Exclusive: Jerry Cantrell and Sean Kinney of Alice In Chains Talk Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival
By: Rick Florino
The Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival will play host to two legends on the main stage this year. Leading the festival are none other than Alice In Chains and Jane’s Addiction. They remain two of the most seminal and influential bands in rock history, and their imprint is all over the genre. Their pairing is also monumental for rock music right now.
Alice In Chains will be dropping their brand new album, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here on May 28, so you’ll have plenty of time to get familiar with the latest record before the Festival kicks off. However, they’ll undoubtedly be unloading an arsenal of classics as well.
In this exclusive interview, UPROAR’s Rick Florino speaks to Jerry Cantrell and Sean Kinney of Alice In Chains during the first interview about the festival!
What attracted you to the Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival? Do you feel like there’s an old school vibe a la the original Lollapalooza you played?
Jerry Cantrell: It’s cool! Like we always do, we make everything up as we go along. We wanted to go out with another really great band. Jane’s Addiction is a band we’ve always really admired. I remember during our early days those guys would come through town. They were so fucking badass. Those first couple of Jane’s Addiction records are so important to me and even more so to Sean. I remember going to The Moore [Theatre] and The Paramount and thinking, “What the fuck is this?”
Sean Kinney: They’re a game changer. They made a couple of classic records that hold up. Once again, there’s nobody like them. We’ve known each other over the years. Either we were going to tour on our own or do this.
What did you dig about the festival’s setup?
Sean Kinney: It’s a pre-existing system. They’ve been doing it for years, and it’s all set up. It makes things smoother all around.
Jerry Cantrell: It seemed to make sense. The lineup was good. So, we were like, “Yes!”
Sean Kinney: There are more bands and stuff. There’s a whole fine-tuned system, and it works.
Does being on a festival allow you to focus on just putting on a great show rather than worrying about the other concerns inherent of your own tour?
Jerry Cantrell: The reality is it’s really fucking hard to operate on your own. There are bits of rarefied air. It doesn’t matter who the fuck’s playing with you, it’s pretty rare to sell out a goddamn stadium. From a business standpoint, there’s that. There’s much more power in having a couple of bands together, going out and presenting a show that packs a lot of punch. You know what I mean? From a consumer standpoint, the fan is getting a lot more bang for his or her buck too. You’re bringing a festival atmosphere around. Sometimes, that gets to be too much though.
Jerry Cantrell: You know those festivals that start at 11 AM and go until 2am. That’s fucking too much. You can only do that like once a year. UPROAR is the perfect time span. I’m just saying that’s a lot to take in. Look at it from a kid’s point of view. He’s not just getting to do his thing with a whole bunch of shit going on. It’s cool.
Sean Kinney: It was more radio rock-oriented and heavy rock-oriented before. I like the fact they were willing to change. That diversity was appealing to us. We helped out with that. For us to do this, we’d love to make it more dynamic. We like going that kind of shit. You go to something and get turned on to all of this different music. Variety is important. It’s a crime to pigeonhole yourself into one idea or kind of music. If you’re like, “I only listen to metal, man,” I think you’re missing out. I really do. I think there’s a lot of great stuff out there that will broaden your musical taste. On this tour, you may not dig everything, but you might be surprised and run across something really great. The second stage allows some bands to get some exposure to.
What are some of your best festival experiences?
Jerry Cantrell: Well, some of the cooler festivals we’ve ever done are where the lineup is so fucking diverse like Roskilde or things we’ve done in Spain.
Sean Kinney: It’s cool to stick out like a sore thumb [Laughs]. We straddle a lot of different lines. Nobody has ever known what to do with this band ever. When the band came out, there was no fucking grunge or any of this shit. They invented it! They’d be like, “You’re metal, alterna-metal, rock-alterna, whatever!” They never knew what the fuck to call us.
Jerry Cantrell: We weren’t grunge. Then, we were grunge. We weren’t alternative. Then, we were alternative.
Sean Kinney: We’re just a rock band. We’ve got our own sound, and that’s all that matters. That’s the most important thing.