The Only Way Alice In Chains Could Continue Without Layne Staley According To Jerry Cantrell

Formed in 1987 by Jerry Cantrell and Sean Kinney, Alice In Chains is a rock band from Seattle, Washington. After forming the band, Cantrell and Kinney recruited the vocalist Layne Staley and bassist Mike Starr. In 1993, Mike Inez replaced Starr, while in 2006, William DuVall joined AIC as a replacement for Staley, who died in 2002.

Alice In Chains was one of the leading figures of the grunge movement in the early 1990s, along with other Seattle bands. Although the band never announced their official disbandment, they were inactive from 1996 until 2004. This was due to Staley’s drug abuse which inevitably resulted in his death in 2002.

Following Staley’s tragic death, Alice In Chains disbanded as their record company Sony BMG terminated their contract. Following that, the remaining band members focused on other projects. Alice In Chains then regrouped in 2006 with William DuVall replacing Staley as lead vocalist. According to Cantrell, there was only one way for the band to continue after Staley’s absence. Let’s learn what that condition was.

Jerry Cantrell Thought Alice In Chains Could Only Continue As A Two-Singer Band After Staley’s Death

As you know, Alice In Chains is known for their distinctive vocal style and the harmonious vocals by Staley and Cantrell. Although Cantrell mostly played the guitar, he also started singing vocals on the band’s 1992 acoustic EP ‘Sap.’ From that point on, his role as a vocalist continued to grow, and Alice In Chains became a band with two vocalists.

In a previous interview with Billboard, Jerry Cantrell talked about Alice In Chains’ approach to vocal duties considering DuVall’s arrival after Staley’s death. At one point, the host asked Cantrell what was in his mind while choosing DuVall as the vocal harmonizing is an important aspect for the band.

As a response, Cantrell said that continuing as a two-singer band was their only option to continue, as this was their established sound. Following that, Cantrell mentioned his solo performances with DuVall and said they did a great job singing together. After talking about Inez and Kinney’s importance, the musician commented on DuVall and said theirs is a pilot and co-pilot situation.

In the interview by Billboard, the host asked Jerry Cantrell:

“That seems to be one of the big appeals to this particular version of Alice in Chains – how much the vocal harmonizing is so accentuated. How important was that aspect in choosing William?”

Cantrell then responded:

It was the only way the band could have continued on. We started as and continue to evolve more into a two-singer band. Layne Staley was a classic frontman in his own right, but he gave me the confidence to start singing more myself.

I wrote a lot of this shit; I did then, and I still do now. So I carry that with me, the language that we came up with together. And I learned a lot from that. The band has a certain sound, so when we moved on we knew we weren’t going to change much.

When I met William when he did some tours with me and my solo band, we did some Alice stuff together and he always did a great job of it. Then when it comes to Mike Inez and Sean Kinney and me, that’s another reason why the band sounds so intact is the three of us are still here, too.

Those guys are really important to it as well; it gets overlooked a lot. Everybody always wants to talk about William and me, but those guys are really fucking important, Sean Kinney and Mike Inez. mAlso, the identity of the sound, that’s carried over as well. But back to Will and I – it’s a pilot/co-pilot situation, and either one of us could be in either seat at any time.”

As Cantrell said in the interview, he and DuVall are kind of interchangeable when it comes to singing. It is safe to say that William DuVall was the perfect candidate since the two continue making successful musical efforts within Alice In Chains as the band’s two lead vocalists.