In fact, DuVall says it wasn't even until after he'd recorded the first track on his solo debut, One Alone, that it occurred to him to make an entire album. He tells Q104.3 New York's Out of the Box with Jonathan Clarke that the first of two sessions that resulted in the 11-track album was just supposed to be for making a demo. That first song he tracked, "'Til the Light Guides Me Home," wasn't even intended for himself.
"I had written it with the possible intention of giving it to someone else and when I first [had the song idea], it was playing like a record in my head," he says. "It was one of those [quick] songs. ...It is what we live for, and it doesn't happen nearly often enough. But when it does, you just go, 'Okay, I'm in.' And you just let it happen — get out of your own way."
The version of the song that wound up on One Alone was recorded in just a few takes. Rather than go home early that day, DuVall used the remaining few hours to demo seven more tunes. The versions that made the album are the same ones he recorded that very day.
After sitting on the initial crop of songs for a few months, DuVall came around to the idea of making a solo album; he recorded a few more to make it "a proper long player" and when Alice In Chains' finished its touring obligations this year, he started laying the groundwork for the album's October 4 release.
Watch DuVall perform "'Til the Light Guides Me Home" live in-studio in the player below or here.
DuVall supported the record with a North American tour, and he has more live solo dates coming up in February. He says it remains unclear when the Alice In Chains machine will ramp up again, but for now, he's enjoying being a one-man band.
"One of the luxuries of playing without a band — as much as it can be nerve-wracking, it's also liberating because, you really can do whatever the hell you want with your tune," he says. "In the moment you can stop whenever you want, change things up whenever you want, attack a note in a different way, attack a line in a different way, speed up or slow down as you like."
Why he was so intent on giving the "'Til the Light Guides Me Home" to another artist when he first wrote it, remains unclear. Maybe disassociating himself from such personal lyrics allowed him to write more authentically; he's not sure.
"I wasn't really thinking so much about how personal it was," he says. "There was a little bit of a denial defense mechanism thing going on. But again, the song reveals all. When it's right, it's right."
Beyond the performative challenges of playing his solo material live, DuVall says singing his lyrics night after night is giving him more insight into who he really is.
"This is a traveller, right? This is a seeker," he adds, regarding the subject of "'Til the Light Guides Me Home." "He's looking for something that he's not getting and [he] made some mistakes. He's trying to own up to those mistakes and trying to find his way home, you know, literally, and metaphorically."
Watch the full interview in the video player at the top of this page or here.
Here's the official music video for "'Til the Light Guides Me Home":