Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell Names the Best Grunge Guitarist
There were a lot of rock bands that became popular between the mid-1980s and '90s in Seattle, and despite their sonic differences, most of them were categorized under the term grunge. Alice in Chains' Jerry Cantrell has named who he believes is the best guitarist of that era.
“It’s tough to say — everybody’s so unique," Cantrell told Guitar World. "[Soundgarden's] Kim Thayil is crazy. He’s got a crazy style that is unique unto itself. It’s a blend of different styles – super-big and out of control, but right on the fucking edge of coming off the tracks and going right back on. I always admired his playing."
“I always liked [Pearl Jam's] Stone Gossard’s style, too. Super-punk, but also really melodic and based in some kind of regular rock, hard rock, blues-based riffs and stuff," he continued. "[Nirvana's] Kurt Cobain was like a cross between punk and pop. His style had a lot of ferocity, and he wrote super-memorable, simple stuff."
However, the Alice in Chains guitarist stated that if he had to choose one fellow guitar god as his favorite, it would be Thayil.
Both Alice in Chains and Soundgarden were known for having melodic, sludgy guitar riffs in their songs, mainly thanks to drop-D tuning, which Thayil learned from Melvins' Buzz Osborne.
"The sound was immediately... the string was a little bit more flexible, it was heavier," Thayil told us of the first time he experimented with the new tuning. "It was a bit of an epiphany, everyone was like, 'Wow.' It just got us into stimulating our creativity and our songwriting by trying to tune the guitar in a different way and see what came out of it."