Jerry Cantrell Recalls The ‘Dark Journey’ He Had After Layne Staley’s Passing

Alice In Chains’ founder and guitarist Jerry Cantrell recently talked about the first solo album he released after Layne Staley passed away in 2002. He opened up about how the album was a dark journey for him during a challenging period in his life.

‘Degradation Trip’ was released during a tough time for Cantrell as two months prior, Alice In Chains frontman Layne Staley had tragically passed away. Staley’s body was found in his apartment two weeks after his death and weighed only 39kg. His death was ruled out as an accidental overdose of a mixture of drugs.

Although it was widely known that Layne Staley struggled with depression and substance addiction, his death was still unexpected and affected his fans, family, and bandmates, who couldn’t get over losing him. After the unfortunate incident, Cantrell decided to focus on music and released ‘Degradation Trip,’ which was dedicated to Staley.

In his recent interview, he stated that the whole album was a dark journey and admitted he was not sober back then. He continued to note that he chose ‘Psychotic Break’ as the lead song in the album since ‘you get that real sense of dread’ as soon as the song starts playing. Furthermore, the musician revealed that the gloominess of the track represents the entire album perfectly.

Here is what Cantrell said about ‘Degradation Trip‘:

“This whole record was a dark journey. I wrote it all a year or two before I got sober. I think that’s why we had to go with ‘Psychotic Break’ to start it – that song is just so doomy! You get that real sense of dread as soon as it starts, right from the first note and as the chanting comes in. I’ll always remember playing the whole record to Dimebag Darrell, ‘Psychotic Break’ was his favorite tune by far.”

The album was released in 2002 after Alice in Chains had disbanded. Cantrell established the continuity of his solo career with this album and received a lot of positive feedback. ‘Degradation Trip’ was released in two volumes with five months in between the two releases, and Rolling Stone named it one of the greatest albums of all time and ranked it No. 20 out of 50 albums.