Anthrax’s Scott Ian on Alice In Chains: “They were just f**king goofballs”

Anthrax’s Scott Ian and Jerry Cantrell and Layne Staley of Alice In Chains
(Image credit: Press/Krasner/Trebitz /Redferns)

Metal Hammer 366 Slipknot cover

(Image credit: Future)

In the brand new issue of Metal Hammer, we mark the 30th anniversary of Alice In Chains ’ iconic Dirt album by asking more than 20 of metal’s top stars to pick the greatest songs the grunge icons ever recorded.

Among the musicians we spoke to are Max Cavalera, ex-Slayer guitarist Kerry King, Lzzy Hale, Zakk Wylde, Killswitch Engage singer Jesse Leach and Oceans Of Slumber’s Cammie Gilbert, between them picking such AIC classics as Would?, Them Bones, Down In A Hole and Black Gives Way To Blue.

One of the people we spoke to was Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian, who chose Man In The Box as his favourite Alice In Chains song.  Scott encountered the band early in their career, when the unknown Seattle band opened 1991’s Clash Of The Titans tour.  Here, he talks about his memories of discovering AIC – and just why one of their most famous hits is really a pop song in disguise…

Metal Hammer line break

Scott Ian: “We were putting together the Clash Of The Titans tour with Anthrax and Slayer and Megadeth, we had a meeting to talk about support bands. And Dave Mustaine said, ‘Hey, check this out’, and handing me a CD of Alice In Chains’ first record,” says Scott. I hadn’t even heard of them, and I thought it was some hair band. And I put it on in the car on the way home and I was blown away. I could not believe how fucking good it was. It was not thrash and it was not 80s hard rock. They had the riffs, the hooks, the vocals, but there was this pop thing to it – I mean, Man In The Box is a straight-up pop song in terms of arrangement, but it’s so fucking heavy. Like, Black Sabbath heavy.

“That was thing about them. They had this darkness and brutality, but there was a beauty to it. There were so many dichotomies to what they did, and to them as people as well. I remember the first show they played on the Clash Of The Titans tour, and I expected them to just be up there shoegazing, but they were jumping around, headbanging, Layne was in the crowd’s faces. He’d jump in the crowd and fight people.

“There’s this myth of darkness around them, but those guys were just fucking goofballs. We stayed in the same hotels every day, there were many, many nights spent drinking with them, we’d go fishing with them. But when came to facing down thousands of Slayer and Megadeth and Anthrax fans, they would not back down. I had such respect for that then, and I still do today.”

Read the full list of the greatest Alice In Chains songs of all time, as picked by the stars, in the brand new issue out Metal Hammer. Order it online here and get it delivered to your doorstep.


Alice In Chains greatest songs from the latest issue of Metal Hammer

(Image credit: Future)

Metal Hammer 366 Slipknot cover

(Image credit: Future)
Metal Hammer

Founded in 1983, Metal Hammer is the global home of all things heavy. We have breaking news, exclusive interviews with the biggest bands and names in metal, rock, hardcore, grunge and beyond, expert reviews of the lastest releases and unrivalled insider access to metal's most exciting new scenes and movements. No matter what you're into – be it heavy metal, punk, hardcore, grunge, alternative, goth, industrial, djent or the stuff so bizarre it defies classification – you'll find it all here, backed by the best writers in our game.