Alice in Chains, Mastodon and Deftones Reflect on BlackDiamondSkye Tour
GW What do you do when you only have a few minutes for a soundcheck?
KELLIHER Be ready. Be tuned. Get your stuff dialed in the way you think it should sound. You can’t wait until five o’clock. Get your guitar strings on and just hit it.
CANTRELL Just try to be efficient with your time. Go up there and do something heavy and something that’s a little lighter—maybe something that’s got an acoustic in it. Just pick a couple songs that have a nice spread of things you’re gonna need.
KELLIHER Pick a song where everyone’s doing the most at one time, so you can gauge the full spectrum. That way you’ll be like, Oh, shit. I can’t hear what I’m singing. I’m not gonna be on key.
DuVALL It’s good to get all the bad news out of the way first. But these things are very different, depending on whether you’ve got a crew or not, and whether you’re playing arenas or the bar down the street. For me, I went literally from one extreme to another. When I was in all these hardcore bands, I was loading my own stuff up the steps and playing places where it’s as raw as it could possibly be and you don’t have your own sound guy. In those instances where you’re really a club band, you just have to let each guy soundcheck one at a time, and stay silent while they’re doing it. Let your drummer do his thing, then do the same thing with the bass player and the guitar player. And then you all make noise together to see what’s going on.
HINDS That doesn’t work with my band. Me and Bill are always up there ripping over each other. I don’t even know he’s even on the stage, and it doesn’t even bother us anymore.
GW Are there problems that you’ve dealt with on the road that don’t involve music?
CANTRELL Being a traveling musician is a veritable parade of insanity. Anything and everything that you can imagine happens. But the comedy factor is part of what’s appealing— the stupidity of it, the ability to not take yourself too seriously and just go with the flow and adapt and overcome like a marine. You’re in all these weird situations, but you’re with your bros, man, so you’ve got something to laugh about every day.
DuVALL It is kind of like comedy when you’re in a band like Alice in Chains and you’re on your way to a radio interview in London, and the traffic is so bad that you end up getting out of the car and walking, parading down the street like the Monkees.
GW What are some particular problems you’ve encounter in clubs?
KELLIHER When people get onstage and try to sing along and step all over your pedal board—that really sucks. Once I started the first song and I felt like somebody punched me square in the mouth. A dude had hit the microphone stand and the mic went right into my teeth. I just saw stars and let go of my guitar. And they’re still dancing, having a great time.
CANTRELL There’s always one guy at the gig who’s gonna wing something at you. I don’t care where you play, there’ll be one guy who thinks it’s a great idea to throw a shoe or a beer or a bottle. Who knows what they’re thinking? It’s like, You’re gonna go home with one shoe?
KELLIHER When the show’s over, there’s always 300 left shoes on the floor.
HINDS I once got hit with a half-eaten Snickers bar.
GW Do you ignore the antagonists, or when someone throws something is it confrontation time?
HINDS I’d rather have that than verbal abuse any day. When people yell, “Faggot!” I hate that. I just wanna kill ’em.
DuVALL I think, generally speaking, it’s better to underplay it. Don’t give ’em that much power. The only time it gets weird is if somebody in the crowd might be getting hurt.
CANTRELL I agree, but occasionally I’ve been hit with some shit, and it fuckin’ hurts, man. We played in New York at the Nokia. It was a great sold-out show, and everyone was into it. We’re coming up to the end, and some fuckin’ asshole throws a full, unopened Heineken, and it hits me right in the ankle. I could barely stand for the rest of that show. I’m lucky it didn’t break a bone. And at that point it was like, Really, man? You’re gonna fuckin’ throw something and hurt me. You came to see me, I’m here to play, and you’re gonna throw a can at me?
DuVALL We were playing a racetrack, and Jerry got hit in the face with a shoe. We’re playing “Man in the Box” and, all of a sudden, there’s no guitar solo. I turn around and he was gone. He was offstage.
CANTRELL It was the last song. It sucks to wreck it for everybody else, and most of the time I’ll fuckin’ play through it. But at some point it’s so ridiculous. It’s like, Fuck you, man. That’s it. I’m out.
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