At Sonisphere we were talking to the biggest names in rock music for the Metal Hammer Radio Show. Here is our interview with William DuVall and Mike Inez from Alice In Chains where we talk about their love of Led Zeppelin and if there will be any mandolin on the new record.
Knebworth is incredibly significant for Led Zeppelin, are you guys fans?
**William: **“Absolutely! A gigantic fan for pretty much my whole life. I started with Hendrix but then went from that and gradually found my way over to Zeppelin. I mean they changed the game, not just musically but production wise too. Page is only just starting to get the credit for the studio wizardry. Obviously the musicianship, the chemistry, the ability to pull it off in the studio and live, the sweep of it, the scope of it to take in the Celtic, the blues and the early rock n roll, Middle Eastern influences and just coalesce that all into a seamless blend, and make it rocking. It wasn’t just like ‘oh we’ll make a world music album now, or we’ll put this world music song in the middle of this album’, they somehow kept it Zeppelin.”
Mike: “It will never be replicated, people have been trying for years and years. I think we’ve played here twice before, but every time we show up it’s hallowed ground to us. We hit the ground running this tour – we’ve already opened for Metallica and Sabbath, and Iron Maiden in France, but this was always on our radar. We’re doing Knebworth again and it’s very important to us.”
William: “To see that castle in the background and all that, like he aid it’s hallowed ground.”
Mike: “I’ve got to say though, they need some lava lamps in the castle, it’s kind of vibeless.”
Have you ever met Zeppelin? Have you ever crossed paths with Jimmy Page?
William: “I never have, I’ve never met the dark lord. I’ve been hoping at some point maybe. I just got the remasters though, maybe that will create some type of karmic justice.”
Mike: “I’ve met all three actually, you did actually William. We played a Them Crooked Vultures, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains show somewhere.”
William: “It was in Belgium I think, John Paul gave us a mandolin lesson.”
Mike: “I have a picture of the three of us, John Paul is in the middle, William’s on one side and I’m on the other side, and he gave us a mandolin lesson. He’s exactly like you’d think he is and you’d want him to be – all about the music.”
Were you a bit fanboy about it then? I imagine it’s rare you meet people that give you that ‘electricity on the back of your neck’ feeling?
**Mike: **“It was wild because we just sat down in beanbag chairs, and he’d just come along looking for somewhere comfortable to play his mandolin and happened to pop himself between me and William. We sat there with him for a good 25-30 minutes just talking. I think for someone like him,it’s just nice to sit down and talk about normal things. We didn’t ask him a bunch of Led Zeppelin questions.”
William: “That’s just too obvious, and you know nobody wants to be inundated with that. You’re there just to do what you’re there to do that day, which in his case was Them Crooked Vultures. So you end up talking about whatever’s going on in the moment.”
Mike: “He was like ‘here’s a G minor’, and we were like ‘heavy’, and he was like ‘you can play it over here as well’, ‘oh, far out’. It was an amazing musical talk.”
So what’s your favourite Zeppelin track?
William: “It’s got to be Kashmir if you’re doing a studio track, or if you’re going to do a live track…”
Mike: “Song Remains The Same for me.”
William: “Song Remains The Same is good, or I would say, you know that How The West Was Won record? I always thought the version of Stairway on there was really good. It’s killer.”
So can we expect that mandolin on the next record? What’s going on with Alice In Chains beyond this tour?
Mike: “It didn’t stick certainly, he tried to teach us, I don’t know if it stuck at all. Well, we’re going to take a break after this, we’ve been on an 18-month cycle. We have a few more Metallica shows and a headline show in Helsinki. Then we’re back to Canada and the States for 10 or 15 shows and then we’re done for the year. I’m going to go back and see my wife and not play a guitar for a little while. You’ve got to give yourself time away from this to write some songs, or else you’re just writing songs about catering and being grumpy on a tour bus. We’ve got to go home and experience some life again, and hopefully sooner rather than later we’ll all get back together again. We all live in different cities, so we’ll pick a city, meet there and start jamming again hopefully.”
**Who do you become when you’re not a member of Alice In Chains? **
William: “I’m working on two documentary films that I’m producing and directing, always writing, always recording, I produce records for other bands.|
Can you tell us more about the documentary films?
William: “One is on the Atlanta hardcore scene, which I was a part of back when it first started, so the first generation of that whole thing. The film sort of compares and contrasts the scene back then in it’s earliest days, and what we went through back then with the overwhelming sense from society at large that ‘this is wrong’, are children going crazy? Compares and contrasts our struggles with the struggles of kids who identify as punk and hardcore now, in particularly talking about the real underground, the basement show kind of punks, the people that keep it grassroots even today, what are there struggles? Now with the internet, and with punk being assimilated into mass culture, it’s an interesting thing that they face.
The other is on the jazz musician Milford Graves. He’s one of the greatest musicians ever but what really makes him interesting, even beyond that is his scientific work. The guy is doing this amazing, cutting-edge cardiac research. It’s as exciting and potentially game changing as any research that you can hear about going on in that field. People are just starting to wake up to what he is doing and the philosophy behind it because he approaches medicine and science like a musician, so he really has an approach that nobody else has.”
Mentioning Milford Graves your eyes lit up as well Mike, are you a fan?
Mike: “Oh yeah, through William, he’s just a heavy dude. I don’t want to spoil it but the people he’s interviewed are amazing, I’m looking forward to it. Me on the other hand, I go home and I walk in the house, my wife hands me a dog shit shovel and some light bulbs and says ‘get to work motherfucker, alright rock star, dog yard needs some shit cleaning’. So I just went to get home to my wife and family.”
This interview originally aired on the Metal Hammer Radio Show. Find out more here.