Alice N' Chains
Alice N' Chains
(Clockwise from top left)
Nick Pollock, Johnny Bacolas,
Layne Staley, James Bergstrom
|Origin||Seattle, Washington, U.S.|
Alice N' Chains was an American glam metal band from Seattle, Washington, formed in 1986 by former members of Sleze. Toward the end of their run as Sleze, discussions arose about changing their name to Alice in Chains. However, due to concerns over the reference to female bondage, the group ultimately chose to spell it as Alice N' Chains. They performed under this moniker over about a 12-month period and recorded two demos before breaking up on friendly terms in 1987. One of its members, Layne Staley, ultimately took the name that he and his former bandmates had initially flirted with when he joined a different group a few months later that became known as Alice in Chains.
Vocalist Layne Staley, guitarist Nick Pollock, bassist Johnny Bacolas, and drummer James Bergstrom began performing in what would become the last lineup of Sleze in 1986, when founding member Bacolas rejoined after a brief stint in another band called Ascendant and took up the bass slot for the first time; originally he played guitar. After his return, Bacolas says the band began to discuss changing their name to Alice in Chains due to a conversation he had with Russ Klatt, singer from Slaughterhouse Five:
[W]e were talking about different concepts for backstage passes. It would say, like, 'Sleze: The Welcome to Wonderland Tour.' That ended up turning into a discussion - we were talking about changing the band name. And we were saying, 'Alice in Wonderland? How about this, how about that? Maybe...Alice in Chains? We could put her in bondage stuff!' I liked the ring [of] 'Alice in Chains' - I remember I came back to the next band rehearsal and I told the guys. The issue was the reference to bondage, which our parents would not go for. Layne's mom was very hardcore Christian. So we ended up changing it to Alice 'N Chains, which made it more like 'Alice and Chains.
However, Staley's mother Nancy McCallum has said she still did not approve of this at first:
I had a sense of humor about the name Sleze. But when [Layne] came home and said they were changing the name to Alice 'N Chains, I was not happy. I said, 'Honey, that is female bondage. You don't want to choose a name like that - it's going to push your female audience away. I really feel strong about this.' He was adamant and I was adamant. For the first time in my life, I didn't have much of a conversation with him for about two weeks, because I was concerned, and also offended. How could my child possibly choose a name like 'Alice N' Chains?
Johnny Bacolas stated that the decision to use the apostrophe-N combination in their name had nothing to do with the Los Angeles band Guns N' Roses. The name change happened in 1986, a year before Guns N' Roses became a household name with their first album Appetite for Destruction, which was released in July 1987.
Alice N' Chains recorded two demos known primarily as "Demo No. 1" and "Demo No. 2"; both from 1987. Physical copies of the cassettes are extremely rare as only 100 of "Demo No. 1" were made, although bootleg copies can be found on filesharing programs.
Pre-production for "Demo No. 1" began whilst the band were still calling themselves Sleze and with a different bass player named Mike Mitchell, who appears on the tracks "Fat Girls" and "Over the Edge" according to producer Tim Branom. Recording for these two tracks took place at London Bridge Studio with the help of its founding engineer brother Rick and Raj Parashar. A few months later, Mitchell left the band and Bacolas rejoined as their bass player. They added one more song called "Lip Lock Rock" to the demo before changing their name to Alice N' Chains.
Demo No. 1 track listing
- "Lip Lock Rock" – 4:24
- "Fat Girls" – 3:39
- "Over the Edge" – 2:44
Demo No. 2 track listing
- "Sealed with a Kiss" – 2:49
- "Ya Yeah Ya" – 3:11
- "Glamorous Girls" – 2:48
- "Don't Be Satisfied" – 3:27
- "Hush, Hush" – 2:29
- "Football" – 2:01
Post-Alice N' Chains
Shortly after Alice N' Chains broke up, Staley joined a different group of musicians led by guitarist Jerry Cantrell that eventually took up the name Alice in Chains. This band rose to international fame as part of the grunge movement of the early 1990s, along with other Seattle bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. Staley also formed the supergroup Mad Season along with Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin and bassist John Baker Saunders.
Meanwhile, Pollock formed the band My Sister's Machine, taking up mostly vocal duties as their primary lyricist. He later sang in the band Soulbender, which also featured Queensrÿche guitarist Michael Wilton.
Bergstrom became a founding member of the band Second Coming and was later joined by Bacolas, who replaced Ron "Junkeye" Holt on bass. Staley made a guest appearance on their debut album L.O.V.Evil. This band signed to Capitol Records in May 1998 and recorded two more studio albums and one extended play before breaking up in 2008. Since then, Bacolas has recorded and released music with the bands The Crying Spell and Lotus Crush.
- Ramirez, Carlos. "Top 10 Musicians with Hair Metal Pasts". Noisecreep. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
- Friendly Reminder: Alice in Chains Began as a Hair Metal Band
Retrieved 13 August 2016
- Music Bank (Media notes). Alice in Chainz. Columbia Records. 1999. 69580.CS1 maint: others (link)
- Greg Prato (2009). "Dark, black, and blue: Soundgarden, Alice in Chains"". Grunge is Dead:The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music. ECW Press. pp. 215–216. ISBN 978-1-55022-877-9.
- Boehm, Mike (May 15, 1992). "MSM: Newest Vein of Gold in Seattle's Hard-Rock Quarry". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
- de Sola, David (August 4, 2015). Alice in Chains: The Untold Story. Thomas Dunne Books. p. 46. ISBN 978-1250048073.
- "Alice in Chains: Through the Looking Glass". Rolling Stone. 26 November 1992. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
- "Alice in Chains - "Nothing Safe" Rockline Interview, Jul 19. 1999". YouTuve. Retrieved November 22, 2017.
- "AlternativeNation.Net - The Origins Of Alice In Chains: A Retrospective". Alternativenation.net. 2014-11-25. Retrieved 2014-11-25.
- MSM: Newest Vein of Gold in Seattle's Hard-Rock Quarry, "Los Angeles Times" May 15, 1992. Retrieved on April 28, 2011.
- "Soulbender Guitarist Happily Does Double Duty". Straight.com. 12 August 2004. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
- "Layne Staley Songs in 'Grassroots' Film Have Previously Surfaced". loudwire.com. Retrieved 2011-12-11.
- Prato, Greg. "Second Coming Allmusic". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-12-11.