Hit Parader '92
To many of today's music fans, Alice In Chains is just another one of Seattle's ever-popular grunge rock bands. However true, Alice In Chains is riding a wave of popularity soon to be tested after their successful Columbia debut album Facelift, which featured the Billboard Top Twenty hit, Man In The Box.
According to bassist Mike Starr the style of their second full album, Dirt, is "heavier, heavier and more demented. But nowadays that's more commercial that sells! Although people don't get that yet... People like Nelson don't get it. The pure fact that Alice In Chains' appeal is primal and a bit angry has given us an advantage."
Alice In Chains was formed three years ago, when these four Seattle residents decided to join forces and combine their individual talents. Their frustrations and "incredibly hectic" times through the years became lyrical topics in their intense style of music. This history, when added to a seemingly innocent confusion about life's contradictions, serves to fuel a great deal of Alice In Chains' ideas for material.
"The writers of the songs on this album are all of us," Starr explains. "I wrote four, (guitarist) Jerry Cantrell wrote six or seven, (vocalist) Layne Staley wrote two, (drummer) Sean Kinney wrote a couple. But a lot of them are collaborations. I wrote a couple with Jerry... we share the writing." Starr confesses that his favorites are new songs Hear the Voices, Zem (sic. Them) Bones, and Rooster.
Starr credits "...real life, on the bus, gettin' angry, " with being the impetus behind the new material. "You get angry, you write a song, or we get happy and we write a song like the Nelsons!"
Adding more levels to their notoriety, Alice In Chains recently played a "rowdy bar band" in the Cameron Crowe film Singles, starring Matt Dillon. In late May, the video was made in Seattle for Would? a song which appears on the soundtrack. This song is about Andy Wood, the poetic and extremely talented lead singer of Seattle's Mother Love Bone, who tragically died from an accidental and acute overdose of opiates on March 16, 1990.
Regarding a video's indisputable advantages for a song, and (in this case) a movie, Starr comments on MTV's past treatment of the band. "They forgot about us, but it don't (sic didn't or doesn't) matter. I understand that. We buried our own album anyways. Sony wanted to make another video... but we wanted to bury the album just because we didn't want to hear it anymore. We could've gone platinum with a fourth video, but we decided not to. We decided to bury it and let Dirt take the first album platinum."
As Starr relates, this second album is produced by Dave Jerden. "Sweet gherkin Jerden, as we like to call him! Yes, he worked on our first album, he's worked on all Jayne's (sic. Jane's) Addiction's albums, he mixed the Chili Pepper's Mother's Milk, and he's worked with the Stones, Frank Zappa, Talking Heads, and many other bands." But Alice In Chain's' case he shares the duties, or as Starr puts it, "He lets us do our own thing!"
Replying to questions of his bass sound, Starr replies "I can't tell you 'cause Eddie Jackson and Jason Newstead will steal it! No, Eddie Jackson told me what to do, so I did it, and I do it more than he does it. On the first album, I didn't beat his, but on this album, I...He's gonna listen to the new album and get a stomachache! A for Jason Newstead, Jason called me one day, before Metallica were making their new album and goes, 'How do you get your bass sound Mike?' ... just tell him that I think he topped me, and I think it was great of him to do it, and I'm jealous! But I love my bass sound too," Starr exclaimed.
Remarking on another of Seattle's acts to enter the "signed" music scene in 1992, Starr adds that "Sweetwater's fine, a fine young act. I wish 'em luck. Sometimes they're great live sometimes..." Speaking of other up-and-coming Seattle bands, "...Forced Entry kicks ass" Forced Entry'll be Seattle's next band... and Mudhoney "Write that they have really neat hair. No, I'm just kidding!"
Grunge-rock is definitely not Seattle's only sound!