“When I met with the band, I told Jerry Cantrell, ‘Metallica took Tony Iommi and sped him up. What you’ve done is you’ve slowed him down again.’ And he looked at me and said, ‘You got it.’ That’s how I got the gig. I totally understood what they were doing.
“A lot of producers – big producers – passed on the band because of Layne Staley’s voice. I loved his lower vocal sound, which was different from Gun N’ Roses and some other bands who were around then. Layne had one of the best singing voices I ever heard.
“We went to London Bridge in Seattle. The crew was great; Rick and Raj Parashar, who ran the place, they were terrific. It was a nice vibe. We cut basic tracks there, and then we went to Capital Studios in LA to do overdubs. I mixed it at Soundcastle over in Silverlake, which is where I did Jane’s Addiction.
“I never had any problems with the band on this record or on Dirt. There were some problems later on, which had to do with Layne’s addiction. But they were hot and ready to go on the first album. They did some drinking, but there were no drugs. It was funny: They wanted to know where the strip clubs in LA were. We were driving down Hollywood Boulevard, so I pointed to one called the Tropicana.
“A little while later, I went to see the band at the Oakwood apartments, where they were staying, and there were naked girls running around everywhere. I saw a Tropicana calendar sitting on a table with all these “X’s” over pictures of the girls’ faces – they were all the girls they had pulled from the club. [Laughs] Total rock ’n’ roll. They were livin’ it.
“I love this record. To me, it’s better than Dirt. The band had so much raw energy at the time, and it really comes through on the first album.”