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Layne Staley

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Christiana Hanaman
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« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2011, 06:53:05 pm »



The Needle And The Damage Done
Rolling Stone
1996
They've survived drug addiction and personal tragedy, but the hardest thing for Alice in Chains may be finding a way to live with themselves. Turning the steering wheel hard to the right and stomping his foot on the gas, Alice in Chains' lead singer, Layne Staley, accelerates full speed into the back of a stopped car.

Grinning widely, he slams his open top vehicle into reverse and glances over his shoulder just in time to see a Wiffle ball descend in an arc toward him. Staley shifts his bony hips, reaches his left arm out and catches the sphere in a scoop that resembles a cross between a squash racket and a jai alai cesta. Then he floors his car back to center court, where he passes the ball to Alice's guitarist, Jerry Cantrell, who is waiting under a small goal. Cantrell flings the object from his scoop and into the goal. A buzzer sounds, and a red light illuminates. Two points for the Alice in Chains team. The game is WhirlyBall, a bizarre hybrid of basketball, bumper cars and lacrosse that was invented in 1962 by a Utah automotive-shop owner who received divine inspiration after watching his son improvise a game of hockey while driving a golf cart. Although WhirlyBall didn't catch on as quickly as the hHula-Hoop, today a dozen or so such facilities dot the country, including this one, which is about a half-hour outside of Seattle. Before enduring the grind of formal interrogations, including Staley's first major interview in more that two years, the band wants to have a little fun. Alice's drummer, Sean Kinney, came up with the idea of giving WhirlyBall a whirl, and although the other band members were initially reluctant, right now they're all smiles. Kinney and Cantrell seem hellbent on defeating the opposing team, which consists of bassist Mike Inez, who somehow didn't wind up on the Alice squad. Even Staley, who minutes before was covertly mimicking and flipping off a drill-sergeant-like referee, seems to be having a good time. But despite a fine passing attack, Alice in Chains lack the rebounding and shooting ability to defeat their opponents. They also lack the teamwork, and by the beginning of the second game, Staley has bowed out to play video games on his portable Sega system. Alice in Chains may never make the WhirlyBall all-star squad, but they've managed to hang together, sometimes just barely, through almost nine years of hardship and continuing struggle. Starting out as fledgling glam-metal outfit, Alice in Chains' sudden move toward grunge after one album and one EP earned the derision of Seattle scenesters, some of whom dubbed the band Kindergarten, due to their sonic similarity to Soundgarden. But Alice in Chains silenced most of their critics with the 1992 album 'Dirt', a brooding disc of slow, savage riffs and Staley's harrowing lyrics, which detailed his battle with heroin addiction.

Released in November, the band's self-titled third album displays further growth, coupling improvisational jams with bleak rhythms and intertwining melancholy with menace. Considering how dark their music is, you'd expect the members of Alice in Chains to brood offstage as well as on. Instead, they play off one another like a depraved comedy troupe. "Since our music is so depressing, everybody expects us to run around in black and whine about ****," says Kinney.
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Christiana Hanaman
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« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2011, 06:54:03 pm »

"But that's such a misconception. We just get together and **** around. We're like the Monkees or something." After they finish with WhirlyBall, Alice in Chains return to downtown Seattle and stop at Umberto's, the kind of family-style Italian restaurant where, if you drink enough cheap wine, you won't care what's under the blanket of red sauce. Appropriately, the band is seated in a remote back room that doubles as a wine cellar. Before their room arrives the members of Alice engage in a primitive heavy-metal ritual: gross out the journalist. Cantrell brags about a girl he recently picked up who chewed tobacco, causing him to experience a peculiar but pleasurable burning sensation during oral sex. Staley counters with a story of a friend who received a blow job from an extremely drunk woman who vomited all over her partner midway through the ace. Then we're on to the next topic: animal abuse. Staley talks about a childhood acquaintance who wrapped a kitten's legs with twine and threw it into a lake: "I screamed, 'No, man, take it out,' but he was bigger than me, so I just watched it drown." But the coup de grace comes when Cantrell recalls the exploits of a neighborhood sicko: "He'd carve up these frogs and turtles and stuff on one side, but on the other side would look completely normal. Then he'd come up to you, and you'd be like 'Oh, wow, a frog.' Then he'd turn it around, and all its guts would be hanging out." Needless to say, nobody's too hungry when the food finally arrives. After dinner, Cantrell, Kinney and Inez return with Staley to his house, where they stay up until 5 in the morning, smoking pot and playing video games. Their camaraderie has helped the band mates endure the hardships of substance abuse and personal tragedy. Being so close has also nearly torn them apart. In the summer of 1994, the day before the start of a tour with Metallica, Alice nearly reached the end of their chain. At the time, Staley was in the throes of heroin addiction, and Kinney was struggling with the bottle. "We'd been going full force, just running at top speed with our eyes closed," says Cantrell peering through a half-empty glass of beer. "We had been way too close for too long, and we were suffocation. We were like four plants trying to grow in the same pot." Things got worse when Staley, who, according to Kinney, had just returned from drug rehab, came to practice high. In response, Kinney threw down his sticks and vowed never again to play with Staley. Cantrell concurred, the tour was canceled, and the band parted company for six months. "Nobody was being honest with each other back then," admits Kinney, seconds after inhaling a cloud of marijuana smoke. "If we had kept going, there was a good chance we would have self-destructed on the road, and we definitely didn't want that to happen in public." In the months following their breakup, the band members when through the stages of grief that accompany loss: denial, depression and, finally, acceptance. "At first I was dumbfounded," Staley recalls, mumbling like someone awakened by a late-night phone call. "I just sat on my couch staring at the TV and getting drunk every day. When we first got together as a band, we were all brothers. We lived in the same house and partied together and drank as much as each other. But then we started to split apart and went different ways, and we felt like we were betraying each other." Rumors of a permanent breakup and worse began to circulate. "I found out through the Internet that I have AIDS," says Staley. "I learned that I was dead. Where else would I find out about these things? I don't see a doctor regularly. I was in San Francisco at Lollapalooza, and this girl walked up to me and said, 'You're not dead.' And I said, 'No, you're right. Wow.'" During their time apart, Staley recorded an album with Mad Season, his side project with Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready and Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin; Inez scuba dived and worked with Guns n' Roses guitarist Slash on his album 'It's Five O'Clock somewhere;' Kinney snow boarded and recorded a track with Krist Novoselic, Kim Thayil and Johnny Cash for the Willie Nelson tribute album, 'Twisted Willie;' and Cantrell, who writes most of the band's music, holes himself up at his rural home outside of Seattle and wrote riffs initially intended for a solo album. By January 1995, he was working on some of that material with Kinney and Inez. Four months later, Staley was invited back into the fold, and the band began working together on 'Alice in Chains.' If 'Dirt' was a diary of the pain and animosity caused by addiction, betrayal and hypocrisy, 'Alice in Chains' chronicles the bitter aftereffects of conflict, seeking to reassemble the shattered pieces. "We let **** come straight out on this one," says Cantrell. "It was often depressing, and getting it done felt like pulling hair out, but it was the **** coolest thing, and I'm glad to have gone through it. I will cherish the memory forever". "I'll cherish it forever, too, just because this one I can remember doing," says Staley. He's only half joking. It's the day after the WhirlyBall adventure, and Staley is seated at a corner table of Cafe Sophie, a quaint Seattle jazz restaurant that served as a morgue in the early 1900's. After ordering a root beer, he peers out the window at the sun, which is burning a hole through the darkening clouds and reflecting on the sparkling water of Puget Sound. Staley's frail frame is swallowed up by a blue warmup jacket and a white T-shirt embossed with the scribbly design of his first watercolor self-portrait. His pants are decorated with Sesame Street characters. His head is bound by a white spotted bandanna, and a small scab above his right eye sets off his pale skin. A pair of black gloves covers his hands. Yesterday he wore the same gloves. Last night at dinner the gloves were gone, but the sleeves of his white oxford shirt were buttoned, exposing what appear to be red, round puncture marks from the wrist to the knuckles of his left hand. And as anyone who knows anything about IV drugs can tell you, the veins in the hands are used only after all the other veins have been tapped out. Despite the evidence, Staley won't acknowledge that he still battles with heroin. "If I'm staying busy, and if I'm getting my job done, and I'm doing things I think are great, then I don't have a problem with anything, you know?" he asks. "If I live on just a strictly sugar diet, hey, I like it." He laughs weakly and nervously, then continues. "Nobody ever asks Meat Loaf, 'What do you eat? Why do you eat so much? Shouldn't you lose some weight?' No, he shouldn't. He's **** Meat Loaf. He writes songs, and he has a great time, and none of your f****n' business. Maybe he eats meatloaf every **** night, you know?" He laughs a bit harder. "People have a right to ask questions and dig deep when you're hurting people and things around you," Staley continues.
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Christiana Hanaman
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« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2011, 06:54:54 pm »

"But when I haven't talked to anybody in years, and every article I see is dope this, junkie that, whiskey this -- that ain't my title. Like 'Hi, I'm Layne, nail biter,' you know? My bad habits aren't my title. My strengths and my talent are my title." Staley's argument might carry more weight if he didn't write about using drugs. Five songs on 'Dirt' were about heroin, and several tracks on the new album feature lines like "Things go well, your eyes dilate/You shake, and I'm high?" ("Sludge Factory") and "No more time/Just one more time" ("Head Creeps"). Yet Staley says he's reluctant to take about his addictions -- not because he's embarrassed but because he's worried his fans will think he's glorifying drugs. "I wrote about drugs, and I didn't think I was being unsafe or careless by writing about them," Staley says. "Here's how my thinking pattern went: When I tried drugs, they were **** great, and they worked for me for years, and now they're turning against me -- and now I'm walking through hell, and this sucks. I didn't want my fans to think heroin was cool. But then I've had fans come up to me and five me the thumbs up, telling me they're high. That's exactly what I didn't want to happen." Although Staley won't go into any detail about his past or present drug use, he admits to having an addictive personality. "When I'm not doing drugs, I eat," he says. "And I binge, and I **** gain 20 pounds. And I work out. And when I start working out, I go crazy on it. I can't do anything in small doses. If I sat here and said 'I'm 90-days sober and easy does it, stay the course,' I'd be full of ****, because I'm not 90-days sober. But I'm not in the bathroom getting high, either. And two years ago I would have been. It's not something I think about. It's not something I wake up and have to go find." Staley was born in Kirkland, Wash., in 1967, and was raised with two sisters in a middle-class family.

His first memory is of looking up at a musical carousel hanging above his crib. At 5, he joined a preschool rhythm group that met once a week. When he was 7, his parents divorced, and his mother remarried, adding a stepbrother to the family. "No deep, dark secrets there," Staley says. "I remember sometimes wondering where my dad was, but most of the time I was too busy running around and playing." At 12, Staley started playing drums. It was at about this time that he first connected sex and drugs with rock & roll. "I read my first article about [a major '80s rock star], and he was in a limo doing lines of blow on a mirror, and he had a babe under each arm," says Staley. "And that's when I decided I wanted to be a rock star. I wanted to do blow, and I wanted those babes under my arms. I didn't know what blow was, and I didn't know what sex was, but it looked impressive to me because it was written in the magazine." During high school, Staley switched from drums to vocals, swapping his drum fear for a PA. He sang with a number of garage groups, including one that practiced at the home of a band member whose mother was a devout Christian woman. "I had a pentagram on my jacket, so I usually had to sneak into band practice," Staley recalls. For Staley, music provided an escape from the monotony of school and the frustration of being unpopular. After high school, Staley moved into a local rehearsal studio called the Music Bank. One night at a party in 1987, he ran into Alice in Chaine, auture guitarist, Jerry Cantrell. Almost 40 miles outside of Seattle, past a network of twisting roads surrounded by emu and llama farms, is an old dirt road better suited to horse and buggy than automobile. Just off this road is Cantrell's house, a modest three-bedroom dwelling that sits on 20 acres. When he's home, Cantrell spends much of his time on the rec-room couch, staring at his 57-inch projection-screen television, which is hooked up to a satellite dish in his back yard. "We definitely know how to lounge around here," he says as he fires up his first bowl of the afternoon.
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Christiana Hanaman
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« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2011, 06:55:36 pm »

Having just woken up, he's unshaven and wearing a Suicidal Tendencies jersey and blue sweat pants -- likely the same outfit he wore to bed last night. "The only thing more relaxing is fishing. That's the one thing I can do where I don't think about the band or my bills or nothing. It's just quiet **** peace." "Jerry's a very complex person," says his sister, Cheri. "He's very guarded of himself and especially of those whom he cares about. It's very hard, because he has so many different sides to him, and it just depends on what side you get in the morning. I never, ever thought he would be as big as he is today. I thought he would end up working for Safeway or at a video place or something." Adds a close friend of Cantrell's, Metallica's drummer, Lars Ulrich: "He's a lot like me. There's always something going on in his head. In terms of mood swings, I think we're both like a VU meter, bouncing back and forth between being really happy and an **** and being really into something and not." Cantrell, whose great-grandfather was a Wild West train robber, was born in Tacoma, Wash., in 1966. At the time, his father was a soldier fighting in Vietnam, and his mother, an amateur organist and melodica player, was raising Cantrell, his older and younger sister. "One of the first memories I have was my dad coming back from Vietnam in his uniform when I was 3 years old," says Cantrell, "and my mom telling me that he was my dad." After the war, Cantrell's father bounced from one Army base to another, including stints in Germany and Alaska. But three years in Vietnam took their toll on his father, and when Cantrell was 7, his parents got divorced. "My dad was trained to be a **** killer," says Cantrell. "After that, you can't just come back home and say, 'OK, everything's cool. I'm going to work 9 to 5 now.' That **** scars you forever. We had a lot of problems and occurrences because of that." Despite the hardships, Cantrell knew from an early age what he wanted to do with his life.

Shortly after he learned how to write, he documented his goal in a Dr. Seuss book called 'My Book About Me,' filling it the sentence, "When I grow up I want to be a . . ." with the words 'rock star' in sprawling cursive letters. A few years later, Cantrell moved back in with his mother and began vandalizing his neighborhood with friends -- egging cars and smashing mailboxes with baseball bats. Soon after, he discovered sex. "I was busted by the cops, trying to get a blow job in a park when I was 17," he says. "The thing that scared me most was that my grandmother had a **** police scanner, and she used to listen to it every day and tell me when my friends got busted. But that night one of her crystals went out for that channel, so she couldn't hear anything. That was a godsend." By that time, Cantrell was jamming regularly with friends and acting in lead roles in high school plays. At the age of 20, he suffered his first great loss when his grandmother died of cancer. Six months later he found out his mother was terminally ill with pancreatic cancer. "She and my grandmother both spent most of their time in the house in the medical bed doped up on morphine and wasting away daily," he remembers, his voice cracking slightly. "My other relatives would come over, and there were some pretty tense times between us because they didn't understand me at all. I played the guitar 10 to 12 hours a night. It was a way of escaping the pain that was right in front of my face. I wasn't playing loud or anything, but they said it was probably bugging my mom, which was bulls**t. She wasn't even conscious. If anything, it was helping her because I was playing for her, and maybe she could hear me just a little bit while she was down there." A few months later, Cantrell got into a physical confrontation with his uncle and was kicked out of the house. A few days after that, Cantrell's mother's life support was shut off, and he wasn't able to be with her on her deathbed. "I was really angry with them for a long time," he says. "It was stupid childhood anger, but it caused a lot of distance between me and my family. That's a drag because I really love them all." Shortly following his mother's death, Cantrell moved in with Staley at the Music Bank.
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Christiana Hanaman
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« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2011, 06:56:27 pm »

The seeds of Alice in Chains were planted a little while later when Cantrell met the first Alice bassist, Mike Starr, after the two joined a local metal outfit, Gypsy Rose. They decided to form their own band with Staley, who was tiring of the glam group he was in. Starr introduced them to Kinney, who was dating Starr's sister. Kinney had been couch surfing since the age of 17, when his mom kicked him out of the house for being disrespectful. Kinney may have lacked a home, but he had a good drum kit and plenty of talent. The original Alice lineup stayed together until 1993, when Starr quit the band. He was replaced with Inez, who had been playing bass with Ozzy Ozbourne. "I was working on some demos with Ozzy, and I told him that Alice had asked me to go to Europe with them," remembers Inez. "I asked him if he thought I should go, and he said, 'If you don't go, you're going to be in the hospital for about seven days.'

And I said 'Why?' And he said, 'It's going to take them that long to get my foot out of your ass.'" Seattle's Pike Place Market is more than just a stop for the city's tour-bus companies. It's a great spot to buy local crafts, fresh vegetables and drug paraphernalia. Right now, Staley and Cantrell are less interested in macrame and zucchini than they are in pipes and bongs. Cantrell picks up a simple brown wood stash box with a one-hit pipe, and Staley spends $141.42 on a Quantum compass and lighter set, a clear Graffix long-tube bong, three glass piped and a bowl that looks like a perfume bottle. "My cats always knock 'em over and bust 'em," says Staley, who started smoking pot and drinking as a teen before experimenting with and later becoming hooked on heroin. Since then, addiction has been the malignant force that has made Alice in Chains' songs so gripping and has become the destructive power that constantly threatens to do the band in. "Layne battles all the time with that ****," says Kinney. "He probably will for the rest of his life. I used to wig out on him all the time just out of being worried about him. But then I'd be **** drunk all the time. What's the difference, you know? Everyone's got to be allowed to live his own life. We try to keep an eye on each other, but you can't tell someone what to do." 'Alice in Chains' was recorded in four and a half months, but few of the songs had been actually written when the band entered the studio last April. Using the riffs that Cantrell had written as beacons, Alice in Chains jammed until they had a framework for the tunes. Then they handed the tapes to Staley, who cobbed together most of the lyrics. "I just wrote down whatever was on my mind," says Staley, "so a lot of the lyrics are really loose. If you asked me to sing the lyrics to probably any one of them right now, I couldn't do it. I'm not sure what they are because they're still that fresh." One of the most emotional songs on the record, "Heaven Beside You," was written solely by Cantrell as a way of coping with his recent split from his girlfriend of seven years. He met her at a Guns n' Roses concert while he was trying to hand Axl Rose a band demo, and Cantrell still describes her as "the most beautiful girl I've ever seen in my life." The two parted ways last year because Cantrell was unable to remain faithful to her. "I still love her, but I'm too much of a **** wolf -- kill, attack, move on," he laments. "It's tough when you're so used to being hard. You can't tell and oak to be a pine."
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Christiana Hanaman
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« Reply #20 on: March 20, 2011, 06:57:00 pm »

Staley had a similar experience with a woman he was engaged to a few years ago. "I can definitely say rock & roll was a huge factor in us breaking up," he says. "When you're in a relationship, the girl usually instigates the big idea that you were born joined at the hip. So when the fighting comes, it's really painful. "This isn't a dig on women," Staley adds before launching into a sexist theory, "but I think women are so different chemically from men, and that makes it hard to sustain a relationship. They have their periods, they go through horrible, awful emotional swings, and trying to be logical with a person that's got a whole different logic running around in her brain is just impossible." But Cantrell and Staley have been consumed with more than just relationship woes recently, facing an even more painful and frightening prospect: death. Last year one of Cantrell's cousins, suffering from deep depression and on Prozac, shot himself between the eyes. Five of Staley's friends also have died during the last two years. He won't say whether the deaths were drug related. "I'm gonna be here for a long f****n' time," Staley asserts. "I'm scared to death, especially death by my own hand. I'm scared of where I would go. Not that I ever consider that, because I don't." Well, maybe not, but two and a half years ago, Staley might easily have taken his life had it not been for a couple of near-death experiences that he claims forced him to re-evaluate his lifestyle. Again he refuses to say whether the incidents were drug related, but he willingly and vividly describes the experience. "I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of where I was going to go if I did follow through with it," he says frankly. "That makes me sad for my friends who have taken their own lives, because I know that if your time is not finished here, and you end it yourself, then you gotta finish it somewhere else. There was a time when things seemed desperate, and I thought taking my life might be a way out. I made a couple of really weak attempts, mostly to see if I could do it, and I couldn't. "I was sitting with a friend on time," Staley recalls, "and I blanked out for about a minute. I had no control over my muscles, and it scared the **** out of me because I experienced what I guess could have been hell, or you know, purgatory or whatever. It was freezing cold, and I was spinning like I was drunk and trying desperately to take a breath. There was chest pain like I was gonna explode. "If you gotta feel pain here, you gotta feel it somewhere else," he continues. "I believe that there's a wonderful place to go to after this life, and I don't believe there's eternal damnation for anyone. I'm not into religion, but I have a good grasp of my spirituality. I just believe that I'm not the greatest power on this earth. I didn't create myself, because I would have done a hell of a better job." For all the agony that went into 'Alice in Chains,' there's a stark beauty to the way the buzzing guitars spiral around the pulsing beats.

"Our music's kind of about taking something ugly and making it beautiful," Cantrell explains. "I do that every day when I'm dressing," jokes Staley. "I take an ugly face and make it beautiful."
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« Reply #21 on: March 20, 2011, 06:57:42 pm »

Such levity occasionally finds its way through the cracks of the new record. "For a long time I let problems and sour relationships rule over me instead of letting the water roll of my back," says Staley. "I thought it was cool that I could write such dark, depressing music. But instead of being therapeutic, it was starting to drag on and keep hurting. This time I just felt, '**** it. I can write good music, and if I feel easy and I feel like laughing, I can laugh.' There's no huge, deep message in any of the songs. It was just what was going on in my head right then. We had good times, and we had bad times. We recorded a few months of being human." These days, that's all Staley longs for. He doesn't want to be a rock god, and he certainly doesn't want to be a martyr. "I'd hate to be stuck up there," he says. "I saw all the suffering Kurt Cobain went through. I didn't know him real well, but I just saw this real vibrant person turn into a real shy, timid, withdrawn, introverted person who could hardly get a hello out. "There was a time when we played out everything we ever dreamed of," Staley continues. "After I got my first gold record, my friend came over and pulled out a couple of lines of blow, and I pulled the gold record off the wall, because that was a dream of mine. If I ever got a gold record, I was going to do my first line of coke on that. I had a great time riding around in limos and eating lobster and gettin' laid. I went hog wild for a while, I mean, sex is not something I crave so much anymore. I had a great time, but I can't physically or mentally live in that lifestyle constantly." In reaction to the avalanche of attention that accompanies fame, Staley moved into a house in the suburbs and now spends much of his time behind closed doors. "At the end of the day or at the end of the party, when everyone goes home, you're stuck with yourself," Staley says. "There was a time when I couldn't deal with that, and I couldn't go to places by myself. I needed to call up a friend to go to a 7-Eleven. I just couldn't approach people when I was alone. Getting a place on my own was a step toward learning how to do that." Troubled and withdrawn, Staley views himself as a little kid who won the lottery and moved into his own private fun house. "I run around and play all day long, and I don't have to come in and wash my face," Staley says proudly. "And I don't go to sleep untill I've watched all my cartoons, and that's usually not untill 9 in the morning. When I first got a credit card, I maxed it out for the first three months at Toys 'R Us. I bought a lot of video games and 'Star Trek' phasers and Batman dolls." While aspects of Staley's conduct are endearing and childlike, the marks on his hands suggest that he hasn't beat his addiction. "I don't know anything about the puncture marks on his hands," says Alice's manager Susan Silver. "All I know is that this sort of journalism creates an environment that is dangerous to the youth who read it." With their new album, Alice in Chains may have triumphed artistically, but they haven't had much time to celebrate. They've been too concerned with weather they're going to be mentally and physically healthy enough to tour (no dates have been scheduled yet) and what force may next threaten their existence. The more records that Alice in Chains sell, the less they understand everything around them. "****, I don't know what the hell I'm doing, man," admits Cantrell. "I never took Rock Star 101 in school. I never even saw the textbook. The way I view it, the only way to find out what's going on in life is to go through it full force with your head down and to smack into a few walls on the way. That's the only way to learn. Then, hopefully after a while, you figure out which ones to keep hitting."

http://www.adbdesign.com/aic/articles/art071.html
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Christiana Hanaman
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« Reply #22 on: March 20, 2011, 06:58:55 pm »

Living Hell
Layne Staley's Been Dead for a Long Time

by Kathleen Wilson

Late Friday afternoon, on April 19, Seattle learned that another one of its famous musicians had died. Layne Staley, singer and key songwriter for Alice in Chains, was discovered dead from an apparent heroin overdose. To me, the only surprising fact about the discovery is that he lived in a relatively new condo in the U-District. While career junkies and their relatives know that the area in which Staley died is a neighborhood of choice for those with daily and continual heroin needs, most folks assumed the singer was living anywhere but there. I, like many people, assumed he lived in Los Angeles these days. Where his body was found, however, is of little importance, as is the fact that he'd probably been dead for weeks before anyone noticed. What is important, though, is what makes the specifics unimportant: the fact that Staley has been dead for a long, long time.

Staley's heroin addiction had already rendered Alice in Chains a non-productive band in the Northwest by the time I arrived in Seattle to cover its music scene in 1996. I'd seen them once or twice in Portland, most memorably opening for Soundgarden at a club that was then called the Starry Night. I'd never been a fan of the band, though they seemed like nice people, and my relocation to Seattle failed to change my mind about the group, like it has with Pearl Jam. The live version of "Rooster" made the music no more palatable than it was on 1992's Dirt, and an Unplugged appearance on MTV again offered no new reason to re-evaluate my opinion. Mad Season, the "grunge supergroup" of 1995 featuring Staley, Barrett Martin of Screaming Trees, and Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, just sounded like pure desperation to me.

The band did have many devoted fans, but I wasn't one of them, so this story will not be packed with maudlin sadness or forced tribute. In the last couple of days, since Staley's body was discovered, I've heard some of his contemporaries comment that Alice in Chains was the band that defined Seattle's grunge sound in the truest sense of the genre. I disagree, not because I connected with Nirvana's lyrics and sound more or because it received more attention than all the other bands that found fame under the media-produced "grunge" niche. I disagree because Alice in Chains didn't sound at all hopeful in its turgid angst, and due to that, I was unable to find solace in it. Most of us listen to music to light a subconscious fire under our asses, either by recognition or resignation. Grunge, as it is known officially, was produced by Northwesterners, and everyone who grew up here is driven by a dark, dank climate that gets into our bones until the summer (not spring, as history proves that April, especially, is a ****) dries us out. Alice in Chains, and specifically Staley's voice, sounded like the despair of someone who had already given up, and for good. Staley had a great, versatile voice, but there was no liveliness to it, at least none that I could hear. It sounded dead to me. And now it is.
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« Reply #23 on: March 20, 2011, 07:00:03 pm »

I recently wrote an article in this paper stating that the Seattle music community needs to look out for its own. Sometimes, though, people do all they can, and after their hearts have been broken enough times--out of crushed expectations and wasted energy--they realize there's nothing more they can do, and that a person who really, truly doesn't want to be helped, can't be. I know that many people--both friends and those who saw him as a commodity--tried to help Staley. He preferred to stay hooked, or didn't have the strength it takes to get off the stuff. Maintenance is a motherfucker, whether it's dedicated to sobriety or addiction. Both take every ounce of strength, and neither is fun after the initial glow wears off.

As I've stated, I wasn't even a fan of Alice in Chains, but due to a sheer sense of humanity and the dedicated belief in artistic expression, I feel the loss. No one should be surprised or startled, though, especially considering it took two weeks for someone to get around to even checking on him. The mourning process began a long time ago, people. And given Staley's tortured "life," death is a restful option. In a 1996 Rolling Stone cover story, Staley addressed his addiction, and nowhere in the interview did he give the impression that he should be thought of as an icon or martyr. Leave the bandmates, relatives, and friends to mourn authentically. The rest of you: Listen to the records, and then either make your decisions on what to do with your life from the example set, or don't.

LAYNE STALEY

REMEMBERED

by Matthew Fox

I met Layne Staley at an Alice in Chains show, in May of 1986 at Kane Hall. They had just changed their name from Sleze, and, like any **** metalhead faced with glam rockers, I was skeptical. We were introduced, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that Layne's ego wasn't nearly as big as his hair.

In the early days, Alice in Chains embodied the stereotype of struggling musicians. They were all living in their rehearsal space in the old Music Bank, and often ate thanks to the generosity of female fans. We spent many late nights indulging in what George W. Bush likes to characterize as "youthful indiscretions," and boy, were we ever indiscreet. In 1987, when Alice considered adding a second guitar player, I was up for the gig. It didn't pan out, and I have occasionally wondered how different my life would have been if it had.

Though I didn't join AiC, Layne and I remained friends. I still remember when AiC gave my band Bitter End an opening slot for them at the Central Tavern during the 1988 Final Four weekend--we made $600, an amazing sum at the time.

I also had the privilege of being the first rock writer in town to cover the band when I did a feature story on them for Backlash in 1988. Perhaps the greatest irony in Layne's death is that rock critics who previously shrugged off Alice in Chains will now discover what a vital and influential band they really were.

I went to Seattle Center for the impromptu memorial that was held last Saturday, and it struck me how I often only see old friends after a tragedy nowadays. All of the members of AiC were there, along with other old timers, and everyone was taking Layne's death very hard. Truly inspirational, though, was the strength of Layne's mother. I hadn't met her before, but she was there consoling Layne's friends and fans at a time when she deserved support herself. I am still amazed by her resilience.

I'm only 35, and I've lost three close friends in the last year, including my high school pal and longtime Bitter End roadie Damon Teras, big Pete Blasi from NAF productions, and now Layne Staley. I guess it may be some comfort to think that Layne is together again with his longtime girlfriend, Demri (she died of complications from drug use several years ago). One of my favorite early AiC songs was a tune called "Chemical Addiction." Written in 1987, long before heroin chic hit Seattle, it included a lyric that turned out to be all too prescient: "I don't know much about heroin, but I want to try just about everything once before I die." Rest in peace, Layne. You will be missed.

Oh, and heroin **** sucks.

http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/living-hell/Content?oid=10557
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Christiana Hanaman
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« Reply #24 on: March 20, 2011, 07:00:47 pm »



Dave Clothier
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Christiana Hanaman
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« Reply #25 on: March 20, 2011, 07:06:36 pm »

Feb 25 2003 1:03 PM EST 109,706
Late Alice In Chains Singer Layne Staley's Last Interview Revealed In New Book
Book features 50 pages of photos of Staley's sketches, diary entries, childhood pictures.

By Jon Wiederhorn


Almost a year after the April 2002 death of Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley, the final interview with the troubled musician has surfaced in the recently released book "Layne Staley: Angry Chair — A Look Inside the Heart and Soul of an Incredible Musician" by Argentinean writer and music fan Adriana Rubio.

The conversation took place less than three months before Staley died from an overdose of heroin and **** ("Layne Staley Died From Mix Of Heroin, ****, Report Says"), and revealed a broken 34-year-old who had given up the will to live.

"I know I'm dying," he rasped through missing teeth. "I'm not doing well. Don't try to talk about this to my sister Liz. She will know it sooner or later."

Staley, suffering from fever and nausea, told Rubio that his need for heroin was all-consuming, even though the effects of the drug were no longer enjoyable. He added that smack had completely ravaged his system and left him empty and filled with regrets.

"This f---ing drug use is like the insulin a diabetic needs to survive," he said. "I'm not using drugs to get high like many people think. I know I made a big mistake when I started using this sh--. It's a very difficult thing to explain. My liver is not functioning and I'm throwing up all the time and sh---ing my pants. The pain is more than you can handle. It's the worst pain in the world. Dope sick hurts the entire body."

The most chilling passage of the interview reads like a suicide note.

"I know I'm near death," he said. "I did crack and heroin for years. I never wanted to end my life this way. I know I have no chance. It's too late. I never wanted [the public's] thumbs' up about this f---ing drug use. Don't try to contact any AIC (Alice in Chains) members. They are not my friends."

In the rest of the interview, Staley talked about his relationship with his family. He stressed that he's always been close to his mother Nancy McCallum, sister Liz and stepsister Jamie, but that when he was eight years old his father walked out on the family and Staley's life faded to black.

"My world became a nightmare," he said. "There were just shadows around me. I got [a] call saying that my dad had died, [but] my family always knew he was around doing all kind of drugs. Since that call I always was wondering, 'Where is my dad?' I felt so sad for him and I missed him. He dropped out of my life for 15 years."

Staley insisted he always knew he had the talent and creativity to be rock star, and thought that if he became a celebrity his dad would return. So he started writing songs in his teens and jamming with other musicians. At the same time, he did a bit of research to find out where his father was living and what kind of a man he was.

"When I was 16, I tried to find him without saying a word to my family," revealed Staley. "I did it for a long f---in' time, and what I found over the years was not good, so I changed my mind about wanting to see my dad again."

At that point, Staley focused all his energy on music, reveling in it as a cathartic outlet.

"I was about 20, and music became my only obsession to stay alive," he said. "I had the chance to throw out all this anger by the music in order to help others. It was therapeutic and worked [for] me for a while until my dad saw my picture printed on a magazine."

Just as Alice in Chains started to take off, the man Staley expended so much energy and anguish thinking about suddenly wanted to become a part of the rocker's life. The then 21-year-old singer was wary, but he still hoped seeing his dad again would help fill the hole in his heart.

"He said he'd been clean of drugs for six years," Staley related. "So, why in the hell didn't he come back before? I was very cautious at first. Then the relationship changed. My father started using drugs again. We did drugs together and I found myself in a miserable situation. He started visiting me all day to get high and do drugs with me. He came up to me just to get some sh--, and that's all. I was trying to kick this habit out of my life and here comes this man asking for money to buy some smack."

Being used by his father was one of the forces that contributed to Staley's downward slide.

"He finally kicked heroin use, and I'm still fighting," he said bitterly. "I invested a lot of money on treatments. I know I did my best or what I thought would be right. I changed my number. I don't wanna see people anymore and it's nobody's business but mine."

The remainder of "Layne Staley: Angry Chair" is composed of interviews with the singer's mom and sister that outline Staley's childhood, interests, personality, love life and career. The 146-page book also contains the author's take on the European Renaissance and the history of heroin.

Rubio wrote much of the text in first person and empathized with Staley's family by comparing her struggle with bulimia to the ravages of addiction. She features quotes and song lyrics by musician John Brandon, who penned the book "Unchained ... The Story of Mike Starr," but did not interview any of Staley's bandmates, friends, business associates or artists that toured with Alice in Chains.

"Layne Staley: Angry Chair" features 50 pages of photos of Staley's sketches, diary entries, childhood pictures, art work and his eulogy by his friend and Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin.

http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1470138/layne-staleys-last-interview-revealed.jhtml


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