Alice In Chains' William DuVall talks music, the hardcore scene and Star Trek

Music
See, he makes me look like a hypocrite because I'm touring and acoustic album. I'm playing this entire series of shows all over the world. And I'm doing it with these hummingbirds and they're awesome. And then you're gonna make me say electric guitar [MUSIC] The idea make this album come from and go, why did I go acoustic? Well, it really just sorta happened. Organically to use the overused term [LAUGH] So like I went in to do a demo for song Till the Light Guides Me Home and at the time I was thinking perhaps giving it away to another artist. I was considering producing a record for this artist and I thought Till the Light Guides Me Home might be a good song for them to sing, so But I thought let's go ahead and run down a demo really quick of me just doing it by myself solo acoustic so that we can at least have something tangible to discuss. And I went in, song went down in just a few minutes. And while I was there, the engineer looked to me like, Man, you're thinking about giving that away. What's wrong with you? And I thought well, yeah, maybe you're right. And I was like, Well, hey, you know what we got a whole afternoon book mics set up. Let's just go ahead and record a few more while we're at it. And so I've laid down a bunch more walked out of there at the end of the evening with the eight songs, had no idea what I was going to do with it, but it ended up becoming the genesis for the one alone album. So over the course of it took some time but But over the course of time, I decided that I had the makings of a potential body of work that could sit well as an album. And so I went back into the studio did a handful more songs and an evening and that's what we have. We have the one alone album and It just makes sense for right now for a whole host of reasons. putting out a record under my own name was a bit of a psychological hurdle for me. I've been a band guy all my life, you know, since I was 15 years old. And so the idea of putting out an album under my own name was was a was a challenge, but I felt like if there was ever an album to conquer that challenge It would be one like this. It's just one guitar, one voice all the way through from beginning to end. So that's what we got. We got the William vol one alone album and I naturally want to go out and play some shows around it so I might as well do the shows the way I did the album, just Myself and this Hummingbird. So that's where we get the tour. I think that 15 year old me would dig this because I grew up loving all kinds of music. And I grew up being fortunate enough to be exposed to a wide variety Do music So, I love Hendrix, but I also love Joni Mitchell. And I love Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman and Led Zeppelin and Cranston. And so I think 15 year old me would be okay with this whole thing. Not that, that matters because I just have to go you know, slap 15 year old me upside the head and go Look man, I gotta make a living. So get out of here, okay? you abandon the kid till the light guides me home was one of those fortunate moments in every songwriters life where. You get a song that falls out of the sky virtually complete. It was playing in my mind like a finished record and I just had to grab a guitar fast enough to keep up with it. It was written in one sitting. And yeah, that happens all too rarely as most songwriters will tell you, we all wish it could happen more. Exceptional songs like to like as me home notwithstanding it can happen the process can go any number of ways. Sometimes one line will trigger it, I'll get a word or a line that will open the door to something. A lot of times it can be a chord progression or A riff or a series of notes. There's really no hard fast rules with the songwriting process, if we could make those rules, if we could codify it I think we would have done that by now make things easier. But that's the beauty of it is that it's not easy, it never is. Dark days tearing me down, nuts are soaked with tears. Our love won't ever die, but neither will our [MUSIC] Yeah, I would say they all had an insatiable yearning for the truth for searching out their own personal truth and being brave enough to really explore that with all its dimensions They struggled to find the sounds that would express that truth. And so that's the common thread that marks all of the artists that I really love. Whether it's Ellington or Hendrix or Joni, Prancer, Zeppelin, The Beatles. That's the through line. They all were trying to find their truth, search out the sounds that would resonate. Well, I started playing guitar at eight years so this is pretty much, [LAUGH] This has been pretty much it. Although, I'd say when I was four, five years old there was a brief Flirtation with the idea of maybe being a cartoonist. [LAUGH] Because I love the comics. I love the flexibility of the cartoon medium, I mean the early Looney Tunes it's just some of the best humor that's ever been documented. And but I love that and I love the really dark Batman comics from the 30s and 40s. And I love Charlie Brown. And so cartooning was was a something that captured my imagination when I was really really small before before I came on to music at eight but one say Found the guitar, I found Hendrix and all the the great guitar music that was around when I was eight. That was it was done. Well, Washington DC, specifically during the time I was growing up, so you're talking, you know in the 70s Was a very special place to be because we had just so much great black music all around us. So there were things that were, you know, obviously, being released worldwide and having a profound influence worldwide like Marvin Gaye and allow a lot of the other Motown artists like Stevie Wonder. And then you have groups like Earth, Wind, and Fire, and all that. So that was one thing, but then locally, we had a lot of great artists and what came to be known as go go music. And there wasn't a collective music scene beyond the go go scene too and. And obviously, you know, DC had ended up creating one of the great hardcore punk scenes in the United States. So there was a real diversity there and that was great to grow up in. But then moving to Atlanta when I was 14 was also another Kind of a pivotal moment in my development because I was just getting into hardcore punk. Having been a guitar player for a number of years, starting at eight and then moving into my teenage years and really loving the energy of punk and bringing my Sense of musicianship, my sort of wider screen sense of musicianship to punk music. And then just as I was discovering what a great scene I had in my own backyard in Washington, D.C. We had to move, my family moved and we moved to Atlanta where there was nothing going on. So in the true pioneer DIY spirit of punk rock, we had to create something out of nothing. And so that was very, very influential and formative For me and for all my friends in the early Atlanta hardcore scene because we had challenges that the challenges that you only have when you're trying to carve out a space for yourself where there had been no space before. And then of course there was massive resistance to us doing that. From all quarters, you know of authority, whether it was police or teachers, you know, school officials, whatever. I mean, it was everything was a challenge and we had to figure out ways around it. So that was really really important and taught me a lot that I still use today. I don't know. I mean, that's how things changed in general, and then things have changed a lot just because Longevity has its strength. You know, we've been at it for a long time now in this incarnation of the band, and we've put out three albums and we've done numerous world tours. And the sheer amount of time that we've been doing it, it just keeps growing. And so that sort of sends the message that, This is here to stay. And so people's perceptions, change and adapt to that and at the same time, you have all these. These huge paradigm shifts in the music industry. So all of us who played music for a living have to negotiate that new terrain. [BLANK_AUDIO] The temptation is just Allison chains fans why they should listen to Well, I don't I would tell anybody, no matter who they like they should check out this record just because they might dig it. You know, the same way anybody would want anyone to check out their record. It's just an honest slice of life. So if you dig that might dig this And then maybe you want to come out and see me play [LAUGH] because I'm probably coming to your town or a town near you pretty soon. [MUSIC] We're still figuring that out. The shift has been so rapid and so profound. That I think it's going to be a number of years before we have a handle on it. I mean, the laws haven't even caught up with the technology yet. So there's this so much that has yet to be ironed out and there's There's just so much uncertainty and it hasn't quite settled into anew normal. Technology with every aspect of life it presents a double-edged sword. In some ways, it can make things more convenient. In some ways particularly with. Regard to the recording process of music or filmmaking. It democratizes the process a little bit because obtaining the tools of the trade is a little bit easier and you might be able to, I realized something that is more professional or commercial grade right from your bedroom. We've got we've got people winning every Grammy that they have to get out, making records in the bedroom, so You know, that's an interesting thing. It's an interesting development. And yet at the same time, an argument could be made that certain things are being lost. And particularly for people who came up the way I did, where I'm a like I said, I'm a band guy. And so when I was a kid, it was all about finding The kid down the street who could play the bass or finding the kid, few neighborhoods over who could play the drums and you get together in a garage or in a basement and you thrash it out and then you try to get good enough to maybe get a gig at your at your local club or whatever. Making a record, was such a huge thing just to get into a studio just to see a studio is a huge thing. And I think in some ways, having to conquer that hurdle may have perhaps, weeded out some of the chaff a little bit. Maybe or And obviously the recording process hadn't changed so much. We used to record the tape, there was no splicing. You could tape splice, but though, the way we're talking about records being made now, you can almost edit a record from nothing. You can almost. You can take a block of sounds, crush them up against another block of sounds, edit it in a certain way and it sounds somewhat cohesive in a way that wouldn't have been possible in the tape era. So it's affected how people even bands, make records. You just have to go with your arrangements already done. Because you only have one chance you'd lay it down, everybody be playing live. I personally still like to make records that way. So I guess ultimately, I would say it's probably to the general benefit of everyone that we have more choices. Because if you still want to go in and thrash it out live the way I used to like to do in the West still like to do, you can do that. And if you wanna make a record in your bedroom, The way say Billy Eilish is someone works with her brother. You can do that. So I guess it's ultimately it's probably good to have more variety more choices, more options. But yeah, we still we've got a long way to go in terms of The laws, catching up with what we do, how we deal with Intellectual Property now. I'm gonna go with Hendrix electric Hendrix Electric Ladyland. I would go with [MUSIC] Coltrane. I would probably go with [MUSIC] I mean the Love Supreme, that's an obvious thing. But the record, the Village Vanguard, I love that one. I love the live records, One Down, One Up, Village Vanguard, Village Gate. I love those, so one of those. And then Joni Mitchell Hejira is pretty good. Yeah, I can deal with that. Weather Report heavy weather. That's a good one. Because just because it was so formative To me, that's that's important. So okay, I'll go with Hendrix Electric Ladyland. I'll go with live Coltrane. I'll go with the one down one, No, and I'll go with, with heavy. No, I'm sorry. I'll go with Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life because that's just such a good all rounder. Yeah, go to sleep. [MUSIC] Electric. [UNKNOWN] As I'm sitting here holding hummingbird, see he makes me look like a hypocrite, because I'm touring and acoustic album. I'm playing this entire series of shows all over the world and I'm doing it with these hummingbirds and they're awesome. And then you're gonna make me say electric guitar But no, but it's because of the fact that an electric guitar can work somewhat as an acoustic instrument, especially if it's a really good one. You can go you can record directly into the board with an electric guitar. And yet you can also plug into an amplifier and get all sorts of like a symphony of sounds and feedback and all that kind of stuff too. So that's why. [BLANK_AUDIO] Star Trek, because I mean it was just cool. They were just cool. I loved it. My dad loves Star Trek. We used to watch it And this spark there's nothing cooler than that. And Dave t curve was cool too in his own way. And it was just such a big deal for that time period to have that diverse a cast on television on on a big television show. You got a Hoover and you got Sulu and it was his dope show his [MUSIC] black flag handles [MUSIC] Wrong for sure. I think he would even might pick Black Flag and I don't know for sure but Black Flag Henry Rollins, because yeah, that was a really important time. That was a really important band for me at that time and remains so yeah. I Got to know those guys a little bit back then and it was a huge thing to be exposed to your idols like that, you know to be able to go to sound checks and hang out and watch them set up and watch them blast through their songs with nobody there, you know, no audience there but you and, you know, maybe go to The local vegetarian restaurant, kick it. It was such as cool, cool time, yeah. I would have to say Atlanta only because I have so much more history there that's relevant to me right now. It remains relevant to me right now and yeah. [MUSIC] iPhone. Vinyl. Interesting. I I would got such an interesting laptop. I would probably say at this moment laptop, only because I am multitasking so much of the time. That whatever I still do use pen and paper if you look at my desk, In my office, it's just covered in post it notes. Whether it's reminders or whatever, just notes I'm taking on things but whatever I'm scrolling on the post it notes I can also scroll on or type on the notepad. In my laptop, so, for the versatility factor, I would say laptop please. My god and in terms of what, What are we talking about? Like what is the criteria upon which I'm judging these things? Purely whatever you want. [BLANK_AUDIO] I mean, Neon Christ because I couldn't be what I am in Alice in Chains without Neon Christ. [MUSIC] That period of time in my life forms the foundation, the bedrock for everything I'm doing now. [MUSIC] So without that, I wouldn't even be here. [MUSIC]

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