Alice In Chains’ Jerry Cantrell Reveals Layne Staley’s Reaction To Him Singing Lead

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Jerry Cantrell discussed singing with late Alice In Chains frontman Layne Staley in a recent Rock Fantasy Camp Q&A, and how Staley pushed him to continue to sing more lead. Alternative Nation transcribed Cantrell’s comments.

“Layne was like a myna bird, any accent or thing that he heard, he could totally replicate, so he was really good with that. I had a pretty strong background in choir throughout junior high and high school. I was like the President of my choir in high school. We used to perform acapella, four part harmony acapella state competition type stuff, like Bartok, great classical type stuff, so kind of dark brooding harmonies and stuff like that.

I had a great teacher, that had a big impact on me. Plus all the bands that I’d been a fan of used harmonies or had multiple singers: KISS, The Who, Pink Floyd, The Beatles are the ultimate one, The Eagles. I always loved bands with multiple voices and harmonies. So the combination of he and I, we developed early on an easy way to work together that way. As far as writing that type of stuff, if I didn’t have it, he had it, if he didn’t have it, I had it. We developed a language and sound by singing that way.

As it went on, like with the EP I started to sing some lead, and continued to grow along those lines with every record that we did. My role became bigger, with the support of Layne egging me on to sing more, it really became a two vocal band. Having William [DuVall], William and I work within the same context, although they’re two completely different guys, two completely different voices, but it works, because we work together in the same sort of context.”

  • dakotablue

    “it really became a two vocal band”–yeah, one was the lead vocal (Layne) and one was mostly vocal harmony (Jerry). Oh, I know JC did some leads too, but they are only average quality compared to Staley the powerhouse. Cantrell’s voice is light and pleasant but not distinctive.