After Degradation Commute — which change into devoted to Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley, who died of an overdose at age 34 two months before its originate — Cantrell refocused on his most most well-known band. Alice in Chains delivered its fourth album, Black Provides System to Blue, in 2009, adopted by 2013’s The Devil Attach Dinosaurs Here and 2018’s Rainier Fog. Post-Rainier Fog, Cantrell started assembling the nine tracks on Brighten by revisiting his backlog of songs previously demoed and shelved, fragments of melodies and riffs held over the years, a combination of new songs — and a quilt of an Elton John deep decrease — and started recording in 2020.
“Every document I’ve been in serious about has a pair of options that either weren’t in their ideal produce or appropriate didn’t match with that body of labor, and this document change into the identical,” says Cantrell. “There are some options I’ve been kicking round for some time and others that took space more spontaneously within the course of. Filmmakers by no scheme gain every movie out after they desire to produce it. Some options favor to sit for some time or accept as true with up for the genuine actor or producer. Music will not be any lots of.”
Co-produced with movie composer Tyler Bates, whose credits quilt 300, Sucker Punch and the John Wick franchise; engineered by Paul Fig, a fixture on the final three albums for Cantrell’s paunchy-time band, Alice in Chains; and blended by Joe Barresi (Queens of the Stone Age, Instrument), most of Brighten change into recorded forward of when the United States went into pandemic lockdown final year, with some drums and lots of devices tracked remotely in 2020. Bates and Cantrell had been simpatico on many stages, which Cantrell says helped Brighten approach collectively more naturally.
“We impart to every lots of and accept as true with that identical animalistic, stoner kid mentality of desirous to rock, appropriate stride it in and let her fucking rip, and that form of power and force and joy you felt when you had been a baby,” he says. “Presumably that’s something you don’t feel on a routine basis when you’ve been doing this for some time, however I gain to reconnect with it after I’m onstage and behold folks’s response. Which you might perchance favor to produce that for yourself every infrequently, and it’s continually genuine having any individual inspirational love Tyler sitting throughout from you — and he’s obtained a guitar in his hand and I’ve obtained one in mine.”
Cantrell enlisted an all-celebrity group of musicians to round out his Brighten band, alongside with Weapons N’ Roses’ bassist Duff McKagan, Greg Puciato of Dillinger Break out Thought on backing vocals, drummers Abe Laboriel Jr. and Gil Sharone, producer Michael Rozon on pedal steel, Vincent Jones and Jordan Lewis on piano, strings by Matias Ambrogi-Torres, and Bates’ daughter Lola providing backing vocals on the acoustic-led “Black Hearts and Shocking Carried out.”
“All americans involved with this place their very non-public minute ticket on it,” says Cantrell. “I produce my thing, and I produce mediate that I produce it magnificent powerful, however I produce now not stand on my own. It takes a total group of folks to gain my conception to be as genuine as it’s going to be.”
“Atone” gadgets the tone of Brighten, a convergence of sparkling and shaded, calm and unsettled. With Cantrell singing “Inviting situations on the refugee/ Preserve a sidesteppin’ over me/ No longer certain however you watched that you might/ Can you behold when there will not be this type of thing as a delicate,” the jam opens with what Cantrell calls the “cornerstone track of the album,” conveying the light and the darkish parts with prods of uncertainty on “Prism of Doubt” and the more susceptible “Black Hearts and Shocking Carried out” (“I desire to feel something/Glisten love a morning time”), “No one Breaks You” and the contemplative coasting of “Siren Music.”
With the songs all being written forward of 2020, the song didn’t absorb the more tainted power of that year. But Cantrell can behold how about a of them started to resonate over time. “If it’s a genuine song, it’s a genuine song, and it’s going to impart to any time or interval,” he says. “There had been situations dwelling throughout the final year and a half of the place I’ve been taking ticket of the song and connected it to the situations, thinking, ‘Oh man, that completely might perchance perchance had been written about this or might perchance perchance talk to this,’ and that’s a signal of a genuine song.”
The more comely Brighten providing is the final, and shortest, at beneath two minutes. A new rendition of Elton John’s “Goodbye” — the closing track off John’s 1971 originate Madman Across the Water and bookend to opener “Minute Dancer” — runs a minute bit longer (by seven seconds) than the customary, with Cantrell’s signature vocal harmonizations conserving tempo with the orchestrated finale.
When Cantrell spoke to John about doing the quilt, the latter had forgotten what album the track change into surely on and needed to Google it, however without lengthen gave his blessing to make employ of it. “He’s love, ‘I haven’t heard that song in forever,’” remembers Cantrell. “‘Fully employ it on the document.’ The fact that I might perchance name a man love that is magnificent mind-blowing to the infant in me.”
Amazed by how naturally the final portion of Brighten fell into space, Cantrell can’t again however reiterate his admiration for John. “He’s a most well-known artist to me,” he says. “You generally gain to know a genuine handful of your influences, and when you’re lucky enough, you develop into chums with them. If you hear to the model the wind is blowing, it at all times tells you when you’re doing the genuine thing or when you’re within the genuine space or the unsuitable space. The fact that it’s [“Goodbye”] closing my nine-song document and it moreover closes Madman Across the Water, which is moreover a nine-song document, is appropriate the frigid minute s–t in life that makes me feel love I’m doing the genuine thing.”
As Cantrell reflects on Brighten, he’s moreover pleased with the entirety Alice in Chains has done and the band’s space in time.
“First and most most well-known, my commitment has continually been Alice,” he says. “But I’ve had the assorted to produce some frigid records out of doors of the band with some surely intriguing, proficient chums of mine, and that’s something that doesn’t gain served while I’m working with Alice. We’re now not going to play Degradation Commute or Boggy Depot on tour, nor should calm we. But it absolutely’s form of frigid to revisit all of that stuff.”
Cantrell appears to be like inspire on his profession that spans 34 years — beginning on the forefront of grunge’s insurgence with Alice in Chains’ 1990 debut, Facelift — with pride. With the 30th anniversary of lots of defining albums of the skills love Nirvana’s Nevermind, Pearl Jam’s Ten and Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger all arriving this year, Cantrell notes that the song of that point is calm relevant.
“Other persons are calm taking ticket of these albums,” he says. “I calm love taking ticket of them, so irrespective of the f–k I change into thinking inspire then, I change into thinking genuine.”
Cantrell provides, “I change into lucky enough to tumble in with some lots of guys that felt the identical scheme I change into feeling, and we made an spectacular genuine racket, and we’re calm doing it. It’s calm magnificent glorious to me that I don’t accept as true with a straight gig, and I gain to jot down tunes for folks and myself, and I gain to mosey magnificent powerful wherever on the planet and stand on the stage for about a folks that repeat as much as see me produce it.”