Alice in Chains: 'We Don't Write Singles, We Make Albums'

Their next album isn't a concept record, but they say it lives up to the classic art of releasing a record to enjoy from start to end.

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Alice in Chains have hailed the art of making albums to enjoy from start to end in a new interview.

They don't like the modern trend of releasing a bunch of singles as an album, and prefer the classic art of releasing a full body of work to be appreciated as a whole, as they have with forthcoming album "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" which is due on May 28.

"We don't write singles. We'll always make an album," drummer Sean Kinney told Pure Volume. "We find a collection of songs. We record the songs we like and think about how we should sequence them. ["The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" is] not a concept album, but it's a 'full' record for us."

Guitarist Jerry Cantrell agrees, and makes a point of how much effort goes into the production of an album during the full recording cycle:

"We grew up listening to complete pieces of work," says Cantrell. "I don't think a lot of people are very aware of what it takes to do a record from the get-go. You're collecting ideas, getting together to play, working on pre-production, hiring somebody to spend six months locked in a room with you, and then you're mixing. Then, you go out and tour it for a year and a half.

"It's a chunk of time. It's a piece of your life. Within that, there's a lot of life lived - good and bad. It's regular old life, but it all gets crammed into that f--king record. It gets compressed like a time capsule."

Do you like albums that work better as a whole? Hit 'like' if you agree, and let us know what recent records live up to this goal in the comments.

36 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    big muff pedal
    And it shows, "Dirt" is a phenomenal trip into hell. Great record
    ZeppelinruleZ
    A trip into hell... eerie,I've never heard it described that way before. So true though
    K!!LsWiTcH
    especially when you realize layne and mike starr were on heroine the drummer was a walking drunk and jerry was depressed the whole time because of all of that while making the record
    gbrooks2
    "Dirt" to me was a trip FROM hell into... a more calm, realized part of hell.
    splash3
    I really respect that kind of approach. Then again, for a no-singles band they really wrote some damn good ones.
    Tonganation
    This explains a lot about their writing style. Every Alice in Chains record ever made has had it's own distinct sound, different from the others in ways but still unmistakably Alice. It's like they try to tell the story of what's happening in their lives at the moment through making a consistent album worth listening to front to back.
    Dannym95
    Amen to Alice in Chains. There's something definitely special and fulfilling about the album format. It challenges the lstenerr, and I think to an extent that's what music should do.
    gtrfreak182
    This is the reason why Alice In Chains will forever be one of my favorite bands, no one has the motivation to take this approach anymore. I can assure you that Dirt can not be made with a singles mentality. Each of their albums are distinct, centered, and by the time it's over, you feel like you've gotten the true experience of what they're trying to convey. Keep up the good work Alice In Chains.
    TryTheKetchup
    Well, according to simple logic, there should be something behind a piece's title, no matter if it is a song or an album or live album etc. And, once again, according to simple logic, everything this piece contains - songs, lyrics etc. - should reflect that something behind it's title. So yes, I agree, the album should work as a whole.
    gbrooks2
    Just because something makes sense to you does not make it "simple logic" Maybe avoid that term going forward.
    fromzero
    What was the reasoning behind the title iv? What about iii? ii? Do people love Led Zeppelin and those albums? Yeah. Not everyone but lot's of people. What about those Volbeat titles? Like 'Guitar Gangsters & Caddilac Blood'? Not always. Anyway... Pop music doesn't work off of albums. Rock music does. Rap music has but doesn't need to, same with country. Jazz must, blues too. Classical can be either way. If it works for you, do it. If it fails, try something new. Apply that anywhere.
    jjbarnes
    I completely disagree about blues. Blues is waaaaay more of a singles music.
    daken_1
    True. If artists just keep flushing out singles what purpose do the other songs on an album have but fillers, no matter how good they can be. Also I bet you won't be able to link single to album of one of the more popular mainstream artists. On a side note: one album I listened to recently that really did feel like a complete, unified experience was the new Deftones album "Koi No Yokan". I couldn't find any standout song, or listen to a single song on there without listening to the rest of the album.
    SOAD_SoG
    Some bands should follow that phrase...Bands like Megadeth with their new Super Collider single... Good on you AIC.
    白い雲
    It seems somewhat trendy right now for artists to extol the values of traditional music practices - daft punk and foo fighters come to mind. I think it's cool though. Japanese rock bands have to be the most extreme example of making albums composed of singles - I've seen a lot of bands release 5 singles with music videos, and then later release an 'album' with 2 or 3 new songs. In the end, if it's good music, it's all good, but I do enjoy a well put together album. I'd say Steven Wilson's "The Raven that Refused to Sing" is a good example of a new album that really does feel like a unified whole.
    kmister
    Intresting subject. My band is currently releasing our first single and have started recording our EP. The dilemma is that everyone involved in the product (Producers, distributers etc) are telling us to put all these tracks onto the album. I am more about making an album as a whole so I can convey a particular sound. Good to know the big bands still write albums
    CoattailRider9
    Foo Fighters put together albums too, but they're becoming so big every song on Wasting Light starts to sound like a single. I mean, if you listen to their older records you still get the gist of the big choruses they do. But yeah, I understand what you're talking about.
    -Retro-
    Dave said when Wasting Light was being finished that he was having trouble picking out the singles just because of how proud they were of it.
    BwareDWare94
    Jamey Johnson's The Guitar Song and Eric Church's Chief come to mind for full-on, excellent albums.
    gabehwkns1
    I definitely agree that an album should be enjoyed in its entirety as a single piece of work. But I do also think that individual songs should be able to stand on their own.
    UniformRecon
    The exact reason why I respect bands that produce their records on vinyl: they're meant to be played as an album, not as you just playing your favorite catchy ones on your iPod.
    dudebud
    This is great except the "singles" approach is hardly modern. The album was created by labels so fans would have to buy the whole record to get that one song. It started as a tactic to make money and ended because it no longer made money. It wasn't until bands like The Beatles & Pink Floyd got creative and made "concept albums" before it really became cool.
    kumamilesbear
    There are a number of modern artists I feel who make 'whole albums.' Mastadon certainly, while Stick To Your Guns' last two albums have both been excellent, whether listening to an individual song or the entire way through an album. Whole, cohesive albums is all Coheed & Cambria does, and all of Otep's albums have been, for me at least, full experiences. And of course Porcupine Tree and pretty much everything Steven Wilson does comes to mind.
    kumamilesbear
    That being said I completely agree with what they're saying in terms of wanting to make that kind of an album. My favorite kind of record is one where the strongs are individually powerful enough on their own, but when you listen to the album all the way through it's an incredible journey.
    gensel88
    i stopped worrying about singles a long time ago, i dont listen to the radio anymore anyway, besides i live in Maine and for example they wont play a single off a Lamb of god or God forbid album. So your kinda forced to buy the album and listen to the whole thing, which is fine by me, bands like Stone Sour and Volbeat are taking over rock radio.
    johnnylenss
    "It's a chunk of time. It's a piece of your life. Within that, there's a lot of life lived - good and bad. It's regular old life, but it all gets crammed into that f--king record. It gets compressed like a time capsule." This x 1000.
    screech n' moan
    This won't be a popular opinion, I'm sure, but "Black Gives Way To Blue" was the first album of theirs that carried one feeling thoroughly n' throughout the entire album. I'm not saying that I don't enjoy the older albums, I love them, but there's songs on those older albums (I Know Somethin', Sickman, etc.) that really jarred my focus from the "gently swelling depression" that is Alice In Chain's sound, to me.