How Alice In Chains Recorded Dirt During the LA Riots

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Alice in Chains were on a creative high circa 1992. 

After kicking down the door for grunge on Facelift, Dirt was where they got even heavier and expanded their depth as songwriters.

Before they played a note, the band were already having trouble outside the studio.

On the first day of recording, the verdict for the Rodney King trial came down, which led to riots during recording.

Jerry Cantrell remembers the band having to get out of town saying (49:50),

“Sure as shit, when the verdict came down and those cops got off, within minutes the town started erupting. This was the first load-in day. We had to either leave the studio with what we had or go home, grab a few clothes, and get out of town for a bit.”

Amid the destruction, producer Dave Jerden was concerned about Layne Staley’s drug habit saying,

From what I understand, Layne was running downtown during the riots scoring. So we’re worried about Layne and all this stuff, he was staying down at the beach. So he’s making that run on the 10 back and forth.”

While the band went to Joshua Tree to cool out, Cantrell described the unpleasant experience leaving the city saying,

“I remember the streets being full of people running around. There were buildings on fire. We stopped for gas and people were taking shit out of the stores. We just tried not to look anyone in the eye too much. Just get your shit and get out of town.”

Although the city turned into a war zone, Cantrell remembered getting some help from the thrash community saying,

“We went out to Joshua Tree with Tom Araya. He had a couple of dry peyote tabs and we hung out for 4 or 5 days. We dropped acid while we were out there.”

Most artists might want to start recording on the right foot, but the fact that Alice began Dirt with chaos makes too much sense. 

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