An Interview With: William DuVall

Posted: Monday 24 February 2020

William DuVall might be best known as a hard rock superstar, having fronted Alice In Chains since 2006, but now he’s stepping out of his comfort zone with his debut solo album, One Alone.

Stripping things right back to just him and his guitar, this is his most intimate and raw work to date. Ahead of his UK tour supporting the album, we caught up with him to find out about his new path as a solo artist and what inspired him to make the change.

2019 saw the release of your debut solo album – why does now feel like the right time to move forward with your solo career?

Having now done three albums and numerous world tours with Alice In Chains, as well as the Giraffe Tongue Orchestra album in 2016 and the catalogue of work (four full-length albums, an EP, and a live DVD) that I’ve done with Comes With The Fall, it seemed like the right time to do something completely different. The One Alone album definitely fits that description. It’s one voice and one guitar all the way through - not even a background vocal to be heard anywhere. I’ve never done anything like it. I’ve been a band guy since I was fifteen years old. This is as ‘solo' as a solo album can get. As such, it felt only right to simply release it under my own name and call it what it is: William DuVall, One Alone.

It’s a very raw, stripped-back record, with just you and a guitar – was it important to you to not over complicate the songs?

Yes. I wanted to capture the rawest possible performances. I wanted to reveal the essence of these songs and the core of who I am as a singer, songwriter and guitarist.

What were your biggest influences when writing this record?

Dylan, Nick Drake, Lennon/McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Joni Mitchell, Led Zeppelin and many others.

Are there any stories, or messages hiding within these new songs?

Many, and I’m told by listeners that they continue to reveal themselves with repeated listens.

It’s quite the departure from your work with Alice In Chains. How did it feel writing something completely different?

It was extremely gratifying. As the producer and main songwriter of the entire Comes With The Fall catalogue, as well as most of the other albums I made prior to joining Alice In Chains, I’ve always had my own sonic philosophy and language. That was a major factor in me being asked to join Alice In Chains in the first place. It’s great for me to get back to exploring my own sound again and to do so in way that I’ve never done before, (as a solo acoustic performer), makes it extra special.

Has it made you re-think your live performances? Is it a different energy performing these songs compared to your previous material?

Definitely. Performing solo acoustic forces me to re-think everything. It’s a very different energy indeed. It requires an entirely different approach and attitude. That’s part of what makes it so exciting.

Do you feel comfortable as a solo performer now, without a full band behind you?

It’s nerve-wracking but also exhilarating. I’m still in the process of becoming 'comfortable'. Then again, I suspect there’s a limit to the comfort level that one could ever count upon when getting onstage, particularly in a solo acoustic setting.

Your UK shows will take you back to some more intimate venues, are you excited to get up close with your fans again?

Absolutely. The shows I’ve played in America so far have been some of the most gratifying of my entire career. The immediacy of the connection with the audience in those intimate listening rooms is unlike anything else and my sense of satisfaction goes beyond the performances themselves. It’s also about hearing the stories people share about how profoundly this music is affecting them, how much it’s helping them in their day-to-day lives. That is really the supreme compliment.

Have you got a favourite song from the new album to play live?

It changes from night to night. On a Monday night in Denver, it might be 'No Need To Wonder' and on a Saturday night in Newcastle, it might be '‘Til The Light Guides Me Home'.

Is your solo work very much your focus right now, or will you be working on new Alice In Chains music simultaneously?

My solo work is the focus at the moment, but I foresee my solo work and my work in Alice In Chains co-existing very nicely over the long haul.

If you want to see William DuVall like you've never seen him before, then don't miss him on his intimate live run:

O2 Academy Newcastle: Saturday 28 March Buy Tickets

Arts Club, Liverpool: Sunday 29 March Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Birmingham: Tuesday 31 March Buy Tickets

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