Now well into their Second act, Alice in Chains have been back to full-time action since regrouping in 2005. Adding charismatic singer / guitarist William DuVall in place of the late Layne Staley, the band have built on their impressive legacy, with ‘Black Gives Way To Blue’ (2009), ‘The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here’ (2013), and latest effort ‘Rainier Fog’. We caught up with William at Ultimate NAMM night in Anaheim, to chat NAMM, working with Elton John, and the band’s return to Ireland. So far under; Eamon O'Neill.
Welcome to Ultimate NAMM, William; what brings you here tonight?
Vernon Reid [Living Colour guitarist] brings me here tonight! I ran into him yesterday, and he was like; “Are you coming to the thing?!”, and I was like; “Ah, what’s the thing?!” So, yeah, I’m here.
Well, you’re a man who can certainly handle a song.
Well yeah, Actually, I’m not even going perform tonight. I’m just here to watch and be a total civilian. I want to just enjoy the performances and join some old friends. I’m not working, and I just came here with my old friend! That’s all I’m here for; old friends and good music.
In fairness, you’ve had a busy NAMM; you were signing at Framus & Warwick earlier today.
Yeah, it’s good. It’s been a busy NAMM, but it’s nice to see everybody.
You’re now three albums into a career with Alice in Chains; did you know that it was going to last this long when you joined?
Well, there’s no way to predict that kind of thing. We didn’t know when we got going; it was just sort of like, we’ve really just been making it up as we go along. I think that’s the best thing to do, because, what’s that old thing about making plans is the best way to make the universe laugh at you? So we just, we kind of take it one at a time, you know?
You must have felt immense pressure stepping up to take that job.
Right. Yeah, sure there were challenges, but, we also, we knew what we were doing and we knew what we had. We did about two years of touring before we ever stepped into the studio, so we found our chemistry on stage right away.
That chemistry translated into the phenomenal ‘Black Gives Way To Blue’; what was it like to work on such an important album?
We were always hard on ourselves, so that part, that’s never changing. And as far as everything, it was mostly just about like, shutting out the external noise around us, because we had our own tornado going on. So we didn’t want to hear the opinions or whatever.
You recorded with Elton John on the sublime title track.
Oh yeah yeah yeah! It was amazing. We were all fans of his from we were little kids. And he was amazing in the studio. Like, he showed up like a total pro and was there to serve the session, serve the song; he’s a great musician.
What do you think of the reaction so far to latest album ‘Rainier Fog’?
Well, it’s been really nice, really nice. It’s a great honour to be nominated for a Grammy again, and who knows; maybe we’ll actually get one this time.
Finally, rumours suggest that you’re on your way back to Ireland very soon.
Yeah, we are, that’s true. It’s going to be very soon, it’s like late spring, early summer.
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Alice in Chains play Dublin’s Olympia Theatre on 20th May 2019, and Belfast’s Telegraph Building the following night. For a full list of dates click HERE.