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By Hein Kaiser


EXCLUSIVE: Rock isn’t dead and will never die, says Alice in Chains frontman Jerry Cantrell

As a member of Alice in Chains, Cantrell received nine Grammy nominations and has been named as one of the best guitar players of all time.

Rock and roll was never intended to be mainstream, said Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell. Decades of naysayers have got it wrong – Rock isn’t dead and it will never die.

Cantrell was part of a wave of Seattle bands which drove change, created a new movement, and took centre stage in early Nineties history.

Grunge’s driving and moody riffs remain a major influence in music today and symbolised a new generation of social rebellion in its time.

Grunge was the confluence of a thriving artistic community in the Pacific Northwest that, said Cantrell, was somewhat more isolated from the major music scenes in Los Angeles and New York.

This, he said, allowed Grunge to be shaped and spread its influence outward. He adds:

Grunge was cultivated over years in the Seattle creative community, it was being nurtured on a local level until it hit a fever pitch, at which point it broke out and became part of a larger community of music that seemed to be yearning for change at the time.”

It’s not something that was ever really planned, but it was amazing to be part of that wave.|

As a member of Alice in Chains, he received nine Grammy nominations and been named as one of the best guitar players of all time by Guitar World Magazine.

In metal circles, he’s known as the ‘Riff Lord’.

Cantrell is presently on tour after the release of his third solo album ‘Brighten’ in October last year. He said:

“We’ve just completed our first six weeks and will continue touring until next month when we launch the European leg of the tour.”

On his return in October, Cantrell will join up with Alice in Chains and Bush to tour until next year, after which he resumes Brighten gigs.

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He added: “In total, I will spend about a year and a half on the road. It took me roughly the same amount of time to record the album.”

He said most of his music works in this three-year cycle.

Over the years, Cantrell performed and collaborated with some of music’s greatest artists.

“There’s a ton of them, and for me, it was really great being able to work with people who I was already a fan of for years.”

A standout for him was working on a few songs with Ozzy Osbourne.

In his view, Black Sabbath was a cornerstone band of rock and roll, and he says Ozzy and Sabbath were a significant influence on the artist he has become.

Other bands he worked with include Heart, Pearl Jam, The Cult, Stone Temple Pilots, and Pantera.

More of his most memorable moments include performing For Whom The Bell Tolls with Metallica, gigging with Aerosmith, and working with his friend, Guns and Roses guitarist Duff McKagan, who also appears on Brighten.

Cantrell has also written several movie soundtracks including The Cable Guy and John Wick, and cameoed on-screen in Jerry McGuire and Deadwood.

Recently guitar maker Epiphone released two custom Les Paul guitars with Cantrell.

The Jerry Cantrell ‘Wino’ Les Paul Custom and the Les Paul Custom Prophecy electric guitars were inspired by Cantrell’s own custom Les Paul.

He personally supervised its design and added personal touches.

Cantrell has played Gibsons throughout his career. He shared the journey: “What was first a professional relationship with Gibson and Epiphone brand president Cesar Gueikian became a firm friendship.

“We started talking about me coming over to the Gibson family and to design some guitars. And I just like the energy that Cesar had and the direction he was leading in.”

“So, it became a ‘yes’ from me.”

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