Off The Record: Jerry Cantrell Finds A Way To Atone

When 2019 was coming to a close, the iconic ‘90s rock band, Alice In Chains, was finishing up a world tour and getting ready for some well-deserved time away from the road.

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“We had just finished the Rainier Fog tour—generally by that time, you take a break,” lead guitarist and songwriter, Jerry Cantrell, tells American Songwriter. “So, we were planning on taking that year off anyway.”

But in a serendipitous move (considering the looming pandemic), Cantrell decided to do something pretty out of the ordinary before taking his break: in December 2019, he booked himself two shows in Los Angeles to play some of his solo material. Gathering a band and working up some of his songs (many of which he hadn’t played in nearly two decades), he ultimately had so much fun that it ushered in a whole new creative period.

By the time the world started shutting down due to COVID-19 just a few months later, Cantrell was already well into making his new solo album, Brighten (due in October 2021). This past July, the 55-year-old unveiled the record’s first single, “Atone.”

Recently, Cantrell met up with American Songwriter in Nashville to sit down for the latest installment of our Off The Record series. Talking about his influences, his style, his approach to making this record, and more (including a great story about getting Elton John’s personal permission to include a cover of one of his songs), the conversation was a fascinating peek into one of the minds that definitely helped shape the modern rock landscape.

Watch the interview below:

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