In 1995, Alice In Chains had been feeling good on the success of their first #1 album on the charts, 1994’s Jar of Flies EP, the first EP to ever debut at #1. At the same time, they were in peril as a band, with issues stemming from Layne Staley’s addiction to heroin and other band turmoil. The band did not tour to support Jar of Flies as Layne was in rehab and they took part of 1995 off. The lost opportunities from this period, including a massive Metallica/Danzig/Suicidal Tendencies tour and a near-top-of-the bill split at Woodstock 1994 (which I am still mad about) almost killed the band. They broke up briefly too, according to Sean Kinney. Little did we know they were crafting a great album, Alice in Chains (Columbia), to wash all that pain and disappointment away for a brief moment in time.
Alice In Chains was on top of the world in 1993, or so they thought. Behind the success of 1992’s Rock chart-topping Dirt (Columbia) album, the band toured the world, played Lollapalooza, had songs on major movie soundtracks and more. But there were some issues arising in their camp that would shape their immediate future. The bands came off a raucous summer of touring in 1993 to find themselves evicted from their communal house in Seattle. The band had recently fired bassist Mike Starr (RIP)who co-founded the band. After recruiting bassist Mike Inez (Ozzy Osbourne) the band had toured some with him, and recorded a few of those soundtrack pieces with him, but nothing more/ The band moved into London Bridge Studios, where countless huge rock and metal albums were made, and AIC had created all of their albums at that point. The band was going to spend a few days just jamming with acoustic guitars and see what stuck. What they came up with was so much more. When they finished writing, they had the bones of their epic EP Jar of Flies (Columbia) in the can. Continue reading
Even if F. Scott Fitzgerald’s maxim that “There are no second acts in American lives” has anything approaching a ring of truth, then, clearly, no-one told Seattle’s Alice in Chains. It is now sixteen years since the untimely death of the band’s original lead singer Layne Staley, a troubled soul whose battles with drugs and depression were a significant element in their art, most notably on the widely praised and equally widely loved album Dirt. Continue reading
Opening the evening was Seattle band Walking Papers. Known more because of their regular members Duff McKagan and Barrett Martin, this is an act too good to miss. Even down a few guys and playing with some fill-in musicians, the band won over the anxious crowd with incredibly soulful rock music. No BS, no self-depreciation: just rock and proud to be rock. Amazing songs and performances, especially by frontman Jeff Angell, who is incredible. They have a recent EP out from 2018, and you should all go get it now.
With the exception of Metallica, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana, no other band helped shape the tenor of mainstream 1990s rock and metal in terms of influence than Alice In Chains. Twenty-five years ago today the landmark album, Dirt was born via Columbia Records. Not only was it the bands commercial breakthrough, but it was their creative zenith in many ways, establishing them as a leader in the genre. Ghost Cult Magazine takes a look back at the album on the anniversary of its release. Continue reading