Tuesday, September 8, 1998;
According to JamTV's Blair R. Fischer, Alice In Chains are having a little trouble on their latest project, but it's an issue over the behaviour and attitude of producer Dave Jerden, not the usual drugs muckety-muck. Fischer reports that the band, including troubled singer Layne Staley were in a Los Angeles studio August 23 to work on new tracks for an undisclosed future release (possibly a box set) with Jerden, who produced AIC's 1992 album Dirt. Despite the fact that this marked the first time in three years the band had assembled in the studio, everything was fine until plans were being made for further recording the next day. That's when Jerden was 'reminded' by Alice In Chains' manager Susan Silver that Staley had a commitment to attend his sister's wedding in Seattle. As a result, the band wanted to keep working overnight and take the next day off completely. Jerden and his engineer Bryan Carlstrom (who also worked on Dirt) objected, voicing concerns about fatigue. It should be noted here that Jerden took on the AIC session as an aside to his current full-time production job on The Offspring's Americana album.
Needless to say, an argument broke out, and the long and the short of the story is that Jerden was notified by telephone a week later that Layne Staley no longer wanted to work with Jerden. Silver made the call, citing Staley's animosity towards Jerden that began in '92. Jerden claims this is due to his constant badgering of Staley about his drink and drug abuse. "Apparently he got all mad at me", Jerden told Fischer. "What's my job as a producer? To produce a record. I'm not getting paid to be Layne's friend." Needless to day, Jerden is off the project, and Toby Wright has been contacted to take the helm. Wright produced both a trio of AIC records (Jar Of Flies, Alice In Chains, Unplugged), as well as guitarist/songwriter Jerry Cantrell's solo album Boggy Depot.
Ironically, Dave Jerden was recently hired by Cantrell (over Wright) to produce his next solo album. Cantrell says he has no plans to remove Jerden from his project just because of the problems on the Alice In Chains session. "I'm having a really good time and I don't see a reason to stop that right now," remarked Cantrell. Silver has since issued a statement criticizing Jerden for trying to "lay blame on everyone around him for something that he was so clearly responsible for". She alleges that Jerden had been advised well in advance of Staley's schedule, and that his involvement with the AIC sessions was a point of concern for the band given the Offspring project's demands on his time. Jerden dropped a nasty and suggestive bomb at the end of all this nonsense, commenting that Staley "weighed eighty pounds...and was white as a ghost" in the studio. What a tangled web, eh?
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