Jerry Cantrell has learned to be patient with unfinished songs

Jerry Cantrell
(Image credit: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)

Jerry Cantrell has learned to be patient with unfinished songs, even if it takes years to make an idea work.

Whether it’s Alice In Chains or a solo album – like his most recent release, 2021’s Brighten – he likes to head into the studio without a refined idea of what he’ll do when he gets there.

Cantrell told SiriusXM: “I probably rolled into the process with, I don’t know, about 15 or 16 solid ideas. There was a couple that I’d been carrying around for years. 

“Like the riff to Atone, and I think I had the chorus, lyric and melody – I literally had it for years and I just couldn’t finish it. It comes when it comes, and I’ve learned to not discard things.

“I always knew there was something really special about that, and it had the potential to turn into a great song one day. And it finally did.”

He added that he’d come up with parts of Dismembered while touring with Korn in 2019, and parts of Siren Song had been around for a similar period. “Not all films get made,” he said, likening his process to writing a movie. “Maybe they get made later. Maybe it’s better if you make ‘em 20 years down the road.”

Cantrell said he aimed to apply a “musical fingerprint” to every record he made, and he’d “achieved that” with Brighten. Once he knew the “fingerprint” was there he felt he could work without enforcing any restrictions on his process. “We never did that in Alice and I don’t do that outside of Alice either,” he reported.

“It’s more interesting to me to go into a project without some sort of a plan – ‘I’m going to write this kind of a song, I’m going to make this kind of a record’ – just naturally let it flow and see what the hell happens. That’s fun; it’s exciting for me.”

Cantrell’s current tour continues with dates in Europe, the UK, Israel and the US.

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Not only is one-time online news editor Martin an established rock journalist and drummer, but he’s also penned several books on music history, including SAHB Story: The Tale of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, a band he once managed, and the best-selling Apollo Memories about the history of the legendary and infamous Glasgow Apollo. Martin has written for Classic Rock and Prog and at one time had written more articles for Louder than anyone else (we think he's second now). He’s appeared on TV and when not delving intro all things music, can be found travelling along the UK’s vast canal network.