Alice In Chains, So Far Under
“No,” says Jerry, not once but twice. “It’s the old chestnut: an artist is supposed to reflect the world back at itself. There’s some of that in there, but this isn’t a political record. Yes, the last record had a song that was about religious intolerance and the horrible things done in the name of that, but the whole record wasn’t about that.”
While Jerry is in clarification mode, he says he’s somewhat mystified by the emphasis people have put on Rainier Fog being the band’s first album in five years.
“I don’t know why everyone’s got hung up on it,” he says, pulling up the brim of his trucker cap as if he’s about to delve under the bonnet of a car. “Two of those years were spent touring the last record, right? Then it takes about a year, year and a half, to write it, get together, record it, get a deal, get the artwork. So that’s three and a half years, plus we’ve got to have a little time off somewhere!”
“If we just got off the road and went straight into the studio, you’d hear songs about catering and missed flights,” jokes Mike.
Despite his mild frustration, Jerry reveals the album was done a year ago and awaiting AIC’s deal with new label BMG to be finalised. “I think we’ve earned the right to move at our own fucking pace,” he asserts.
Of that there is no doubt.
William DuVall is pacing. The trim 50-year-old may look the picture of laid-back cool – sunglasses permanently on, his impressive hair turning the colour of cigarette ash in places – but he’s a man who always seems to be on a mission. We’re in the backstage area of the Caesarea Amphitheatre, a venue dating back some 2,000 years, about an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv. Although there’s still hours to go until the first of their two shows here, the singer and guitarist has fastidiously soundchecked – particularly important in a venue built for gladiatorial battles rather than the comparatively tame spectacle of rock shows – and practised the Hebrew words and phrases he’s had the local promoter teach him in order to address the audience later
The importance of the city is not lost on William; neither, similarly, is Seattle, where Alice In Chains returned to record Rainier Fog, the first time they’ve worked in their hometown since 1995. Then, as now, the band recorded at Studio X, the birthplace of classic albums by Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, as well as their own self-titled third album, their last with original singer Layne Staley, who died in 2002.