All Star Magazine
Feb. 12 - 13, 1998


Part One Of A Two-Part Interview

"It's a very personal song," says Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell of the moving "Hurt a Long Time" from his debut solo album Boggy Depot, due April 7 on Columbia. "It's about a family member who passed away a few years ago; it's really hard for me to listen to without crying." After pausing for a moment in thought, Cantrell adds, "That's a heavy tune, man. This record's really heavy and dark to me. It fills a lot of your darker, baser emotions."

You may not think of the guitarist who helped shape one of the '90s' hardest and most successful bands as someone who is moved to tears by a song, but until you've heard the 12-song Boggy Depot, you may not know Jerry Cantrell.

From the first single, "Cut You In," to the surprisingly country-tinged rocker, "Between," Boggy Depot offers candid insight into what makes Cantrell tick. "As a writer, you go with what you know," he relates. "I've always written about things that were fairly close to me." In a moment of reflection, he adds, "It's been a great ride as a songwriter."

It's not just the lyrics that come from deep within Cantrell, though. The country vocals of "Between" can be traced back to his childhood. "My mother and father both were country fans," he says, "so I dig a lot of country music, too." Among the country acts he cites as influences are Hank Williams, George Jones, and Merle Haggard.

And the biggest difference between releasing a solo record and being part of a band? "Singing all the time," Cantrell laughs. More seriously, he adds, "Your attention is demanded more personally in all areas -- production, songwriting, press... I'm finding there's different demands on you, but it's cool. It's a challenge."

But it's the touring he's most excited about. He's in the midst of putting a band together and hopes to be ready to hit the road in April. However, as was the case with setting a release date for the CD, which he says, "never would've seen the light of day unless I felt it stood up to a certain standard of mine," he won't be going on tour until he's sure the live show is worthy. By the same token, he empathizes with fans who grew frustrated at not being able to see Alice in Chains live and wants to reassure them it won't be much longer.

For Cantrell, having an album that he can take pride in is a big part of the appeal in getting back onstage. "It's a damn good record," he says. "It deserves to be worked."

Check out part two of our interview with Cantrell on Friday (Feb. 13) when he talks about the state of Alice in Chains.

-Steve Baltin


Part Two Of A Two-Part Interview

With the forthcoming release of Boggy Depot, the solo debut from Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell, comes the inevitable question, What's the status of Alice in Chains? Has the seminal grunge group permanently parted ways, or is Boggy Depot and its subsequent tour just a way for Cantrell to enjoy a hiatus from his mates in Alice?

"You gotta move on," says Cantrell. "It becomes time for change." He also admits that he had to make certain adjustments when he was searching for a new band, calling it "a whole new ballgame for me."

But Cantrell hesitates to disclose much more than that. When asked point- blank if Alice was through, Cantrell responds with the savvy that comes from answering these questions for over 10 years: "We've been together for 11 years, and it just comes time for a change," he says. "We've been moving towards not playing live much, and we've put out some great records. Things change. At the same time, we never publicly said we were over, and I won't say that now."

Having now had the freedom of a solo album, would he find it difficult to re-enter the world of Alice in Chains? "Not at all," he says. "Alice is like a fucking well-worn glove, man. It would be very easy if that were the case, but it won't be for some time, so I've got time for something new. I plan on doing this for quite a while, actually."

Cantrell is so enthused about being active in the music scene again that he is having a hard time not jumping ahead, in his mind, to his second solo record. He admits he tries to not do that too much, but he's already got a plan mapped out for the next year or two. "I plan on touring this record this year, and during that I'll be writing. I'm always collecting songs, and I'd like to try to cement some sort of lineup by the time the touring cycle is over so that our chops are still hot, we've got a group feel, and we can go right in and cut another one."

Cantrell also has a well- documented interest in acting -- he made a cameo in Jerry Maguire -- but for now will only commit to film scoring as a side venture. "I'd like to look into that," he says, although he has nothing signed, sealed, and delivered at this time. As for future acting roles, he'll only say he wouldn't turn down the opportunity.

He says the same of production. Though he co-produced this record with Tobey Wright, he says any production chores yet to come for him are still down the road. He concedes he has thoughts of it from time to time, but right now he's just into playing the role of solo artist. Still, years from now, don't be surprised to see Cantrell pop up anywhere, from film to Broadway. "There's nothing wrong," he says, "with taking risks."

-Steve Baltin