Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell on Hanging w/ Pantera in the ’80s: “I’m like half redneck – which meant I got on with those guys really well” – 2022 Interview
You were childhood friends with Pantera’s Abbott brothers, Vinnie and Dime, which is crazy to think knowing what you all went on to achieve, isn’t it?
“Yeah, we had pretty similar career arcs. I went to college, really just to give me more time to fuck about and play guitar, and a few buddies of mine started a band. We never really played any shows, but the drummer decided he wanted to quit college and go to Texas for a year. I thought that sounded pretty good, so I quit halfway through my first semester and moved to Texas.
“We used to hang out in Houston and Dallas. There was a club called Cardi’s [in Houston] and lots of bands played there, and one night Pantera came through and I met those guys; I wanted to because they were so great. I was hanging with Vinnie, Rex and Dime, this was before Phil [Anselmo]joined the band, and I’m like half redneck and half Yankee – I was born in Washington but my Dad is from Oklahoma – which meant I got on with those guys really well. We had the same interests and the same dreams; it’s pretty crazy to see how our lives went.”
Your connection with Layne Staley, the way your voices melded together, was such a huge part of Alice In Chains. How natural and easy a connection was that?
“Layne was just an amazing talent. He had a real unique and powerful voice, but he had a sensitivity and touch to it as well. The way that I wrote and the way that he wrote blended together so well, we felt like a natural fit. He had more horsepower than me, I’m not going to be able to do the Brian Johnson gargled razor blades, but together we had something that the other didn’t.
Think of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, the Eagles… that attitude of, ‘You take this line and I’ll take that one’ – it adds more colour to the canvas. Someone reviewed us once and called us ‘The Satanic Everly Brothers’, which I thought was pretty cool.”
1994’s Jar Of Flies was the first EP ever to top the Billboard Top 200. That’s an incredible achievement.
“Yeah, it’s pretty wild. We had this idea between Facelift and Dirt that we had these acoustic songs kicking around, and we were known for more powerful and hard-hitting stuff, and that became Sap, which we thought of as a little Easter egg for the fans. So, we decided to do it again between Dirt and the self-titled album, and that was Jar Of Flies.
“In a lot of ways, it’s maybe become as definitive to our career as Dirt. A lot of people really liked that EP, the only one to have ever hit No.1, it’s pretty wild. We knocked Mariah Carey off of the No.1 spot – sense of pride for us! She was married to Tommy Mottola, who was the president of our record label, so I’m sure that was a fun night in their household that week! Mariah going, ‘Who the fuck are these guys?!’ Ha ha ha!
It was just a good five- or six-year window where rock was king, and that doesn’t happen that much, when you get even the pop people celebrating rock and it being the number one thing. It was probably the last time that happened.”
Read the entire interview @ this location.