by Andy Secher, (Date unknown);
HP = Hit Parader
LS = Layne Staley
MI = Mike Inez
"Vibe" is a word that seems to follow Alice In Chains around like a stray dog. Everyone even remotely connected with this Seattle-based quartet always wonders about the vibe the band is in on any given day. They wonder about the vibe being given off by lead vocalist Layne Staley. And they wonder about the vibe of the fans that pack concert halls around the world to see these platinum-selling stars. Today, as AIC completes a U.S. tour as the opening act for Metallica, the vibe around them seems to be incredibly positive. The rumors of chemical dependency, of bad blood between group members and of possible problems with their record label have been squelched for the most part, and now everything seems to be sweetness-and-light in the world of Staley, guitarist Jerry Cantrell, bassist Mike Inez and drummer Sean Kinney. Recently we sat down with Inez and Staley to discuss the band's tour with Metallica, the success of their EP, Jar Of Flies, and other AIC matters.
HP: How surprised were you by the success enjoyed by Jar Of Flies?
MI I think we were all a little surprised because it wasn't supposed to be a big deal. It was one of those things where we just went into the studio because we had some ideas and a little free time. We knew it was going to be different than anything we had on our two albums, and we were never sure if the songs would ever even be released. We just did 'em, played 'em for the label, and they kind of took things from there. The moment they heard the songs, they loved 'em; perhaps that should have given us a clue that there was something really special there.
LS: We just make music for ourselves. It's nice that a lot of people have gotten into it, but that wasn't the point - especially with Jar Of Flies. If those songs had never seen the light of day, if we had just done them for ourselves, that still would have been cool with me.
HP: How mind-blowing was it when you learned it hit the charts at Number One?
MI:That was incredibly exciting. We never think about this band as a big, "top-of-the-charts" kind of band. And that was especially true considering how we made the EP. It was something that just happened - something not even planned. So to see it sitting on the top was a double surprise for everyone.
HP: There always seems to be so many rumors floating around about Alice In Chains. So those bother you?
LS: They can't bother you when you don't hear 'em (laughs.) Who's passing around these rumors? Who's hearing 'em? We're not.
MI: I hear them occasionally, and they tend to be really strange. It reminds me of that game you used to play as a kid where you'd say something to one friend, and by the time it got by 20 other people and had been completely changed. That's the way it is in rock and roll sometimes. People like to talk, they like to gossip. It doesn't mean that any of it is true. Take it from us; usually it's not.
HP: But you must admit that usually the old "where there's smoke there's fire" axiom hold true.
MI: Everyone can believe what they want. We've been pretty up-front about things. When we had to cancel a few shows last year, we told everyone why. But that's not good enough for most people. You can tell 'em the truth, and if it's not juicy enough for them, they'll make it sound better. I guess that's just human nature, but sometimes it really isn't that nice.
LS: Not nice? It sucks!
HP: Tell us about your tour with Metallica? How has that gone?
MI: It's been great. It is a real nice experience to spend time on the road with people you like and respect. The people in Metallica are the most down-to-earth guys you'll ever meet. If you didn't know who they were, they never give off this "we're rock stars" attitude. I really respect them for that because, let's face it, they certainly have the right to have an attitude.
LS: They're good people and their fans have reacted very well to us. I heard some people wondering about that because they don't always have a support act. And then the people who come to see Metallica usually don't want to bothered with anyone else. But they've been real good to us. Their fans know our material and they've responded.
HP: Are you playing mostly material from Jar Of Flies or are you playing your heavier material as well?
MI: We're cramming as much as we can into our set (laughs.) We don't have that much time on stage because we are opening the show. That's taken a little getting used to for us, but it's okay. We're doing a little bit of everything. I know we're looking forward to getting back to a headlining situation - maybe after our next album comes out - so that we can really get into playing everything. We'll have three albums and a couple of EPs by then...should be a good show.
HP: You mention our next album. When might you get to work on that?
LS: We're always writing down things and working on song ideas, so material is never a problem. But we want to make sure it'll be a really good record that goes some different places than what we've already done. But I'd like to think it'll be done by the end of the year.
MI: I think the end of the year sounds reasonable. Of course, that doesn't mean that the label will release it right away. But considering how the last few things we've released have done, I'm sure they'll get it out at the best time of year. That's one of the good parts about a little success - you know that everybody starts caring about what you're doing.