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Alice in Chains ‘Flies’ in face of convention

“We never wanted to be a one-dimensional rock band,” said Jerry Cantrell, guitarist for Alice in Chains. “I couldn’t see parroting ourselves for 10 years.”

The band certainly avoided that stereotypical pitfall with its newest release , the seven-song EP “Jar of Flies.” Written and recorded in seven days, the record unveils a different side of Alice, not the typical hard grunge metal one might expect after hearing “Facelift” and “Dirt.”

Filled with harmonies, acoustic guitars and even a string quartet, “Jar” displays a softer, more flexible and diverse side of the band. “A friend’s girlfriend played cello, so we invited her and her quartet from the University of Washington to come down, and we just goofed around,” Cantrell said of their first-ever use of strings.

Although musically more serene, the lyrics as as poignant as ever. “We voice the songs in a different manner,” Cantrell said. “It’s kind of cool to have the combination: saying something harsh and heavy in the lyrics while musically playing something more peaceful.”

The band’s previous EP, “Sap,” another experimental record that deviated from the band’s normal sound, paved the way for further exploration on “Jar of Flies.”

“Sap” featured a few vocalists from the Pacific Northwest, such as Heart’s Ann Wilson, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and Mudhoney’s Mark Arm.

“Doing ‘Sap’ first and having it do as well as it did gave us more confidence to do something like (‘Jar of Flies’) and anything else that we do in the future ,” Cantrell said.

Overall, Cantrell wishes to tone down the attention placed on this particular record. “We just did it to have some fun,” he said, “so don’t take it too seriously.”

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