Layne Staley - The Man with the Voice

Jerry in action
Then take a look at the other AiC sites on the Web... at my


"Who the Fuck is Alice ?!?"

Most of this info I found at other places on the web. The morepart is to be read in the AiC FAQ, go to my LINKPAGE to read it for yourself!

Part I - The members

Layne Staley - Vocals, Guitar
Layne used to play drums, but I guess his singing talent had to show up sooner or later and in AiC he's the main singer. The guy's difficult to figure out, beeing the "mysterious" member of AiC, not much for talking to the press. Of course, who can blame him? I mean, the only thing the press is interested in is his (former?) use of drugs! Layne's got a unique voice and he knows how to use it.

Jerry Cantrell - Guitar, Vocals/Backing vocals, Songwriter
Jerry's one hell of a songwriter and I can't understand how he comes up with one great song after another, and still he never repeats himself! Mainly a guitarist but also completes Layne with backing vocals. Good sense of humour and he seems to love playing live with the band.

Sean Kinney - Drums, Percussion
Don't know much about this guy, really. Does a great work on the drums (he played since he was five years old) and he has also got a good sense of humour. Should have a lot of spare time, since his drum part in the recordings gets ready long before the others' done their part.

Mike Inez - Bass (since '93)
Mike looks like a troll :) Joined the band when they recorded the soundtrack for "Last Action Hero" and besides playing the bass, he likes scuba-diving (according to Sony's biographies). Used to play with Ozzy Osbourne before his glorious days in AiC.

Michael Starr - former bass (up 'til '93)
Starr left Alice after the Dirt album, but did a great job before that. If I recall things right Starr was later caught stealing luggage at an airport. After Alice he formed a band called "Sun Red Sun".

Part II - The band

The band used to call themselves "Fuck", and word says they handed out condoms to the audience with the phrase "Fuck the band" on the wrappers :)) AiC is a Seattle band and although they prefer to call themselves a plain rockband they often get the label "grungeband" right along with Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Nirvana. Even if AiC has got a great number of fans they never got a big breakthrough, like for example Metallica or Nirvana. Maybe that's good in a way, since going commercial often means that the quality of the music takes damage.

Part III - The music

As said before the word "grunge" seems to be made for Alice in Chains. The lyrics are often dark and depressed, with a connection to the shitty reality many people live in most of their lifes. Staley often write songs about drugs, especially on the first two albums, and thats what AiC mostly gets connected to. Layne's voice is unique and full of the rage and pain that the lyrics describe, and Jerry's smoother voice fits right in there backing Layne up. If I got the task to pick one song representative for AiC i would choose "Them Bones" from the album Dirt.

Part IV - Who's Alice?

One of Laynes earlier projects was a band who was to dress up like chicks and play hard rock, and they were to call themselves "Alice in Chains". I don't know if they ever played like that, but anything's possible when Layne's in the mood ;)
Before they came up with the name "Alice in Chains" the band had names like "Fuck" and "Diamond Lie"

Here's a little summary of the records AiC has made this far.

The comments on the records are completely personal and you may happen to think otherwise. It's not complete and is not supposed to be either. There's plenty of other pages with more info than this, but this far I've never seen one with a personal and spontanous view of AiC's music ! And yeah, while I'm at it, all the pictures on this page are taken/borrowed/stolen from other pages on the web... hope noone is offended by this :)
A great THANK YOU! goes to Hugo Trépanier on whose heavenly page I always find something new to use... and thanks to every single one who takes time to come with comments on my page, whether its good or bad critics doesn't matter (well, OK, it does a little ;)

"We Die Young is about gang violence. That was something that was happening in Seattle, something that kinda opened our eyes. It just seemed like things were getting out of hand. Incidents where kids were getting shot, and getting their tennis shoes ripped off their dead bodies. It just seems like these kids are dying at younger and younger ages and getting involved in gang activity."
Layne Staley

This is Alice's first release and by my meaning, the best! You really feel the rage in Layne's voice in songs like "Man in the Box" and "Love, Hate, Love" and there's an indication of a drugproblem in a song called "Real Thing". All the songs sound great live as well, as there's mostly guitars and not much of special effects.
My favourite songs on Facelift:
"Man in the Box", "Sunshine" and "Bleed the Freak"
"We were on tour and the songs on Sap were songs that we had written...and Sean, during the process of working on these songs, had a dream that we had recorded these songs. And since they were a little bit milder than the rest of our material, in his dream the record was called "Sap," because it was sappy."
Layne Staley

SAP is a short record - only four visible songs, don't miss the hidden fifth song ;)
Acoustic guitars, percussion and Layne's voice are the main instruments on this record (OK, there ARE electric guitars in a couple of songs, but they aren't the MAIN instrument). Great songs prove that AiC can make the music without depending on the instruments. "Right turn" is produced by Alice Mudgarden - a mix of people from AiC, Mudhoney and Soundgarden! Ann Wilson of Heart should get credits too, for her background vocals on "Brother".
My favourite songs on SAP:
"Brother", "Got me Wrong", "Right Turn" and "Am I Inside" (that's about all of them :))
"We got famous off singing about a chicken."
Sean Kinney about "Rooster"

DiRT was my first AiC record and I listened to it practically nonstop for half a year after I got it. If you've never heard AiC then this is what you should listen to first. Some really strong songs like "Rooster" and "Them Bones", some drug-related songs like "God Smack" and "Junkhead", and on top of that, one of my personal favourites - the smooth, a bit depressing "Down in a Hole". Most people who enjoys Alice's music like "Would?", but I've never understood what's so great about it, except the fact that Jerry wrote it!
My favourite songs on Dirt:
"Rooster", "Junkhead" and "Down in a Hole"
"The Jar Of Flies thing and the Sap EP, that we put out before, those were just fun things...that's the whole point: just being able to do whatever you want to do."
Jerry Cantrell

Here Alice has deserted the heavy sound and tries a slower kinda style. You can still hear the power behind the instruments. Incredible how these guys can change style and still keep up the good work! The songs contain some great guitarwork and in "I Stay Away" Layne proves that his voice is world class - enjoy! JoF also contains Alice's worst song - "Whale&Wasp", which is an instrumental pain in the ass. (Well, that's MY opinion, listen to it and make up your own mind). Actually all the stuff on this EP were written and recorded in a week!
There's also "JoF CD plus" for use with CD-ROM and on this one you find, except all the songs on the regular JoF, pictures. interviews, movie clips etc, etc. Never seen it, though.
My favourite songs on Jar of Flies:
"Nutshell", "I Stay Away" and "No Excuses"
"We're gonna try to keep doing different things and having fun with it as long as we can."
Jerry Cantrell

Alice in Chains is the name of their newest album, but it's often called Tripod because of the three-legged dog on the cover. Layne Staley doesn't use his powerful voice, but Jerry Cantrell sings with Layne on most songs. This is not a record for people who isn't used to AiC - you can easily get wrong ideas 'bout Alice! I had to listen to it a lot of times before I started enjoying the music, and I still don't cope with some of the songs. "Heaven Beside You", "Over Now" and "Shame in You" are the easiest songs to enjoy, but after a while you get other favourites.
(I hope Layne starts singing on the next record, instead of this mumbling)
My favourite songs on Tripod:
"Shame in You", "God Am" and "Frogs"
Layne:"This is the best show we've done in three years!"
Sean:"This is the only show we've done in three years."

Kinney gives Layne a small hint that its time for a tour...

In the spring of '96 AiC did a session on MTV's Unplugged and the show was aired in Europe at June 29th . The CD was released in Sweden July 29th and I got it that very day. The record contains a mixture of songs from earlier records and one new song called "(The) Killer is Me". One thing that hit me is the fact that the songs from DiRT sounds so great unplugged, and actually "Sludge Factory" from Tripod sounds BETTER unplugged !!! The guys are joking around between the songs and if you turn up the volume it feels like you're actually attending the show :)
Layne and Jerry sing different parts in the vocals and that brings an extra boost to already fabulous songs. Mike's bass sounds awesome (for example the intro of "Would?") and Kinney's doing a great job on the drums (when he joins in "Rooster" I just can't control myself :)
My favourite songs on Unplugged:
"Down in a Hole", "Angry Chair" and "Sludge Factory"
Layne: "I used to walk six miles barefoot in the snow, to school. Did you know that?"
Someone in the audience screams: "Uphill !"
Layne: "Uphill. Good answer !" (smiling)

A little talk before kicking into "Love, Hate, Love" on Live & Unchained

There are a number of bootlegs and live recordings of AiC on the market, some of them even contain otherwise unreleased songs. The only bootleg I've heard though, is Live & Unchained and it belongs to a friend of mine. Live & Unchained sounds terrific with an excellent version of "Love, Hate, Love" and the ultimate version of "Man in the Box". Layne screams like he's got a knife in his chest! I would really love to get my hands on other bootlegs, especially Heroin, but my local recordstores never have them and I don't know where to order it... If you know any stores in Europe who's got AiC bootlegs, please write me a line or two...
Mad Season
There was a three year gap between Jar of Flies and Tripod and it was during that period Layne Staley decided to make a record with guitarist Mike McCready from Pearl Jam and some others. The result was this record with a couple of really great songs on it. Slow, smooth songs mostly.
My favourite songs on Above:
"Wake Up", "I'm Above" and "All Alone"
Soundtrack from the motion picture:
AiC produced two songs for the benefit of this motion picture soundtrack, "A Little Bitter" and "What the Hell Have I". These songs are not on any other record (except maybe some bootleg), and therefore I advise you: Go buy this record - "What the Hell Have I" kicks ass !!!
The sound of the songs are kind of a mix between the sounds of Tripod and Facelift, although it was produced long before Tripod. If you like heavy-metal you may find the rest of the record interesting too, Megadeth for example has got a cool song in "Angry Again", and AC/DC's "Big Gun" isn't too bad. This record is not to be missed!
My favourite songs on Last Action Hero? You guess !!!
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