Alice In Chains’ Condition For William DuVall To Replace Layne Staley
As one of the first superstars of grunge, Alice In Chains instantly gained success with their debut album, ‘Facelift,’ released on August 21, 1990. It was followed by two more influential albums, but the rumors concerning their drug abuse which started circulating around this period, interrupted the band’s ongoing rise in the music scene.
The band’s iconic singer Layne Staley struggled with his drug abuse problem for a long time, which forced the band to go on hiatus in 1996. Staley was unable to continue performing with Alice In Chains, and his battle with drug addiction got more challenging day by day. Unfortunately, Layne Staley was found dead on April 19, 2002, and his cause of death was announced as a drug overdose.
After Staley’s tragic death, carrying on without him was pretty difficult for the remaining Alice In Chains members. They stayed silent for a while but then decided to continue and began looking for a new singer to replace Layne Staley. Finally, as William DuVall’s vocal style had heavily influenced them, they hired him in 2006 as their lead singer.
Alice In Chains Wanted William DuVall Just To Be Himself
Before joining the band, William DuVall had already met Jerry Cantrell through a mutual acquaintance. Later on, they started to hang out together, and Cantrell also occasionally performed with DuVall’s band Comes With The Fall. Cantrell asked them to join his tour to support his second solo album, and while they were touring, they received the news of Layne Staley’s death.
William DuVall made his first public appearance with Alice In Chains in the band’s reunion concerts in 2006. Only one audition was enough for DuVall to be chosen as the lead singer. DuVall was no stranger to the band as he was a fan and had previously sung Staley’s parts in his concerts with Jerry Cantrell.
However, no matter what, replacing a super talented name like Layne Staley was a big challenge for DuVall. It took him a certain amount of time to be accepted by the band’s devoted fans. In a previous interview with SoundLounge, Jerry Cantrell was asked about this challenging process and said they’ve had excellent chemistry since their first performance with DuVall.
Cantrell stated they just tried to remain true to their essence and keep going like that. He also added that they didn’t want to find someone to replace Layne Staley and act exactly like him. Cantrell explained that he already knew DuVall and told him to just be himself rather than emulating Staley. Jerry highlighted that Alice In Chains was always better with two vocals supporting each other, so they worked well with DuVall.
Jerry Cantrell speaking on his advice to DuVall:
“The way we have always gone about things before Will got here and since he’s been here has been really organic. We’ve just kind of followed our own thing and done things that felt right for our own reasons. We’ve been really lucky to have a really long career doing that. There is no replacing, Layne, so we weren’t asking Will to come in and try to be Layne; we wanted him to be himself.
Will and I had already spent time together, and we’d played the stuff. And Alice In Chains has always been a two-pilot aircraft to fly vocally; that’s just the way it had to work. We always had real chemistry that way, every record that we’ve done, we’ve tried to be really interchangeable because it takes two pilots to fly the plane.”
William DuVall contributed to the band’s following three albums, and he is still performing with them. It seems like DuVall has been a good match with Alice In Chains, although it was really hard to fill Staley’s gap.