Alice In Chains: We Hate The Internet, Twitter & Dancing

from the well,-okay-then dept

Too often, it seems like arguments over the role of the internet in the music industry get boiled down to what I’d guess is a false dichotomy. Either you embrace the hell out of the digital revolution, like Amanda Palmer, or you angrily screed against all things interwebz, like AC/DC. As evidenced both by the fact that AC/DC walked their hard-line back a few steps later on, while other bands still find value in labels that embrace digital models, I’d bet that the stance of most artists and bands is far more nuanced than you’d expect, and takes on the characteristics more of an evolution than any static opinion. This isn’t to say that ignorance shouldn’t be called out, of course, but we should also understand that opinions can be changed and none of these artists are scary boogeymen to be universally derided.

Still, it’s extremely disappointing when an artist or band you love comes out on the attack. The more vicious the attack, the more disappointing it is. Needless to say, when the resurrected Alice In Chains saw an interview with Classic Rock as an opportunity to tell everyone how much they hate Twitter, the internet, the modern music industry and dance routines, I was supremely disappointed.

In an interview in the upcoming new issue of Classic Rock, the band reveal there’s a lot of stuff they don’t like about the biz. Like the internet. And downloading. And Twitter. And whole lot more besides…

“I don’t like a whole lot of it, no,” says mainman Jerry Cantrell. “I think the thing that’s most disappointing to me is that now, what you do is worth less than nothing. It’s been reduced to a game show. And somehow, something you’ve worked on and poured your soul into, and invested your money in, somehow it’s no longer deemed valuable. That’s fucked up, to me. I can’t go to the gas station and take the gas for free – I’d go to jail. But somehow it’s okay to take my thing for free.”

Er, okay then. Except nobody with a serious opinion on the matter is advocating that infringement (nor, um, stealing gas?) is “okay.” That’s just not happening. The argument is an economical one, in which there is indeed value and worth in digital music, but the proper price for those goods might best be made zero or approaching zero. This is not some conspiratorial plan to siphon money away from bands. Rather, it’s a look at how they can actually make more money in arenas where higher prices make sense due to scarcity. I fear that terms like “worth less than nothing” belie a fundamental misunderstanding of the economic forces at work here. Bassist Mike Inez goes on to wonder where the next generation of artists is going to come from, while the answer is: from more places and in greater quantities than ever before.

Were that the band’s only misguided stance, we could write it off as an honest misunderstanding. There appears, however, to be a great deal of anger from Alice In Chains on many things modern.

“And now it’s okay for music to be this little file that doesn’t even sound good,” Cantrell adds. “And it’s okay for people to go on stage and fucking fake the songs. They don’t want the real thing, they don’t want the bad notes, they don’t want somebody who can go up there and sing their own songs, they just want somebody that can do the fucking flashy dance moves.”


“There used to be a mystique about rock bands,” chips in drummer Sean Kinney, “but now it’s like, ‘Follow me on Twitter!’ I don’t wanna know what fuckin’ sandwich you ate at the airport, man. Because we’re just people. Our job isn’t all that more interesting than anybody else.

I keep up with a great number of follows on Twitter, which is probably why I have yet to hear about anyone eating a sandwich in an airport. I also wonder, regarding the hateful prevalence of dancing in music, if the band is familiar with the past four decades of musical acts.

Regardless, I’m hoping the band is more nuanced and has a more evolutionary thought-process about these things than how they’re coming off in the interview. I should probably disclose that they have long been a favorite of mine. I just like the internet a bit more.

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Comments on “Alice In Chains: We Hate The Internet, Twitter & Dancing”

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Rikuo (profile) says:

“”but now it’s like, ‘Follow me on Twitter!’ I don’t wanna know what fuckin’ sandwich you ate at the airport, man. Because we’re just people. Our job isn’t all that more interesting than anybody else.”

If the only thing you can think to say on Twitter is what sandwich you ate and that your job is just as boring as everyone else’s…then how the hell do you get off calling yourself an artist, an entertainer? You’ve just admitted to being boring as fuck and thus NOT WORTH LISTENING TO.

LJW (profile) says:

It’s disappointing to see a band full of people younger than myself acting like ignorant old men. Jerry, your record label has been ripping you off since the beginning. Maybe you should direct your anger at them.

How many times will it take for a band to attack it’s own fans to learn it’s not their fan’s job to monetize their talent. Get off your lazy duffs and put some effort into it. You’re in a band! If you want job security go work at Walmart, oh wait, that won’t work either.

Get used to it losers. Develop a brain of your own instead of taking everything your record label says as fact. Instead
of just grabbing your next album, I’m going to have to give it some serious thought given your new anti-fan stance.

See how hard is it to make money without fans! :O

gorehound (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Bunch of Sold-Out Artists ! Fuck them and Fuck the MAFIAA !
I am not pissed at the Internet and I am 57 years old.Went to my first punk show in 1976.I just loved the whole Anti-Music Scene cause to me punk was Us Giving the Finger to the Big Sold-Out Music and of course we all were misfits that hate the government.

I still play punk rock and pretty much give all my Art away.I will accept “Donations” but feel free to Download.Put us in your videos, webpages, whatever, ETC cause WE DON’T CARE !
Just make sure to give us a credit and I am cool.I also seed on TPB so to all you older rockers.If you can’t love the Internet then go find a hole somewhere and stick your head in like that Ostrich.
Meanwhile want a lot of Free Stuff……….
Let the Downloading begin ! And Never End cause Sharing is Caring !
And I Ain’t a Cheeepie Greedster !


Re: Re: Re: ...ignoring opportunity cost of course.

No. It’s more like “If you could buy a computer, then you could have bought my CD instead”. The problem is that once you’ve bought the computer, you might not have anything left over for the CD. That’s how it was with the my first computer. Barely managed to scrape together enough for it. Didn’t have money for extra software afterwards.

It’s opportunity cost.

The same goes for other CDs too. You’re just might not be on the short list accommodated for by what meager budget the listener has. Some other guy might have gotten his $1 royalty instead.

Your sad rant is not going to make the customer any richer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Sad sad technophobes. Pirating isn’t *right* but it’s not the same as stealing gas. If he could clone gas then it would be a viable arguemnt. Now sure, they are well within their rights to be upset that someone downloads their music, and deservedly so. They do work hard to create something.

That being said, A how much fucking money do you already have? Shouldn’t you be doing it for the love of music now?

B perhaps you learn that the days of record labels supporting the artists is over, and that if you want to be successful in this day and age, you will need to make a connection with your fans. Example: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

It still doesn’t justify piracy, but they have to at the very least understand that it’s making an unauthorized copy, not theft as theft implies something was lost.


Re: Old man yells at Cloud (redux)

No. None of the things you’ve mentioned justify piracy.

Although the age of their relevant works does.

With digital, there are no more new formats to force fans of old works to buy them again for absolutely no reason.

This is a has-been band that has to live off of the notoriety of a musical movement (or fad) that has come and gone already. It’s even a little ironic that the band is a bunch of posers as well. They started out as a hair band and changed their sound when Grunge went mainstream.

They should whine less and get out there and hit the Indian Casino and State Fair circuit.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Re: I can kinda get where they're coming from

Oddly enough, Macklemore/Ryan Lewis and Alice in Chains are both from Seattle.

And honestly, I can kinda understand the whole twitter aversion (Didn’t see the point of it when it came out, still don’t now). For popular bands these days, people love hearing constant updates about whatever the band members are doing this very second. Fact is, some people still have this belief that we don’t need to get on the Internet bullhorn and shout out whatever is we’re doing at the moment just because.

I think Sean’s point is pretty much if Alice in Chains is going to let the world know what they’re doing, they’ll do it the old-fashioned way: with a old-fashioned press-release.

As for their complaints about how much their music is worth these days, considering on how their contract was probably written, they’re probably getting under 10% of the income that their songs actually generate (the line from Macklemore’s “Jimmy Iovine” popped into my head about “7 percent to split” and whatnot). And with the advent of the Internet, their already tiny slice of the revenue pie may have declined in the past decade or so due to brief lapses in popularity/Internet piracy/rewritten contracts with record labels. so I’m not surprised that Alice In Chains would be unhappy about the apparent worth of their music.

And much as you think that the days of record labels supporting artists is over, here’s a little food for thought: Macklemore’s singles are getting a lot of radio play in part to the fact that he hired out Time Warner’s promotions department to help get his debut album out in the open (y’know, for all those unaware of the awesomeness that is Youtube/still listen to the radio).

The success of The Heist can be attributed to how the relationship between the record label and the artist should be. Not the “I sold my soul to the record label in order to make it to the big time” relationship, but a “I am the artist, the label’s job is just to distribute my music on a per album basis”.

Still, both groups make great music as far as I’m concerned.

Votre (profile) says:

Jerry needs to take a basic course in economics some day.

I’ve been a working musician, and the one thing I learned early on is to forget about preaching “art” to the masses. By all means do art. But when it comes to music, there’s the art and there’s the business aspect. And the two don’t always march in step.

You can do art any way you want for as long as you want. However, just because you are producing something that is ‘artistically valid’ does not also mean it is automatically viable as a commercial product.

When you want to sell something, it has little to do with you want and everything to do with what the potential customer wants.

I haven’t found too many people willing to part with cash in exchange for just allowing you to do your own thing the way you want to do it.

Also to the point of value – it’s really all from the perspective of the guy with the nickle. You can argue about the effort and money you put into something till you’re blue in the face. (And what difference should that make anyway?) But if your prospective buyer disagrees with what you’re asking for your ‘product’ you’re SOL. To him, it’s only worth what he says it is. Sure you can try to ‘educate’ him to see it your way. But if he doesn’t, you have two basic choices: change it so he does – or go do something else more rewarding with your time.

The era of the powerful record labels and rock gods are over. Music is largely a commodity. And it’s once again becoming more and more the domain of the amateur musician. As musical performance has been for most of human history.

Best get used to it.

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: "Music is largely a commodity. ... Best get used to it."

Horribly depressing notion, more so as you seem to imply one must only listen to recently made tunes. BUT there is a hundred years of music more or less available. I missed MANY good tunes in the 80’s (largely because I hadn’t learned French), besides decades prior. Likely problem is that you kids will find them, er, unappealing, besides that your peers won’t understand: music is now definitely not about music, but a social in-group function. For instance, I’m never going to understand the appeal of heavy metal because not a devil-worshipping nihilist.

out_of_the_blue says:

Price: value, plus a sum for the wear and tear...

on conscience in demanding it. Ambrose Bierce. (You’d all do well to read his Devil’s Dictionary, not least to learn there’s little new since.)

A Techdirt notion is that price depends on value. That’s not even true for essentials, let alone entertainments. So put aside that notion and just see that everyone is going to charge all that they can (or until the price point is found, hope) to get. I’m still surprised that individual tunes are selling for a buck on Itunes: that’s MORE in real terms than back in LP days, yet the cost of reproduction is almost nil. So in practical terms it’s not even true. Believing it hinders analysis.

Now, it’s MY fault for reading Timmy, but though I’ve heard of AIC without ever knowingly heard any of their tunes and I’m sure would despise them if appeal to Timmy, I find they make sense as geezers. You’ll understand why they rant about the good old days if ever grow up. — But setting that aside, it IS true that when the market is flooded with crap, any given piece of it becomes almost valueless. I’ve said that part of what record companies did was filter out the worst crap to at least those competent with their instruments, but it’s impossible now that anyone can “create”; more importantly, the price for tunes will drop to near zero, indeed. The prior market control created scarcity for good reason: music isn’t actually valuable. (That assertion has set Timmy off before; I repeat it because relevant.) SO, you kids are left with trying to sell scarcity, and guess what? — No one is going to buy music because of what the musician had for lunch. There isn’t any REAL scarcity to sell!

[BTW, slightly relevant: people are clinging to Windows XP because familiar and works well enough. Microsoft can’t indefinitely create artifificial scarcity by designing in new incompatibilities, and there’s VERY little new function to be had, so it’s similar to the bind musicians are in.]

Landpaddle (profile) says:

Re: Re: Opposite game

Alternatively, just about every artist signed to Bandcamp ever.

Hell, half the reason people pirate is because of how stupidly difficult buying off of Amazon or similar services can be. People like to hear the music, in full, over and over again, before purchasing full quality for portable listening. That’s just how it goes, and artists (and labels) should learn to respect that.

bob (profile) says:

worth less than nothing

so… if I pay to keep it OFF my pandora list, is that technically less than nothing?

overall, it could be that they dind’t have much to say and decided to rant about something they didn’t truly understand but had heard things about.
it doesn’t really seem well thought out.
so, maybe it was a stab at saying something that would tantalize, not realizing how backwards the statements were.

I didn’t know they were back together.
I’ll have to hop onto TPB to see if there are any new songs. ;-P

Anonymous Coward says:

Another drug rotten mind bits the dust.

But this hatred for all things digital is not only for bands apparently.

The Livery Roundtable, Black Car Assistance Corp and various other car-hire companies actually got an injunction against Uber and Hailo.


Isn’t nice when entrenched powers keep whining about competition and how their market is being stole from them, like it is their God granted right to tell others what to listen, where to listen, how to listen, how to use, where to use or even if they could use or have access at all at services and goods.

Anonymous Coward says:

A slightly different read on one of Cantrell's remarks

And it’s okay for people to go on stage and fucking fake the songs. They don’t want the real thing, they don’t want the bad notes, they don’t want somebody who can go up there and sing their own songs, they just want somebody that can do the fucking flashy dance moves.”

I think he’s railing here against the slickly-packaged acts that use pitch correction, loops, tapes, etc. to essentially turn their live performances into the equivalent of their overproduced studio work. Nobody can play a bad note, because the keyboards are sequenced; nobody can sing off-pitch because it’s all corrected; and really the only “live” aspect of the performance is the dancing and light show, which might be impressive…but it’s not music, it’s the show.

I would rather watch a band sweat to pull off a performance, complete with occasional missed cues, bum notes, off-pitch singing, etc., because it’s REAL. It’s the essence of a LIVE show. If I want to see their slick video, I can watch that anytime without shelling out $30 or $60 or $120 or whatever it is. What I want is (to borrow a theme from Techdirt) is the scarcity of “now” — a performance that is unique and local, never to be repeated quite the same way.

I saw John Wesley Harding recently, and that is EXACTLY the kind of performance he gave. I bought two of his CDs after the show. I’ve bought more since and given them as gifts. I’ll probably buy still more, not just because the music is terrific, but because his live, personal, unique, engaging performance was so memorable.

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

Re: A slightly different read on one of Cantrell's remarks

Maybe. But if a band uses these techniques to create a show that attracts an audience, is there something inherently wrong with it? On one hand, I agree, if I go to a live show I’d rather experience something real, with all its blemishes. On the other hand, these are matters of taste and opinion. I, for one, refuse to assert my opinion as definitive.

What Cantrell expressed seems more of a judgemental rant to me than merely an expressed opinion.

Of course, it’s his right to hate everything that’s not just how he wants it to be, just as much as it’s my right to feel contempt for anybody who can’t accept that it’s OK for people not to agree with him.

Else says:

They're right

Know exactly where they’re coming from. There is no depth to music these days. No soul. It’s all electronic bleep, blahp, blop shit. Maybe a gem will fall through the minutia on occasion but it’s mostly bilge. The mystery of dissecting the notes played, hearing a mistake or audible chord twang or whisper in the studio, decoding lyrics, researching the band meanings on your own is no more. These days if a member sharts it’s online. NO mystery. Then there were the cool albums that provided something tangible – something SOLID to hold in your moist, anticipatory hands. They not only provided the media, but pictures, lyrics, liner notes, song credits, member info, and if you were lucky a poster, etc. CD’s came and ruined that but at least you still had something in your possession, and maybe some cool pics. Now? A computer screen. And air. Big. Fuckin. Whoop.

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: They're right

No they aren’t. No you don’t. Yes there is. No it isn’t.

I think I hear where you’re coming from but you’re sort of looking at the world through your rear view mirror.

Cry, die, rage or move on. Discover the rest of your lives, nothing has changed. There is simply more and it’s not all hand-selected production formed spoon fed radio waves bullshit.

Fuck people, wake the fuck up.


love it or hate it. if you don’t embrace technology you are going to get left behind. if it wasn’t for the internet I would have never heard of all these bedroom self produced musicians that I love. but at the same time I live a good live show. just saw how to destroy angels and it blew my Fucking mind. mr reznor has embraced technology and it’s paid off. he is still relevant after 25 years. complaining about progress is most likely not going to change anything. it’s just gonna get you left in the dust.

PaulT (profile) says:

Disappointing. When I was a teenager with little disposable income, a lot of my music was either borrowed or copied in some ways. Alice In Chains’ Dirt album was one that I had “pirated”, and I enjoyed it immensely. Enough to later buy it twice (once of tape, later on CD). I’ve subsequently bought all of their albums and seen them live in concert, as well as having owned some merchandise.

I agree with a few of the things he appears to be trying to say, but it’s rather badly said, and based on the fantasy that the things he hates are new. He’s a moron if he believes that these things have not always existed. Pop music has always been about people prancing around on stage lip syncing, not being “real” musicians. People have always pirated his music. People have always listened to his music in a format that’s less than optimal (the aforementioned pirate tape I had was a 3rd gen dub – with appropriate loss of sound fidelity – that I often listened to on a Walkman). Fans have always wanted access to more information about their favourite acts – the idea of “mystique” is bull, as is the idea that you have to talk about inane crap if you have a Twitter account.

I’ll still buy their next album when it comes out at the end of the month, and I’ll happily see them live again should I get the opportunity. But this is really what’s killing the careers of older musicians – they not only refuse to adapt, but seem to have a woeful lack of understanding of how things actually were when they were starting out. Like many arguments against piracy and the internet, it’s based on fiction.

relghuar says:

Who again?

“I don’t like a whole lot of it, no,” says mainman Jerry Cantrell. “I think the thing that’s most disappointing to me is that now, what you do is worth less than nothing. It’s been reduced to a game show. And somehow, something you’ve worked on and poured your soul into, and invested your money in, somehow it’s no longer deemed valuable. That’s fucked up, to me.

Sorry, must have missed it somehow – is he a musician, or a horse carriage driver from 100 years ago?

alittlebitter says:

Money isn't the issue...

They are right, even if bitter, or old. I don’t have the same respect for music and many things that are over shared and disposed for something ‘better’ on the magical internet that we can’t even understand before it creates emptiness that we can. There was a line that we crossed for the worse, like taking a jump into an abyss

thetruth says:

just us and the internet

Do you ever feel satisfied? Do you remember what satisfaction felt like that lasted listening to a good album that you paid for and took your time and enjoyed? Now you can listen to five at once for free while you sit and work online and never really live anymore as you are spoon fed the digital american dream and propoganda

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