ALICE IN CHAINS Bassist On 'Special' New Album 'Rainier Fog': 'We Weren't Looking Forward Or Back'
October 13, 2018
ALICE IN CHAINS bassist Mike Inez recently spoke with Metal Wani. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET and Metal Wani).
On the group's new album, "Rainier Fog":
Mike: "It was just really kind of special record. To go back to Seattle and record was just amazing for us. It's really close to our hearts, for sure. When I was flying from L.A. to go up there with Jerry [Cantrell], I had a moment of anxiety. I was like, 'Wow, this is going to be a really intense thing to go back into the belly of the beast.' We don't live those lifestyles anymore, and we've grown up. I thought I was going to have a lot of ghosts when I walked in the studio. Surprisingly, I walked in and learned a lot about myself, and I noticed that once we plug our guitars into an amp and just start playing together, everything kind of works out. It was nice to see Mount Rainier in the distance and breathe that air and go get fresh coffee on the waterfront. It was a really special summer for us.
"With this album, we weren't looking forward or back — we were just kind of in the moment, in a cool studio room, and really enjoying each other's company. That, I think, we attribute to our family vibe, the way we run the band. We're like brothers at this point. The bones of our band is already built. With us, it's like a Christmas tree — every time we go into a studio, it's like we're dressing up the Christmas tree for that season. There's no such thing as an easy record, so for us, it was just a question of staying in the moment and really just trying to do our best. To toot our own horn, I think we got a good representation of capturing those moments in the studio this time. Each day brought a new surprise, and it was really pleasant for us, so we weren't really thinking of the future too much or of the past too much. I was really proud of us to stay in those moments and recognize them when they're happening."
On whether the record connects to the band's previous two albums featuring vocalist William DuVall:
Mike: "With the first two records, the first one, 'Black Gives Way To Blue', we didn't know what to expect and if people were going to accept us again. We had a full world tour planned at that point, so we were just kind of saying goodbye to Layne [Staley] in a way and kind of discovering where we were on the 'Black Gives Way To Blue' record. The second record we did with William was just big sounding, pummeling tones. On this record, we kind of stripped it back a little bit. We recorded it in a little bit of a different way up in Seattle. I thought it was a more organic feel of an album."
On whether he considers ALICE IN CHAINS to be a "grunge" band:
Mike: "It's funny, because I don't think you would talk to any one of the people in any of the bands like SOUNDGARDEN or PEARL JAM or NIRVANA, and they'll never use that word 'grunge,' really. It was kind of a marketing tag that other people put on it. It was interesting to watch. Eddie [Vedder] is from San Diego, I'm from Los Angeles, Dave Grohl is from Virginia, so we had a strange view to watch it from kind of an outsider's [perspective], in a way. We weren't playing those clubs early on like the other guys were. The camaraderie with all those bands was really amazing. They would be very supportive. I think the secret was that all those bands had time to be a band and kind of percolate their styles before they got big record deals and all that. SOUNDGARDEN was a band for 10 years before they got a major label deal I think. I never thought SOUNDGARDEN sounded like ALICE IN CHAINS, sounded like PEARL JAM, sounded like NIRVANA. I think it was really just kind of this weird confluence of energies up there in the Pacific Northwest just jamming and jamming in the rain, and that's what came out of it. You couldn't have planned that sort of global movement. That kind of thing just kind of happens."
On the group's longevity:
Mike: "I think it just comes down to the music. If the music is good, people are going to dig it. Of course you've got your Layne Staley purists, and they just want to hear those records. The cool thing about that is that those records are out there, and you can always have those records. That's the special thing about music — certain songs are timeless and mean certain things to certain people. I always say that when we finally release a record, it's not our record anymore — it's your record. It turns into your life story too, and the soundtrack of your day driving around in your car, or listening at work or at home. People come up to us — 'I made my baby to the 'Jar Of Flies' record!' I don't know how to react when people say stuff like that. In fact, last night, me and my wife were coming home and I stopped at a 7-Eleven. I walked in and there was an old guy buying a 30-pack of beer, and he had his son with him, and his son had a 'Rainier Fog' shirt that we only sold at our concert. He came to the Hollywood Palladium show that we played about two months ago here in L.A., so he recognized me and it was weird – I'm talking to two generations of ALICE IN CHAINS fans just in line at the 7-Eleven, and they were just super-positive. I told my wife it was a good reminder for me that it's not just us in the studio, it's everybody else, too. It really affirmed that our lives' work is actually reaching some people."
"Rainier Fog" — ALICE IN CHAINS' third record with William DuVall, who joined in 2006 following the death of Layne Staley — was released in August via BMG. The album was recorded with producer Nick Raskulinecz (RUSH, HALESTORM),engineered by Paul Figueroa (GHOST, DEFTONES) and mixed by Joe Barresi (QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, TOOL).