Alice in Chains, Mastodon and Deftones Reflect on BlackDiamondSkye Tour
GW Can you actually write on the road?
DuVALL I use an iPhone voice record app when I come up with something I don’t want to forget. But for this tour, I’ve also been traveling with a Pro Tools rig, and that’s awesome. If you get your little idea, you can put it on your iPhone, and then you can develop it when you get back to your room.
CARPENTER Come on—ain’t nobody writing music on tour. You get ideas every day, but you ain’t recording ’em, you ain’t arranging ’em. I know I don’t.
CANTRELL I collect riffs. I’m like Stephen. I ain’t writing on the road, either. But when we warm up or play at a soundcheck, I’ll stumble upon something. When that happens, I’ll record it real quick and then move on.
KELLIHER It’s good, because you dump that bag of riffs out when you get back from the tour, and you’ve someplace to start writing from.
GW How do you keep your guitars safe?
KELLIHER I have a Guitar Vault, and I’ve got an Anvil case for my Les Paul.
CANTRELL If you’re carrying a single guitar in a case, there’s always a chance it’s going to get wrecked somewhere. I’ve had a few guitars trashed at airports. Or stolen. And cases get crushed.
GW Have you had any prize possessions destroyed?
CANTRELL The guitar that still kills me that I lost was an Eddie Van Halen Music Man that he gave me. It was a gold-top, and there were only two of them. We toured with them in ’91, and we didn’t have shit. He had the 5150 head that had just come out, and his line of guitars, and I asked him if he could cut me a deal on a guitar. And he said, “Fuck that, I’ll give you one.” I kind of forgot about it. And I came back from tour and I had two guitars and three stacks in my fuckin’ garage: I had a blue Ernie Ball EVH guitar and I had a gold-top. And somehow while it was in storage or in transit, somebody ripped off the gold-top. And beyond the personal value, that guitar is probably worth about $50,000 or $60,000.
GW When you smash a guitar onstage, do you try to make sure it’s not a valuable model?
HINDS No, it’s always my main ax.
CHINO MORENO I’ve stopped myself so many times.
HINDS Yeah, I know, it hurts. But the reason you smash it is because you’re having problems with the guitar and it’s your way of fixing it, really. You’ve already sent it to the luthier, you’ve already put the new nut on there. You’ve worked with this guitar for years, and it does that one fuckin’ thing one time too many, and you go, You know what? You’re going out tonight, buddy. It’s a great show when that happens, too, but I hate losing an awesome guitar. Also you can hurt yourself. In St. Louis, we did this really awesome show, and I did a Babe Ruth up against a wall. It smashed into a million pieces, but I tore my rotator cuff.
CANTRELL The drag is when it’s an accident—when you spin around and you realize you don’t have a headstock anymore. Or you hand your guitar to your tech and he doesn’t grab it, and it breaks on the ground.
DuVALL I don’t want anything to happen to my Les Pauls, so I try not to be rough with them. I used to play Dan Armstrongs, which are pretty much bulletproof. They were great for punk crowds. You’d have skinheads rushing the stage and you’d have to push people back with the harpoon headstock.
And those things are indestructible. I got in a car wreck one time with Mike Dean from C.O.C. We were driving my ’56 Volkswagen across the country together and I let him drive. It was a big mistake. I fell asleep hunched over, and next thing I know, I hear the wheels rolling over the side of the road, and I wake up and look over and Mike’s snoring away. We did a Six Million Dollar Man through the desert. I had everything I owned packed into this car, floor to ceiling. And the Dan Armstrongs flew out of the car. One of them flew out of the case. And when we finally came to a landing, the car ended up on its side. Mike got thrown out and I got trapped underneath. And when I climbed up through the car, the first thing I see is the Dan Armstrong stuck in a sand dune just like Excalibur. I walked over to it, pulled it out of the ground, played it and it was still in tune.
CARPENTER I traded the last Jackson I ever had for the first ESP I ever got. And I did our whole first record on it. Afterward, we were playing in Cleveland, and at the end of this great show I chucked it 20 feet in the air, sound-guy-deep into the crowd. This big old buff dude catches it, and security wrestled this guy down and brought it back to me. I was like, “Man, I just threw it away. I just gave this guitar out.” So I told my guitar guy, “Go give him the case.” And I told security, “Give him the guitar back. You’re ruining the moment!”
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