Sean Howard Kinney (born May 27, 1966) is an American musician best known for being the co-founder and drummer of the rock band Alice In Chains. Kinney also founded the short-lived supergroup Spys4Darwin, and has collaborated with Johnny Cash, Metallica, and with his Alice in Chains bandmate Jerry Cantrell on his solo album Boggy Depot.


Kinney's interest in music was developed at an early age. He got his first drum kit when he was 5. By the age of 9, he was keeping the beat for his grandfather's band, The Cross Cats, and traveling the Northwest playing small venues. Kinney grew up in Renton, Washington, where he attended Liberty Senior High School in the Issaquah School District.

Alice In ChainsEdit

Kinney met Layne Staley around 1985, when Staley's band Sleze was playing at Alki Beach. Kinney revealed to Guitar Legends magazine that in their first meeting he told Staley that he was cool but his band sucked, and that he should get a different drummer, so Kinney suggested himself. Kinney did not have a phone at the time, so he gave Staley a piece of paper with his girlfriend's number. Kinney met up with Alice in Chains in 1987 when he was dating the sister of bassist Mike Starr, Melinda. Guitarist Jerry Cantrell wanted to form a new band after his band Diamond Lie broke up, so his roommate Layne Staley gave him the phone number of Kinney's girlfriend, so that Cantrell could talk to him and set up a meeting. Kinney and his girlfriend went to the Music Bank in Seattle where Cantrell was living and listened to his demos. Cantrell mentioned that they needed a bass player to jam with them, and he already had someone in mind: Mike Starr, with whom Cantrell had played in a band in Burien called Gypsy Rose. Kinney then mentioned that his girlfriend was actually Starr's sister, and that he had been playing in bands together with Starr since they were kids. Kinney called Starr and a few days later he started jamming with him and Cantrell at the Music Bank, but they didn't have a singer. Cantrell, Starr and Kinney wanted Staley to be their lead singer, so they started auditioning terrible lead singers in front of Staley to send a hint. The last straw for Staley was when they auditioned a male stripper – he decided to join the band after that. Starr was replaced by former Ozzy Osbourne bassist Mike Inez in 1993.

Kinney has been the only drummer of Alice in Chains. He also played piano and sang chorus vocals through a megaphone on the hidden song from Sap entitled "Love Song". The album was named after a dream Kinney had about the band recording some light acoustic songs for an album they named Sap, because it's "sappy."

Alice in Chains was inactive from 1996 onwards due to Layne Staley's drug issues, which resulted in his death in April 2002. In 2005, Kinney came up with the idea of reuniting with the other two surviving members of Alice in Chains, Jerry Cantrell and Mike Inez, to perform at a benefit concert for the victims of the tsunami disaster that struck South Asia in 2004. Kinney made calls to his former bandmates, as well as friends in the music community, such as former Alice in Chains manager Susan Silver. Kinney was surprised by the enthusiastic response to his idea, and the band performed for the first time in 10 years at the K-Rock Tsunami Continued Care Relief Concert in Seattle on February 18, 2006, featuring guest vocalists singing Staley's parts.

On March 6, 2006, the band performed together again at VH1's Decades Rock Live concert, honoring fellow Seattle musicians Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson of Heart. That night they played "Rooster" with Comes with the Fall vocalist William DuVall and Ann Wilson. DuVall joined Alice in Chains as lead singer shortly thereafter. The band has toured extensively worldwide since then. The album Black Gives Way to Blue, the first without Staley, was released on September 29, 2009 featuring DuVall as the new vocalist. The album was totally funded by Kinney and Cantrell, as the band did not have a record label at the time. Their fifth studio album, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, was released on May 28, 2013. Alice in Chains' sixth studio album (and the third with DuVall) is set to be released in the summer of 2018.

Other ProjectsEdit

In 1996, Kinney joined singer Johnny Cash, guitarist Kim Thayil of Soundgarden, and bassist Krist Novoselic of Nirvana for a cover of Willie Nelson's "Time of the Preacher", featured on the tribute album Twisted Willie. In the same year, Kinney played drums for his Alice in Chains bandmate Jerry Cantrell's first solo song, "Leave Me Alone", featured on the soundtrack of the 1996 film The Cable Guy.

In 1998, Kinney played drums for Cantrell's first solo album, Boggy Depot, and percussion in the song "Tuesday's Gone", a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd released on Metallica's 1998 album Garage Inc., also featuring Cantrell on guitar.

After they toured as part of Cantrell's solo band in 1998, Kinney and Queensrÿche guitarist Chris DeGarmo formed a new band called Spys4Darwin. Alice in Chains' bassist Mike Inez and Sponge lead vocalist Vin Dombroski joined the band soon after. The band released their first and only album on May 18, 2001, a 6-track EP entitled Microfish, and made their live debut at Endfest in Seattle on August 4, 2001.

Since 2009, Kinney co-owns the club The Crocodile in Seattle with Alice in Chains' manager Susan Silver, and Capitol Hill Block Party co-founder Marcus Charles purchased the establishment. In 2013, Rolling Stone named The Crocodile as one of the best clubs in America, ranked at #7.

Soundgarden lead vocalist Chris Cornell personally asked Kinney to join him, Mike McCready, Matt Cameron, Barrett Martin and Duff McKagan in the tribute show to the band Mad Season at Seattle's Benaroya Hall on January 30, 2015. Kinney played bongo for the song "All Alone" while a track with Layne Staley's original vocals were played. The performance was released as a live album in August 2015, entitled Mad Season / Seattle Symphony: Sonic Evolution / January 30, 2015 / Benaroya Hall.


In 1995, Alice in Chains was contemplating making a third studio album. When it was official, Kinney drew out artwork for the cover and liner notes. The cover features a three-legged dog, reason being, there was a three-legged dog named Tripod that used to terrorize Kinney and chase him around during his paper-work duty when he was a kid. In the music video for "Grind", it shows a three legged dog (similar to the one that allegedly used to chase Kinney) walking up a stairway with an elderly man.

The cover art of Black Gives Way to Blue (2009), an illustration of a heart surrounded by a black background, was Kinney's basic concept.