Pantera and asbestos: Jerry Cantrell remembers his time in Dallas

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If you lived in the Dallas area sometime in 1985, it’s possible that Jerry Cantrell helped remove asbestos from your school.

“Asbestos abatement — three schools in Dallas that year, three schools in Houston,” he recalls.

Cantrell, the singer/songwriter/guitarist best known for his time as anchor for longtime rock legend Alice in Chains, will return to North Texas on Thursday, April 21 for a rare solo at the Blues House , with special guest Phillip-Michael Scales.

“I spent a lot of time at the club and saw a really good band,” he said of his short life in Dallas. “I met people from Pantera—Vinnie, Dime, and Rex—and became good friends with them. I love Texas. I have a ranch not far from the Texas-Oklahoma border. “

Dallas inadvertently entered Cantrell’s musical body when it was removed by the late Alice Chains frontman Ryan Staley on “Rodeo Queen” and the band’s mad robot rambunctious blues rockers dropped from them. of live Record. Staley describes it as “country minor”.

This time, however, Cantrell wasn’t surrounded by his Alice in Chains bandmates. He’s on tour with his third solo LP brightenwhich includes contributions from Dillinger Escape Plan singers and drummers Greg Puciato and Gil Sharone, as well as Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagen, Paul McCartney drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. and producer Tyler Bates.

Cantrell said he was Brighten.

“I never start with any preconceived notions or directions,” he said. “I just thought it was time to get to work. The fun part is you don’t know where you’re going to end up. I really can’t imagine going to a song or record with some kind of plan. It just seemed a little contrived to me.”

While he may be adding a new group of musicians to the studio and touring (McKagen, Laboriel and Bates are not on the road, but Puciato and Sharone are), Cantrell says making a record bearing his name is a “no” democratic process”.

“This has to be something I can stand behind my back and put my name on,” he said. “Of course records and songs are influenced by the individuals who make the music. I’ve had a fantastic group of talented people at Alice for over 30 years and this group of artists is no exception. They definitely add to it and I’m always happy to Listen to anyone but at the end of the day it has to be [my] call. “

Cantrell finished the last thought with a smile, tempering the confidence that would otherwise be considered unapologetic. Despite his flirtatious voice, this was a sensitive time for him. Two of his closest musical peers died within a month of each other: Screaming Tree frontman Mark Lannigan and Foo Fighters drummer Tyler Hawkins, who died less than 48 hours before we spoke to Cantrell.

“Artists are just a reflection of human nature and life – they are people…Life has its moments of grandeur, breathtaking, beautiful, and moments of darkness, overwhelmingly heavy.” – Jerry Cantrell

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Given his history in the jungles of the drug-riddled Seattle grunge scene, and the premature deaths of peers like Kurt Cobain, Mother Love Bone’s Andrew Wood, and, of course, Layne Staley, Cantrell comes with a touch of darkness, But it can be in need – it’s been a recurring theme in his music, with or without Alice in chains.After all, his solo album is called brighten.

“Artists are just a reflection of humanity and life – they are people,” he said. “Life has its spectacular, amazing, beautiful moments and its dark, broken, heavy moments. If that’s our experience, you can expect that to be reflected in the art. I’m really not offended [that] Describe our music. I think that’s it. You can say the same about country, rap, soul or blues. It’s very emotional. Not all darkness, not all light. “

With Nirvana’s sharp pop and angry punk rock, Soundgarden’s metal weirdness and Pearl Jam’s classic rock rebellion, Alice’s weaponized rage was (and still is) a key cornerstone of Seattle’s grunge scene, a musical revolution that became X The defining musical voice of a generation. Since then, countless bands have imitated (but never replicated) the sound Cantrell helped create. This is where Cantrell says he’s actually flattered.

“Of course we are [flattered],” he said. “The best thing you can hope for is to be part of the story. It can be said to be a link in the chain. I wouldn’t be who I am if the influences of many of the artists I grew up with didn’t flow through me and come in some twisted form that sounds more like me than them. There’s a beauty in this about the tradition of taking the baton and handing it further afield from where you picked it up. ”

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