Alice in Chains’ William DuVall: Layne Staley’s Family Support ‘Means a Great Deal’
It's never easy being the new guy in an already established band; replacing a singer is also a difficult proposition. But William DuVall has done a great job of fronting Alice in Chains after the death of the iconic vocalist Layne Staley. Loudwire Nights host Toni Gonzalez recently had a chance to speak with DuVall and he reflected on what it's meant to receive such great support since joining the band, from the fans, and also from Staley's own family.
Recently, Phil Staley, Layne's father, was quoted as saying, "William has done a wonderful job and I couldn't be prouder that the group is still carrying on. I love all those guys, love them. I still run texts with Jerry [Cantrell] and Sean [Kinney] on the road, so we’ve been close. We are family."
When asked about the nod of support, DuVall told Gonzalez, "It means a great deal. Both Phil and Layne's mom, they've always been very kind and I appreciate it so very much. It's really great."
DuVall has generally received a positive response, even taking a moment to enjoy a recent crowd singing "Happy Birthday" back to him at a show. "That's such an unbelievably beautiful feeling ... All you can do in the moment is kind of be in the moment, so you're not really thinking about how profound this is," says the singer.
DuVall also discussed the band's moving tribute to the late Chris Cornell during the Rock on the Range festival earlier this year. The group performed the tracks "Hunted Down" and "Boot Camp," two songs that coincidentally bookend the first era of Soundgarden's career.
DuVall insists that it was pure coincidence that they chose the first song off Soundgarden's first album and the last song from Down on the Upside, the band's final disc before they split in the mid-90s.
"It's interesting that it worked out that way, that those two songs ended up being bookends for the first long chapter of their career. That was not intentional, believe it or not. After that fact, it was like, 'Whoa, that's really cool.'"
The singer-guitarist revealed, "The way it really developed is we wanted to do something and we didn't really want to talk about it publicly. We just wanted to do it and let it speak for itself. Sean Kinney and I really wanted to do 'Boot Camp,' cause I always really liked that song and he always really liked that song. It might be my favorite on the Down on the Upside record. So it started from there and it became, 'Can we work up that song?'"
He added, "Cantrell really wanted to do 'Hunted Down.' For one, he already knew it so it negated the need to sit down and learn something in the middle of a tour that's happening, and also because it's a jam. We've always loved it, I've always loved it, and they used to do it way back in the day. In the early club days of Alice, they would sometimes break out that song and jam it ... so it made sense from all of those standpoints to do that song."
According to DuVall, the band had been contemplating the idea for weeks, but first had to figure out how to work up "Boot Camp." "Cornell would kind of write and tune the guitar to what he wanted to sing. That's how you get into these alternative tunings from Soundgarden that make no sense outside of that particular song in a lot of cases. They were kind of a little bit taking a page from the Sonic Youth manual in that regard," says the singer. "In my case, I'm looking at a YouTube video going, 'Jeez, this is going to have to be an adaptation.' In the spirit of Cornell and what he was doing in the first place, I'm now going to have to adapt this song to our circumstances."
Alice in Chains just released their new album, Rainier Fog, and have dates booked into the fall in support of the disc. See where they're playing here.
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