PANDEMONIUM ARTICLE (VOL #29 - APRIL 1995)
"Layne Staley Unchained"
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Maxi and Layne recently spent the evening together in Seattle. Between
taxi rides and a tour of a few quiet taverns, Layne recorded these
remarks.

Maxi: Has Alice in Chains broken up?

Layne: No. Alice in Chains has taken a break from the strict, stressful,
busy routine. We're going to relax a little more. We've renegotiated our
record contract to take the pressure off of having to deliver so many
finished albums. We're giving them one new album, and then we'll see
what happens.

M: What about the Metallica tour? Why did you pull out?

L: We decided that we needed some time to grow individually. We were all
tired.

M: The rumor mill is rich with tales of a huge fight between you and
Jerry Cantrell. Is any of this true?

L: No, we get along fine. We have no differences about music or
direction. We started this band as kids, and as time has gone on, we've
grown and we are learning to accommodate each others differences as
friends and bandmates.

M: What do you think about the treatment that you've been getting by the
press lately?

L: I haven't read anything but regurgitated rumors. They [the press] are
borrowing insults from the previous article. Nothing new, and nothing
true.

M: What have you been doing since releasing Jar of Flies?

L: I have, so far, written songs for half of a record that I plan to do
myself at the end of the summer, and I recorded the full Mad Season
record. I also had a feature show at an art gallery with my pen and ink
drawings.

M: One of those drawings is on the cover of your new album.

L: Right. On the Mad Season album.

M: Give me a brief history of the early days of your career with Alice
in Chains.

L: We played the Seattle scene for two and a half to three years, then
went in to record what we intended to be our own independent record. We
thought we could find someone to distribute it for us locally. What
ended up happening, was that Susan Silver and Kelly Curtis came down to
the studio to hear us recording. Our manager at the time couldn't stay
with us, and Susan and Kelly said they wanted to help us out. They said
that if they didn't get us what we wanted in six months we wouldn't have
to pay them anyintended to be our own independent record. We thought we
could find someone to distribute it for us locally. What ended up
happening, was that Susan Silver and Kelly Curtis came down to the
studio to hear us recording. Our manager at the time couldn't stay with
us, and Susan and Kelly said they wanted to help us out. They said that
if they didn't get us what we

M: What station was it that first started giving you radio attention?

L: KISW. Damon Stewart was the first DJ to start spinning our songs.

M: How did audiences react to Alice in Chains at first hearing?

L: They just looked at us at first. But the more we circled around and
came back to each city, the better the response got. By our third or
fourth U.S. tour we felt like we were doing okay on stage.

M: You did four US tours...

L: We did Extreme, Iggy Pop, Van Halen, Clash of the Titans - that's the
one that really pushed us over the top. We survived a Slayer crowd every
night for about fifty days and thought we could do about anything after
that. Slayer's was not an easy crowd to please.

M: I imagine you must have started to get sick of some of that material.
How many times do you think you've played "Man in the Box?"

L: Hundreds. I think we played it at almost every show.

M: A lot of people finger your songs on the Singles soundtrack as kind
of a turning point for you guys. How did that movie affect your career?

L: It helped a lot to get our music out to so many people who were all
focusing on the Seattle scene thing at the time.

M: How is success treating you? What does it feel like to have enough
money to fly anywhere in the world right now?

L: [Laughter] I'm not set for life, but I guess I can go anywhere I
want. If only I knew where to go.

M: What did you go out and buy after you got your first advance?

L: I paid a lot to the IRS. No fancy cars, but I bought some good
recording equipment, guitars, furniture, and I bought a computer. I
haven't bought much since.

M: If you were writing your autobiography, what would you put in it?
What would you want people to know about you?

L: I've always looked for the perfect life to step into. I've done all
the work, taken all the paths to get where I wanted. But no matter how
far I go, I still come home to me. At home I'm just Layne, a guy who has
interests that extend far beyond music. Music is the career I'm lucky
enough to get paid for, but I have other desires and passions. Music is
the doorway that has led me to drawing, photography, and writing.

M: So where do you see yourself in five years?

L: Working a lot less, maybe taking some time for my hobbies.

M: What makes you happy right now?

L: [long pause] Hmmm... [very long pause] rearranging my apartment, and
taking photographs.

M: Talk to me about drugs. How have they affected your life? Do they
still affect your life?

L: Drugs will have a huge effect on my work for the rest of my life,
whether I'm using or not. There are lasting consequences for using
drugs. It doesn't matter whether I am taking drugs or not, I'll still be
paying for my prior use.

M: How have drugs affected your songwriting?

L: When I'm writing music, I find myself in my head. Whatever dramas or
chaotic happenings are going on in my life, I can always find that place
inside my head where I see myself as the cleanest, tallest, strongest,
wisest person that I can be at that moment.

M: Do you consider yourself a role model?

L: No. I hope not. I do have a lot to say about preventing people from
making stupid decisions. I made a stupid decision and now I'm paying for
it. My bed isn't made, I'm tired, I haven't slept well for two weeks. I
haven't been stupid decision and now I'm paying for it. My bed isn't
made, I'm tired, I haven't slept well for two weeks. I haven't been laid
in a month. I

M: Do you support the idea of legalizing drugs to get treatment closer
to users?

L: I don't think any drug that can cause brain damage, failing kidneys,
hardening arteries, pain, and suffering should be made available. Drugs
are not the way to the light. They won't lead to a fairy-tale life, they
lead to suffering.

M: Was Kurt Cobain a friend of yours? How did his death affect you?

L: [Long pause, visible discomfort] Kurt and I weren't the closest of
friends, but we ran in to each other at shows and hung out. I knew him
well enough to be devastated by his death. I just don't understand at
all. The last time I saw him, he gave me a ride from QFC on Broadway to
a friend's house, the whole way there, which was about a fifteen minute
drive, he talked about his daughter. For such a quiet person, he was so
excited about having a child, he really loved that little girl. About a
month later I saw on the news... [long pause] that he was dead.

M: How has the Seattle music scene changed since Alice's heyday?

L: Musicians worked together more then. We colaborated with other bands
more often. There wasn't as much business pressure on bands. It was all
about music, about getting your friends to come and see you play. I
don't see that same intimacy happening very much today.

M: Do you think that Seattle is still a hot-bed of talent?

L: I guess so. I've heard some really good industrial music from the
Northwest lately.

M: What's in your CD player at home right now?

L: Ministry, the soundtrack to Bram Stoker's Dracula, the new Hole LP,
and the Flaming Lips EP. M: What's next for you? Is Mad Season going to
tour?

L: Mad Season will do a couple of shows in LA, a couple in New York, and
maybe a late night television show. With Alice I'm recording a record,
doing some videos, and I guess touring...we don't really know yet. If
so, I hope it's a two week tour this time, instead of two painful years.


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