The members of Alice in Chains are anxious for fans to know that their brand-new album, “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here,” is, in fact, completely brand new.
Though the quartet talked about unused songs for 2009’s “Black Gives Way To Blue” — AiC’s first new release in 14 years — while touring to promote the Grammy Award-nominated album, that material wound up not factoring into the new Nick Raskulinecz-produced set.
“We did have some things left over from ‘Black Gives Way To Blue,’ but none of those were used here,” William DuVall, who joined AiC in 2006 to replace the late Layne Staley, tells Billboard. “It was pretty much started from scratch. And we recorded everything we had, so there aren’t any (leftovers) from this one.”
Guitarist Jerry Cantrell seconds that “Dinosaurs” is comprised of “all new shit. We started from zero, and that’s pretty much what you want to do most every time. There’s an occasional lingerer between records sometimes, but not on this one. The best place to start is to completely forget what you did. Its scary to do that, and it’s challenging, like, ‘Oh, what the fuck do we do now?’ But, y’know, we know we’ve done it before, so we know we can do it again.”
DuVall, meanwhile, says he was happy to get to a second album with the group and, hopefully, not have to deal with the issue of whether AiC should continue without Staley, who died in 2002. “That question was settled, I think, and it allowed us a little more leeway to concentrate on the task at hand, which was the music,” DuVall explains. “We did that on ‘Black Gives Way To Blue,’ too, but it took that much more effort to kind of shut out the noise of the outside world and only deal with what we were doing. That was very much ‘the first one,’ and there was a feeling of exerting our right to exist. This one had a little more of a comfortable, easy feeling.”
Cantrell, who’s successfully recovered from shoulder surgery last year, points out that, “We’ve been together doing shows since 2006, so we’ve been working together for awhile. There’s always room for growth, but we’ve been pretty tight for years, before we made a record. So it’s just that much better this time. It’s a really big record and we’re really proud of it. It’s always great when you get the chance to make another one.”
“Dinosaurs” is already off to a good start thanks to the first single, “Hollow,” which hit No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, while “Stone” has followed at No. 4. The group started touring more than two months ago, and Cantrell says AiC is looking forward to adding more of the new songs to the show now that the album is finally out.
“Unfortunately, the way things are now, we can’t do what we would really like to do, like we used to do,” he says. “We were playing half of ‘Dirt’ on the road when we were touring on ‘Facelift.’ That was great. But now the amount of control you have over your stuff getting out is so slim we can’t really play a lot of it live because it’s going to get out there in some crappy version. At least when it leaks and people take it, they get the good version first and get to know it before we play it live. So we’re not as free now to play shit live and work it out.”
AiC will be doing plenty of live work in the near future. Having just wrapped up a North American tour that included the Rock on the Range and Rocklahoma festivals, the group plays Copenhell in Denmark on June 14 and England’s Download Festival on June 15 before starting a Canadian run July 1 and then headlining the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival starting August 9 in Scranton, Pa. The group will also play Rock in Rio on Sept. 19 and is planning a European tour for the fall.