William DuVall (born September 6, 1967 in Atlanta, Georgia) is an American musician, best known as being the current vocalist and a co-guitarist in the hard rock group Alice in Chains replacing original vocalist Layne Staley, who died in 2002. DuVall joined Alice in Chains in 2006, and he appears on the 2009 album Black Gives Way to Blue as well as the 2013 follow-up The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here.
DuVall is also co-founder, lead singer, guitarist and lyricist for Comes with the Fall. In his long musical career, DuVall has played a role in many bands playing in a variety of genres, an example being the influential punk rock group Neon Christ.
Early career (1983-1992):
DuVall's music career started in the early 1980s Atlanta hardcore punk scene. He first performed with Awareness Void of Chaos.
In 1983, DuVall helped found the controversial Atlanta-based hardcore punk band Neon Christ, contributing guitars and lyrics to the band's albums. Other members of this band were vocalist Randy DuTeau, bassist Danny Lankford, and drummer Jimmy Demer. Neon Christ had strong ties to hardcore luminaries Corrosion of Conformity and Bl'ast. With a couple of short East Coast tours and two albums, the politically-pointed band started gaining popularity. The band used its popularity to support many charitable causes including working to free Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
The band disbanded in 1986, reuniting for a one-time show featuring the original members on December 24, 2004. Currently, the members are said to be filming a documentary, which concluded with a February 2, 2008 show at Lawrenceville, Georgia's punk haunt The Treehouse.
After Neon Christ originally broke up, DuVall was briefly the second guitarist in the popular Northern California hardcore punk band Bl'ast, contributing a small bit of writing to their second album, It's In My Blood, released on the hardcore punk-alternative label SST Records, founded by Greg Ginn of hardcore punk band Black Flag. DuVall did not, however, stay with the band long enough to record on the album.
In 1987, DuVall formed the Final Offering with vocalist Randy Gue (a former Neon Christ roadie),Corrosion of Conformity bassist Mike Dean and drummer Greg Psomas. However, Psomas's heroin habit hindered them from working consistently. Dean would go back to work with Corrosion of Conformity; Psomas died of an overdose in 1994.
DuVall spent the late 1980s with a Jimi Hendrix-inspired band, No Walls. Other members of this band were jazz bassist Hank Schroy and drummer Matthew Cowley. They released one album in 1992. He also spent the late 1980s in college earning a degree in philosophy, with a specialization in religion.
Mid career (1992-2007):
In 1994, DuVall co-wrote the song "I Know" for fellow Atlanta musician Grammy-nominated Dionne Farris; this song won DuVall an ASCAP award.
In the late 90s, DuVall founded the band Madfly with Nico Constantine, Bevan Davies and Jeffery Blount. He served as guitarist, singer and songwriter. Their efforts included two albums, Get the Silver and White Hot in the Black, the former was released on Killing Floor Recordings, the latter through Blackheart Records and distributed nationally by Mercury Records/PolyGram.
1999 found DuVall, Bevan, and Nico moving on to form Comes With The Fall, adding Adam Stanger as bassist. CWTF released their first cd Comes with the Fall in 2000, and their second cd The Year is One in 2001. CWTF began touring as both the opening band and as part of Jerry Cantrell's solo band for his Degradation Trip tours in 2001 and 2002. Follow up releases: Live 2002 cd, companion to their Live Underground 2002 DVD; The Reckoning ep in 2006 and Beyond the Last Light cd in 2007. CWTF's entire catalog was produced by William's DVL Recordings label.
Present career (2007-present):
Quickly becoming Cantrell's go-to man, DuVall and Cantrell's musical collaborations led to DuVall joining Cantrell's band Alice in Chains, replacing Layne Staley, who died in 2002.
Initially, Cantrell and the other veteran members of Alice in Chains had said this reunion didn't necessarily foretell a future for the band and that this was just a tribute to Staley and their fans. Drummer Sean Kinney went further, saying at that time he would have liked to change the name and adding, "I don't see continuing as Alice and replacing somebody." DuVall expressed similar sentiments with regards to the task of filling in for Staley:
"If there had been that one formal discussion saying, 'Would you like to help us resurrect Alice in Chains?' I would have thought twice. But we were just playing for the fans who care about it and hadn't seen it in a long time. For all we knew it was going to be one more victory lap and goodbye."
However, the reformed Alice in Chains generated enthusiasm from their fans to convince them to keep the name. DuVall claims to have met Staley's family, who have all purportedly given the band their blessing:
"I never met Layne though, but I met his family. I met his mom, it was right after he died, when we played Seattle. There was a lot of people at the show, obviously very sort of heavy - Chris Cornell is standing on my side of the stage all night, like right where I have to go change guitars, that guy is in my way every time...I had to like, Jedi mind trick myself: 'He is not there.' It was weird because I slashed my hand open during the first or second song, I was bleeding all over the place and I was just like: 'Oh God - it's gonna be one of those.' One of those nights where it's just not effortless; where everything is going to be crazy, I'm tangled up in my cord, and all kinds of things going on. And Cornell is standing there. Ann and Nancy Wilson came out, they sang a song, I'm sharing a mic with Ann Wilson. Then after the show, there's all these people hanging out, and Layne's mother comes up to me and takes both my hands and she's crying her eyes out and was like 'We're so proud of you!' It was just too low to get under...it was like 'Whoa - okay.' You can't let it sink in."
In 2007, Alice in Chains began touring with Velvet Revolver and Kill Hannah. The ReEvolution tour was in two parts. The first took in many European cities and the Eastern United States. The second part, also referred to as "The Libertad Tour", is primarily a cross-country tour that spread into three cities in Canada. For the first time in 15 years Alice In Chains toured Australia as second headliner under Nine Inch Nails on the Soundwave Festival. Personally, it was DuVall's first visit to Australia. It had since been advertised on the official Alice in Chains website that the band - now with DuVall officially noted as lead singer - was working on new material with an album, now known as Black Gives Way to Blue, released on September 29, 2009.
In 2008 he performed vocal duties with MC5/DTK at the Meltdown Festival curated by Massive Attack.
In 2011, Alice in Chains took time off after touring more than 30 countries and mourning the death of their original bass player Mike Starr, according to his long-time replacement Mike Inez. However, DuVall stated that there was a possibility of another album in the near future, commenting, "It would be fairly safe to say that you don't come this far and do all this work just to stop for another 15 years." In March, it was announced that Alice in Chains would begin recording a new album at the tail end of 2011. In May 2013, the album The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here was released.
In the meantime, DuVall has reunited with his former Neon Christ bandmates to do a documentary film called All Alone Together: Neon Christ and Atlanta Hardcore, which he said director Edgar Johnson had first pitched to him back in 2005.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license