with your guitar and recording an idea or putting ideas down on your Pro Tools in your room. At some point you have a bunch of shit and then you start sending it around and seeing what people are reacting to. You start listening to what everybody else is sending around and you put that all together and you make a record out of it.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: You’re working once again with producer Nick Raskulinecz. What does he bring to your music?
Jerry Cantrell: All he wants is the best he can get out of you. He wants the best song possible; he wants your best performance possible and not in a demanding way. He’s like your fuckin’ best friend. He’s like the kid you smoked pot with and listened to BLACK SABBATH and PINK FLOYD with for the first time. Fuckin’ playing RUSH records and learning riffs and stuff — that’s Nick. He’s just like us and he loves music in that way. He gets so fuckin’ into it and so excited about it that his energy is infectious.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Where did the album title come from?
Jerry Cantrell: It’s a song; we came up with the song first and we started thinking about what to call the record. It was just an oddball, cool title. I can guarantee you nobody else has ever called a record this.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: What does it mean to you?
Jerry Cantrell: If you’ve read the lyrics, I think you can pretty much can understand what I’m trying to there. There’s a lot of fear, a lot of hate, a lot of ignorance and prejudice, there’s a lot of shit that goes on in the name of a belief. If your belief is teaching you it’s OK to kill somebody else because they believe something different than you or to discriminate because somebody is different than you or has a different belief system or being that fuckin’ righteous that you’ve got the right idea and 80% of the other fuckin’ people on the planet who believe something else are wrong. It’s a take on that. It’s just kinda that shit drives me crazy and just how bad we are to each other in the name of a belief. There’s room for everybody and I’m not necessarily putting down faith in that particular song. The main line of the chorus is, “No problem with faith, just fear.” I’ve got a problem with fuckin’ violence or fear or control or prejudice. That’s the shit I have a problem with. I have no problem anybody believing what you want to believe. You should be able to believe whatever you want to believe. You shouldn’t have to pay a fuckin’ consequence because of your belief or enforce it on somebody else either.
Read the entire interview from Ultimate-Guitar.com.