Long before Jerry Cantrell became the guitarist and songwriter for Alice in Chains, he was a fan of the Seahawks.
No, make that fanatic.
That was in 1976, when Cantrell was a 10-year-old living Spanaway and the NFL had just awarded an expansion franchise to Seattle.
Cantrell’s worlds will intersect on Sunday, when Alice in Chains performs at halftime of the NFC Championship game between the Seahawks and Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field.
“It’s an honor to be asked to take part in anything to do with the Seahawks,” Cantrell said this week. “I’m always happy to show up and lend a helping hand, absolutely.”
And it’s fitting, because Alice in Chains was one of the Mount Rushmore of bands that emerged from the Seattle scene in the 1990s to rock the world – along with Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.
The band’s lineup has changed – with William DuVall replacing the late Layne Staley on vocals and Mike Inez replacing the late Mike Starr on bass; along with Sean Kinney on drums and Cantrell – but not the success of the band. Alice in Chains’ world tour in support of their Grammy-nominated album “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here” wrapped up in late August.
And the timing was perfect for their guitar-shredding Seahawks fan.
“We’ve just been taking the winter off, so it’s been kind of nice to be around for the football season,” he said. “I was up for the game last weekend.”
Cantrell also attended Super Bowl XL in Detroit after the 2005 season, when the Seahawks played the Pittsburgh Steelers. He and Matt Cameron from Pearl Jam raised the 12 Flag above the South end zone at CenturyLink Field prior to the kickoff against the Chicago Bears in 2007. And Alice in Chains performed “Kashmir” at halftime of a game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Cantrell was “well into football,” as he put it, by the time the Seahawks arrived in Seattle and his favorite team had been the Pittsburgh Steelers. He and Duff McKagen, another Seattle-born musician and Seahawks fan, attended Super Bowl XL together.
“I thought it was the best thing ever, because both my favorite teams were playing each other in the Super Bowl,” Cantrell said. He then added with a laugh, “Until I got there and the game actually started. Then I realized it was the worst thing ever because one of them had to lose.”
So Cantrell is hardly a 12-come-lately. In fact, talking to him is like having a discussion with an avid fan – which Cantrell is.
He rattles through details of the franchise’s history, from the first generation of glory years under Chuck Knox in the 1980s to the impressive run under coach Mike Holmgren in the mid-2000s. He laments the officiating in Super Bowl XL, as well as the loss to the Los Angeles Raiders in the 1983 AFC Championship game. He remembers going to a team function before the Seahawks ever played a game with his Big Brother from Big Brother Big Sisters of Puget Sound.
“I remember going to that event and just being really excited that we had our own team to cheer for,” Cantrell said.
And Cantrell is still cheering, after all these years and all these seasons.
As for the current edition of the Seahawks, Cantrell admires the energy with which they play – which makes sense for a musician who does the same.
“When we got Pete Carroll, he started making moves fast and I was like, ‘Wow, this guy is seriously taking charge,’ ” he said. “He really whipped the team into shape and got the players that he needed to be here. He installed the system and (general manager) John Schneider got the personnel for Carroll to coach up.
“I think we’re probably one of the most energetic teams in the league, and have been.”
Spoken like a true 12, who just happens to be a rock star.