Alice In Chains' Jerry Cantrell Reflects On Sobriety

By David Konow 02/19/19

"Getting f—ed up is fun, and that's why people do it. Especially when you're young. It's a part of life... But it comes with a price," Cantrell said in a new interview.

Alice In Chains' Jerry Cantrell

When Nirvana’s Nevermind album exploded in the early nineties, Seattle immediately became a hotbed for great music, and bands like Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains all became wildly successful. But with that success also came tragedy with the deaths of Kurt Cobain, Chris Cornell and Alice in Chains lead singer Layne Staley, who died at the age of 34 after struggling with heroin addiction for years.

Now Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell is reflecting on his own sobriety, and the myth that drugs make rock stars more creative.

As Cantrell told, "Getting f—ed up is fun, and that's why people do it. Especially when you're young. It's a part of life. It's a part of a lot of people's experience. But it comes with a price. It generally doesn't end good."

Cantrell continues, “I’ve been super creative fucked up. I’ve been super creative not fucked up. It’s been so many years for me that I just don’t really think about that anymore. I think, at some point it becomes an impediment. It works until it doesn’t. Let’s put it that way.”

Cantrell added, “It worked for a while. And I think that’s the case probably for most people. Maybe [it] takes you and puts you in a different mind space, and kind of maybe opens your perception to some stuff, but the costs are so fucking high. You know what I mean.”

Cantrell has been sober for years. “I don’t miss [drugs] at all," he said. "But I’m also not ashamed of it. Nobody’s perfect, and I certainly am not. You just kind of figure it out as you go.”

Cantrell told Billboard that when he recorded one of his darkest albums, his solo work Degradation Trip, he was “just really fucked up back then, and you can totally hear it on that record. It was done right before I got sober, and it was also done right when I was dealing with the death of my band, and then the unhappy coincidence of Layne passing away right after I released that record. So it was not a good time in my life, and it totally comes across on that record.”

Cantrell said he got sober a year after Layne died, and he wishes that the legendary singer could leave a legacy without the focus on his drug problems.

As Cantrell said on The Pulse of Radio, “It’s unfortunate that that seems to be the only headline that gets equated with him, because there was so much more to him than that. Not taking away the fact of the reality of what that is, and how it ended, everybody knows that too. But there’s a whole lot more to the story.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.