How did Alice In Chains impact you? Can you share some seminal memories? What are some favorite songs are records?
Corey Taylor of Slipknot & Stone Sour
Corey Taylor: I’ve just been a huge, diehard Alice In Chains for as long as I can remember. I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say it. I feel like they’re responsible for the way that I write. “Would?” is one of my all-time favorite songs in history. When I heard “Would?” for the first time, it showed me that anything was possible within music. You could really do anything, and there were no rules. Growing up, I was so into punk. In the alternative world, there was a sentiment that you had to write a certain way. “Would?” came out, and it hit me right in the face. My first reaction was, “This could very well be one of the greatest songs ever written!” Dirt is an album with so many ghosts, and they’re very real and alive. They’ll always be one of my favorite bands. I can’t wait to hear the new record. I still love Black Gives Way to Blue too.
Brian “Head” Welch of Korn & Love and Death
Brian “Head” Welch: I’m a huge Alice In Chains fan. When I first heard “Man in the Box”, I wanted to be the writer of that riff so badly. That was a couple years before Korn, but it felt like a long time to me. I wasn’t even really playing music. I was just a roadie for Munky and his little bands. When I heard “Man in the Box”, I was like, “I wish I could write music like that!” Luckily, a couple of years later, we started coming up with our own music. Facelift was so great. They’re still going strong. They had a total rebirth, and it’s awesome. Playing with them at Rock on the Range, I feel like I’m Wayne’s World—”I’m not worthy” [Laughs].
Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society and Ozzy Osbourne
Zakk Wylde: The first time I heard Jerry Cantrell and the boys was “Man in the Box”. Then, there was “Sea of Sorrow”. I was like, “Dude, this stuff’s awesome!” They played Long Beach Arena in 1989 on some metal thing with Lynch Mob. I saw them there on Facelift, and it was way cool. All of their records are cool. They’re like Led Zeppelin records because they’re all different. I remember the first time Jerry played meDirt in the back of the tour bus. They were out with us on an Ozzy Osbourne tour. I was like, “Dude, this is fucking ridiculous!” To me, that’s their Led Zeppelin IV, Back in Black, or The Black Album. For every band, the stars align on that record, and they’re primed and geared for that next jump. From beginning to the end, everything about that record is incredible.
Barrett Martin of Mad Season & Screaming Trees
Barrett Martin: I actually did not see Alice In Chains in the very early Seattle years. They played a different circuit of clubs than the grunge bands did. Early Alice In Chains was a little more glam, and it leaned more towards what you might call “Hollywood”. They were a bit more metal, and their image was different from the grunge bands. The clubs they played were also different. I played in some punk bands and some early grunge bands, and we played downtown Seattle and the clubs in the middle of the city. Alice In Chains were playing out in the suburbs a little bit. I heard Facelift, and I thought there were some good tracks. I felt like those guys were on to something. Then, I got an advance copy of Dirt. I thought, “Wow, this is the record that’s going to break them”. That was their big record. The first time I saw them was the night Screaming Trees played in Hamburg with them. That was the first show of the world tour we did with them. It started in Germany. Here’s what I do remember about Layne. I stood on the stage every night and watch the show. His voice was so powerful back then. On the side of the stage, most of what you hear is the guitars and drums, but Layne’s voice was so loud. You could hear him singing out of his body more than anything else. His acoustic voice commanded the stage as much as any of the other instruments. He really had a set of pipes and could push it out
Ivan Moody of Five Finger Death Punch
Ivan Moody: Alice In Chains truly shaped me. They’re one of my biggest influences, and they will be forever. I come back to Dirt all the time. Jar of Flies is one of my all-time favorite CDs. The lyrics on both of those records are just so haunting and so powerful. Layne was one of a kind.
Ville Valo of HIM
Ville Valo: I missed their gig because I was under age [Laughs]. They played Helsinki right when Dirt came out back in 1992. Screaming Trees were the support. It was just when Screaming Trees had released Sweet Oblivion, which is one of my favorite grunge-y albums. Mark Lanegan is one of my favorite singers as well. I missed the show because I was 16- or 17-years-old at the time. I got to meet the guys later on, now that they’ve regrouped. We played some gigs, and William DuVall has come to see us a couple of times when we played in the States. Dirt was huge for me. It’s fucked up if you think of the whole record. It’s filled with really odd stuff like “Angry Chair”. People remember them from “Them Bones” and the more rock-y numbers, but they had a lot of weirdness too. They had long mood-y pieces that were definitely against the grain, similar to Jane’s Addiction. I love “Would?”, but “Down in a Hole” is one of my favorite slow super melancholy doom-y numbers of all time.
David Draiman of Disturbed & Device
David Draiman: I remember “Man in the Box” used to be the test song for tryouts when I was auditioning for bands prior to Disturbed [Laughs]. It was around the time that Facelift came out, and that song was big. Everybody was so blown away by Layne’s vocals. It was like, “Okay, if you can hit that chorus, then you’re somebody!” I remember singing it at a hundred different auditions. It’s unbelievable. I’ll always love them.
Greg Puciato of The Dillinger Escape Plan
Greg Puciato: I was the biggest Metallica fan ever, and I was waiting for the debut of “Enter Sandman”. I was ten- or eleven-years-old, and I was watching MTV constantly for two things. I was waiting for “You Could Be Mine” and “Enter Sandman”. Use Your Illusion, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and The Black Album all came out during the same summer. What I didn’t know was that I was going to get blindsided by all of this other cool shit, while I was waiting for all of that other stuff to come out. That was when Nirvana’s Nevermind arrived, and Pearl Jam started happening. I found Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. I actually remembering sitting on my parents’ couch watching MTV, waiting for the world premiere of “Enter Sandman”, and seeing “Man in the Box”. I was like, “This is really weird. There’s a person with his eyes sewn shut. It’s really cool!” I didn’t get into them on that record though. When Dirt was released, I was in the throes of grunge-dom. Singles happened, and “Would?” was such a huge song. I was a massive fan from that point forward. Again, Dirt is a perfect record.
Zachary Carothers of Portugal. The Man
Zachary Carothers: I was definitely an Alice In Chains fan! My cousin and I used to cover a few songs live back in the day. I dug into the Seattle scene. All of that music made a huge difference in my life. I’ve heard comparisons between my playing and Mike Inez’s before. It’s definitely not a conscious thing. Subconsciously, I always did love his bass playing.
Aaron Lewis of Staind
Aaron Lewis: The first time I heard them was Facelift. I remember seeing them at Lollapalooza the same year Rage Against the Machine played at like one in the afternoon. Tool was on at like four. Alice in Chains was on at six. Red Hot Chili Peppers headlined. It was in Hartford. There fires burning. People were ripping the fence down at the back of the venue and lighting it on fire. They ripped up all the grass and were throwing huge chunks of sod. It’s stuff you just don’t see at a country show [Laughs]. Live, it was Layne Staley’s uncaring, stoic persona that hit me. He stood there with those big fly glasses on and the black leather jacket holding the microphone and the stand with one hand on each. That was it for the whole set. Every single song they played was awesome. They fucking killed it. Layne’s lyrics were massive for me. It was much more self-inflicting. It was much more introspective and not necessarily observational poetry. He was baring his soul when he wrote. I’ve been playing his songs myself for the past 20 years.
Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach
Jacoby Shaddix: I was probably fifteen-years-old the first time I heard Alice In Chains. They were one of the bands that crossed grunge with dark, doom rock. It was like, “Let me a brown weed joint, listen to Alice In Chains, and freak the fuck out”. [Laughs] I can’t wait to see them at Rock on the Range.
Jeff Kendrick of DevilDriver and Founder, AllAxess.com
Jeff Kendrick: I first heard “Man in the Box” in 1991 on WAAF in Boston. I’ve been hooked since. There is something so magical about their music, their approach to writing, and their sound. Their music has profoundly dark textures and hypnotic elements. Regardless of their very simple approach, they have many layers and sub-layers of melody, harmony and groove. They embody kick-ass heavy rock that no one was better at. Countless musicians, including myself, have been influenced and mesmerized by this Seattle titan since the nineties. I feel that Dirt is the quintessential record from this band and is one of my all-time favorite albums.
Robb Flynn of Machine Head
Robb Flynn: I love Alice In Chains, man. That hazy, psychedelic shit really got me. Dirt was so fucking good. I remember listening to it a ton.
Gustav Wood of Young Guns
Gustav Wood: The first time I heard them I remember thinking there was something really strange about Layne Staley’s voice. It was almost unsettling. They didn’t have the pop sensibility that Nirvana did. Nirvana was so Beatles-esque. Alice In Chains were more on the metal side. My brother thought Layne was king, so I couldn’t get away from them [Laughs].
- Alice in Chains was a glam band in its earliest days. What led to your transition?
We were all kids, coming out of the decade of Guns N’ Roses and hair metal. Everyone starts somewhere, and we were lucky enough to find ourselves as a band before we put our first record out. The glam inspiration was just a result of the times we were living in, and we have no reason to regret it.
Jerry Cantrell (Guitar Magazine, 2004)
Mike McCready, speaking to Spin.com about the upcoming reissue of Mad Season’s Above