When one is offered the rare opportunity to converse with Alice In
Chains vocalist Layne Staley, that offer always comes with what might be
best called a conditional guarantee. Apparently nobody, including Staley
himself, knows exactly how communicative the mercurial frontman is going
to be on any given day. Much like his fellow Seattle resident Eddie
Vedder, Staley lives in a world of his own--a world often inhabited by
demons of all shapes and sizes. On some days those demons are friendly,
and a quick witted, almost loquacious Staley is allowed to come out and
play. But at other times those demons are nasty, and they imprison
Staley behind a veritable wall of silence and solitude. So when we sat
down with Staley for this interview, to promote AIC's latest EP, Jar Of
Flies, it was with the words of the band's publicist still ringing in
our ears; "If you find him uncooperative, you can always speak to Mike
Starr." Thankfully, ol' Layne was on his best behavior this day.

HP=Hit Parader LS=Layne Staley

HP: First off, where did the title Jar Of Flies come from?

LS: It came from a science experiment (AIC guitarist) Jerry Cantrell did
when he was in the third grade. They gave him two jars full of flies.
One of the jars they overfed, the other jar they underfed. The one they
overfed flourished for a while, then all the flies died from
overpopulation. The one they underfed had most of the flies survive all
year. I guess there's a message in there somewhere. Evidently that
experiment had a big impact on Jerry.

HP: How do you think the fans who got off on the heavy riffs of your
first two albums will react to the softer side of the band pressofter
side of the band

LS: To be honest, we don't really concern ourselves with that. It's
great if the fans love what we do and the guys at the record company
like it. But the bottom line is that we've got to love it. We had just
gotten off the road where we had traveled something like 50,000 miles,
and played ear-blasting music every night. We just wanted to go into the
studio for a few days with our acoustic guitars and see what happened.
We never really planned on the music we made at that time to be
released. But the record label heard it, and they really liked it. It
was more their idea to release it than it was ours. For us, it was just
the experience of four guys getting together in the studio and making
some music.

HP: Is this more acoustic direction something the band plans on
exploring more in the future?

LS: Maybe. We never plan anything like that. When we get together and
start writing and recording we never have any idea where it's going.
That's part of the fun. You've got as good a guess as we do where this
band will be a year from now. My guess is that we'll be cranking it up
again on the next record, but who knows?

HP: Alice In Chains have become media darlings over the last two years.
Do you enjoy that kind of attention?

LS: Honestly, it really makes no difference to us. If we're on MTV or
magazine covers or not has absolutely no impact on the music we make.
Sometimes I wish all those people would just go away. Most of them don't
really seem that interested in the music, they just want to stick their
nose in where it doesn't belong. We try to be real nice and friendly to
people, but sometimes they take advantage of that.

HP: You don't think the press has been fair with you?

LS: I really don't think about it one way or the other. They can say
whatever they want. It really has no impact on me. I just don't think
they're accurate that much of the time.

HP: What has the success of the band meant to you? Have you been able to
fulfill any of your dreams through the money you've made?

LS: Yeah, actually it's been kind of cool. I always wanted to build a
studio in my home, and now I've been able to do that. When the band has
some new ideas we want to try out, now we've got a place to do it. We
don't have to worry about booking studio time or anything like that.

HP: As you look ahead, when do you imagine you might begin work on a new

LS: We've already started writing new things. We're always writing. We
have a few ideas, but who knows when a record might be done? We'll go
and record when we feel we have enough material. With us, that could be
next week or next year. Actually, I'm pretty sure the way things are
going that we'll have a new album out before the year is over.

HP: When you're writing lyrics, what serves to motivate you?

LS: Just about anything and everything. I tend to write about whatever's
in my head at the moment. I can't say it's any particular thing. It's
not like I pick up the newspaper or watch the news for inspiration. It's
nothing that calculated. It could be something I feel or something I
notice around me. It's really hard to say.

HP: Do you think there'll be any extra pressure on the band this time
around considering how well your first two albums have done?

LS: Why should there be? You've got to notice the pressure before it has
any affect on you. We're kind of oblivious to things like that. We don't
look at the sale charts to see how many records we've sold. We know when
we've done something good. The only pressure this band will ever feel is
living up to our own expectations

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