Sean Kinney, Amazing Drummer of Alice in Chains

When it comes to drummers, few can match the skill and precision of Sean Kinney. Best known as the drummer and co-founder of the rock band Alice in Chains, Kinney has been a driving force behind the band’s sound for over 30 years

He’s also known for his founding of the short-lived band supergroup Spys4Darwin, his collaborations with various artists, and his many achievements that have earned him the status of one of the best drummers in the industry.

This article will discuss how amazing he is as a musician, whether it’s with Alice in Chains or his work with other musicians. Keep following!

Sean Kinney’s biography

Sean Kinney Of Alice In Chains
Sean Kinney of Alice in Chains

Legendary musician Sean Kinney is well recognized for his role as Alice in Chains’ co-founder and drummer. He was born in Renton, Washington, on May 27, 1966. His parents are not someone who comes from the music industry. Kinney’s mother worked for the city, while his father was a police officer.

Kinney developed an interest in drumming when he was just 5 years old, the time when he received his first drum set. He joined his grandfather’s band, The Cross Cats, as their drummer at age 9 and began touring with them to play shows.

Growing up, Kinney attended Liberty Senior High School in the Issaquah School District, where he continued to hone his drumming skills

It was during this time that he met Jerry Cantrell, who would later become the lead singer and guitarist of Alice in Chains. The two bonded over their shared love of music and began playing together in various bands throughout their high school years.

Music career

Sean Kinney Performs On The Stage
Sean Kinney Performs on the Stage

Sean Kinney began his music career professionally in the 1980s, playing in various local bands in the Seattle area. It was around 1985 when he met singer Layne Staley and told him that his band Sleze “sucked.” Despite this, the two would eventually become close friends and collaborators. Kinney even became the band’s drummer for a short period.

In 1987, Kinney met up with Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell, who wanted to form a new band after his previous band, Diamond Lie, disbanded. Kinney joined the band as the drummer, and the rest of the band was created with Layne Staley as the lead singer and Mike Starr on bass. However, Starr was replaced by Mike Inez in 1993.

The band’s debut album, Facelift, was released in 1990. However, Kinney almost didn’t play on the album due to his broken hand. Thus, the band rehearsed with Greg Gilmore, the drummer from Mother Love Bone, as a backup.

But Kinney managed to recover and played drums on the album. The album was a commercial success and helped establish Alice in Chains as one of the leading bands of the Seattle grunge movement.

Throughout the 1990s, Alice in Chains released several successful albums and toured extensively. However, the band was inactive from 1996 onwards due to Layne Staley’s drug issues, which resulted in his death in April 2002.

In order to perform at a benefit concert for the victims of the tsunami disaster that rocked South Asia in 2004, Kinney came up with the idea of getting back together with the other two surviving members of Alice in Chains, Jerry Cantrell and Mike Inez. The band’s new chapter officially began with this; since then, they have published additional albums and continued to tour.

Other Projects

Drummer Sean Kinney
Drummer Sean Kinney

Throughout his career, Sean Kinney has been involved in several projects outside of Alice in Chains. In 1996, Kinney performed a cover of Willie Nelson‘s Time of the Preacher with guitarist Kim Thayil of Soundgarden, bassist Krist Novoselic of Nirvana, and singer Johnny Cash.

In 1996, Kinney also played drums for Cantrell’s first original solo song, Leave Me Alone, which was featured on the Soundtrack of the movie “The Cable Guy.” Following that, in 1998, Kinney played drums for Cantrell’s first solo album, Boggy Depot. The album received positive reviews from critics and was commercially successful.

Besides playing drums, he also established a business. Since 2009, Kinney has co-own the club The Crocodile in Seattle along with Alice in Chains manager Susan Silver. This venue is known for hosting a variety of local and international acts and is considered a staple in Seattle’s music scene.

Kinney served as a guest drummer on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers from September 17 to September 20, 2018. Kinney had a unique experience because it was his first time performing on national television.

These projects have allowed Kinney to showcase his versatility and have allowed him to collaborate with some talented musicians in the industry. Despite his busy schedule, Kinney continues to be an active music scene member.

Sean Kinney’s setup

Sean Kinney with Vater Percussion

Sean Kinney is known for his powerful and dynamic drumming style, and his setup is crucial to that sound.

Kinney’s primary drums are DW Collector’s Series (“Psychedelic Liberace” custom finish), known for their exceptional craftsmanship and sound quality.

He also uses DW hardware, which is known for its durability and precision. Kinney prefers to use Vater Nude Series Universal sticks, which are known for their balance and responsiveness.

Additionally, he uses Remo heads known for their warmth, projection, and durability. With this combination of high-quality instruments, Kinney is able to create a sound that is both powerful and nuanced, and that is an integral part of the Alice in Chains sound.


Throughout his career with the band Alice in Chains, Sean Kinney has been widely recognized for his powerful and energizing drumming style. His skills have been a crucial element in solidifying the band’s distinct sound and have played a significant role in their success

He has also been involved in other projects, such as founding the short-lived band supergroup Spys4Darwin, collaborating with various artists, and appearing in a music video as a drummer. Kinney’s drumming has earned him numerous accolades, and he is considered one of the top drummers in the industry.

What do you think?

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Written by Andrea

Andrea is a music lover and an experienced drummer with more than 15 years of drumming with different bands and music projects, such as Seditius and Hermano & the Marines.

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