While we mostly know legendary albums in their final form, the decisions on what is eventually used for a record aren’t always so cut and dried. Such was the case for Alice in Chains and their Dirt album, which turns 30 today (Sept. 29). As revealed by Sean Kinney and Jerry Cantrell, two of the album’s key tracks might not have made the cut had it not been for some arm twisting of singer Layne Staley.
The two tracks in question were “Hate to Feel” and “Angry Chair,” the latter of which turned out to be one of the band’s biggest hits. And as the two living musicians from Alice’s Dirt era reveal, Staley wasn’t initially keen on the idea of the songs being used for Alice in Chains.
“Layne started playing guitar more and he had these riffs, and I don’t know if he really wanted to use them with the band,” Kinney told Billboard. “I think he was thinking about some other shit. But I remember just us thinking of how cool they were and wanting to jam on them. So we wound up developing those up as songs and put them on the record.”
Cantrell adds, “Layne came into his own as a guitar player, and he wrote a couple of fantastic tunes on the guitar with ‘Hate to Feel’ and ‘Angry Chair.’ I love those tunes, and I also love the fact that he got the bug to pick up the guitar. I remember he showed us those tunes and he was thinking about doing them for a record on his own. He was a big fan of Nine Inch Nails and Ministry and the whole industrial movement, and those were songs he pocketed for that.”
But after sharing the tracks, the response from his bandmates pushed the singer toward including them for Alice. “He played them for us and we were all like, ‘Fuck, those are cool. We should do those.’ And he reluctantly agreed,” recalls Cantrell. “And we cut them, and they turned out to be two amazing songs that very much fit the record, for sure.”
As it turned out, “Angry Chair” was one of five big radio singles off the Dirt album. The record peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 Album chart, while eventually being certified 5 times platinum by the RIAA in the U.S.
“Hate to Feel” and “Angry Chair” are back-to-back in the track listing on the album, serving as the final two cuts prior to the album closer “Would?” Take a listen to both below.
Alice in Chains, “Hate to Feel”
Alice in Chains, “Angry Chair”
In celebration of 30 years of the Dirt album, Alice in Chains are releasing a massive 30th anniversary box set that’s expected to ship in late October. The band has also spent time on the road this summer with Breaking Benjamin and Bush, and tickets for the remaining shows may be found here.