Alice in Chains’ Cantrell and Kinney look back on ‘Dirt’: “It was never a drug concept album”

When Alice in Chains released a 30th anniversary edition of their landmark 1992 album, Dirt, it surprised the band by reentering the top 10 of the Billboard chart. While the album is legendary for its dark, sometimes brutal lyrics about drug addiction, war, death and depression, the band feels that it’s wrong to think of Dirt — and by association, late frontman Layne Staley — as being completely miserable.

Speaking to Variety, guitarist Jerry Cantrell says Staley, who died in April 2002, was “truly a hilarious guy,” and that Dirt “dealt with a wide range of emotions and subject matter, beautiful and dark and everything in between.”

Drummer Sean Kinney adds, “Dirt was never a drug concept album and Layne wasn’t a d**k. He wasn’t tormented, but instead witty, funny and generous.”

Most importantly, Cantrell and Kinney are still incredibly proud of Dirt, which has sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. Released during the time that they, along with other Seattle bands like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, were leading the grunge movement and changing the music industry, Cantrell notes that era was “one of the few times in my lifetime where it felt like the good guys were winning.”

“Dirt was a hell of a record,” Cantrell tells Variety. “It stands the test of time, and it’s a powerful piece of work without an ounce of fluff.”

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