Jerry Cantrell Low-key In Orlando


In spite of horrible weather and the recent death of his former bandmate, a rather solemn Jerry Cantrell turned up at the Orlando, FL Megastore on Sat (6/8) afternoon to help promote his second solo album, Degradation Trip (RoadRunner). Even though the album isn’t out until later on in the month (6/18), the famed guitarist and founding member of the seminal Seattle band, Alice in Chains, signed posters and album artwork to accompany the forthcoming album for nearly 100 people – most who were in their late 20s and 30s.

“He looked every inch the rock star: skinny, tight-panted, and handsome,” reports Megastore employee Hollie Petillo. “He was quiet and I think that threw people a little, but he was gracious just the same, signing everything fans put in front of him (including old Alice in Chains CDs and vinyl), even though it was supposed to be one item only.” Apparently Cantrell was not feeling well, complaining of having a stomachache and unable to shake hands because “it hurt,” yet he soldiered through the event. Even so, it was cut short in less than an hour, just before 4pm.

Many in attendance wondered if Cantrell was still deeply affected by the death of Alice in Chains lead Layne Staley , who died of a drug overdose in Seattle in April. Historically, Alice in Chains represents the most nihilistic of grunge bands with its foreboding, almost eerie sound marked by the late lead singer’s fascination with gloomy strains of life, including heroine use which eventually overtook his life. The band’s sound was actually more akin to heavy metal than it was grunge, with Cantrell’s more traditional playing balancing out Staley’s ongoing gaze at the dark side. Yet once Nirvana blew up in the early �90s with the “grunge” tag (good or bad) Alice in Chains was thrown in with it.

“I’m sure the girl wearing the ‘R.I.P. Layne’ shirt didn’t help matters,” continues Petillo about the instore event. “He was probably reluctant to talk too much because the conversation would have inevitably turned to Layne, and who wants to discuss the death of a friend with a bunch of strangers? In retrospect, I would have to say that although it wasn’t the most animated instore we’ve ever had, the significance of Jerry coming in to meet a few fans and sign some CDs in the wake of everything that’s happened to him in the last two months should not be taken lightly.” Adding, “You only had to see him onstage later that night (at Hard Rock Live opening up for Nickelback) to realize that he warmed up and really took off when he saw the crowd’s reaction. He never said anything about Layne, but I think his decision to perform several Alice songs – and I saw him on tour behind his last solo album (Boggy Depot, 1997) and he only did one – not to mention the songs he chose, was his tribute.”

Courtesy of Virgin Mega Magazine