Cantrell said about rock:
“Things are always changing, right? That is just the essence of existence, and life. There’s always change happening. Nothing is f**king static. It’s going somewhere.
“Where it’s going to go, who the f**k knows. But as far as I’ve been alive, there’s always been rock. And it always spoke to me in a way that was really powerful, and visceral. And not just rock, just music in general. Being a recording artist, whatever your genre.
“I think any generation can turn into the old man yelling at the kids to get off your lawn. ‘They don’t understand anymore.’ And I remember my parents didn’t like my music too much either, so it’s totally normal for that to be the case.
“I’m just lucky I still have something to focus on that I dig doing. And that I’ve got my friends around me to make that music with.
“Somehow, after 32 years, there’s still millions of fans that we get to stand in front of, and travel around the world, and play our music to. And new stuff is just as important as anything that we’ve put out before.
“We’ve always been an in-the-moment, now-thinking band. We don’t look too far back, and we don’t look too far forward. We’re always trying to forget about what we’ve done before.
“We don’t need to worry about sounding like ourselves, because that’s just how we sound. It’s an established thing. So really it just comes down to pleasing yourself. I believe that this record is as strong as any record we’ve ever put out.”
Here’s something I always wanted to know: Is it bizarre to you that that entire cross-section of [grunge] bands is now referred to as ‘classic rock’? And spun on classic-rock radio?
“It’s great. I mean, it’s a big long-term goal that you set for yourself: to be one of those bands that stands the test of time. And even maybe even the music can live on past the individuals in the band. And if it makes enough of an impact with people, and speaks to them in a way where they make it their own.
“All we can do is satisfy ourselves personally, as friends, musicians, and artists. To try to keep making the best music that we can. And from ’91 ’til right now, every time we put a record out we’ve been very fortunate to be considered with our peers and get some attention for the effort laid down on the tracks. And we’ve been really lucky that way.
“We haven’t been so lucky to win [a Grammy], but we’ve been nominated a bunch. I think this is our ninth nomination. We’ve got a couple of technical ones for our work, and production. As for the music, this is our ninth one. Yep. 0 in 9, baby. [Laughs]”
Switching gears for a moment, GQ recently spoke to musicians about thriving creatively while staying sober. As an artist who has spoken publicly about the friends you’ve lost to substance abuse – and staying sober yourself – how would you say that you mine your creativity in sobriety?
“Getting f**ked up is fun, and that’s why people do it. Especially when you’re young. It’s a part of life. It’s a part of a lot of people’s experience. But it comes with a price. It generally doesn’t end good.
“I’ve been super-creative fucked up. I’ve been super-creative not f**ked up. It’s been so many years for me that I just don’t really think about that anymore. I think, at some point, it becomes an impediment. It works until it doesn’t. Let’s put it that way.
“It worked for a while. And I think that’s the case probably for most people. Maybe takes you and puts you in a different mind space, and kind of maybe opens your perception to some stuff, but the costs are so fucking high. You know what I mean?
“And hopefully, being on the other side of that. I don’t miss it at all. But I’m also not ashamed of it. Nobody’s perfect, and I certainly am not. You just kind of figure it out as you go. Life’s pretty good right now. And has been for some time.”
Any idea what’s next for you and Alice In Chains?
“Still just trying to figure out what I want to do next, and what the band wants to do next. Right now we’re kind of at halftime of this campaign. We toured from spring of last year, till November.
“And then we’ve taken a couple of months off. We’re going to start up again in March and go all the way until fall again. And then that’ll be the end of the campaign.
“And we’ll probably take some time to step away from the band for a little bit. And then figure out where we go from here. That’s what we do. That’s what we’ve been doing for the last three records. And that’s been 12, 13 years now. And it seems to work pretty good.”