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Alice in Chains reunion "Gives Way" to album, tour

By John Benson

CLEVELAND (Billboard) - Alice in Chains singer-guitarist Jerry Cantrell and drummer Sean Kinney say the band's new album, their first in nearly 14 years, doesn't stray too far from the Seattle band's influential catalog.

"Black Gives Way to Blue," due out September 29 on Virgin/EMI,is also the group's first effort with new singer-guitarist William DuVall.

"It's nice to sound like yourself," Kinney says with a laugh. "It's not really that hard, actually. I know people are blown away that we really sound like ourselves, and I understand the apprehension, but it's not really that big a stretch to sound the way that you sound."

Adds Cantrell, "We were just hoping to make the best record we possibly could, and we did that. Sean and I talk a lot about (how) when you do a record, you've been working on it a long time and you're pretty sick of it by the time somebody else hears it. You're already thinking of the next thing. And we're still listening to this. It's still like really exciting to listen to, and that's really good."

The group has booked a brief European run in August with a monthlong Stateside tour in September. Cantrell hints that more legs are due to follow.

"We're not going to stop touring when the record comes out," Cantrell tells Billboard.com. "That would be like an old pattern we're trying not to do again."

The album's lead single hasn't been announced, but new track "A Looking in View" is streaming on aliceinchains.com. Other new songs include "Your Decision" and "Check My Brain." Kinney says the 11-track album continues in the Alice in Chains tradition of tackling different styles and sounds, from the hard rock nature of "Dirt" to the acoustic-minded "Jar of Flies."

As for the recording of a new album, the band's first since its 1995 self-titled effort and the 2002 death of original singer Layne Staley from a heroin/cocaine overdose, nothing was certain when the band members reunited in 2006.

"It's been a really slow process," Kinney says. "As long as it felt genuine and it came from the right place, and we all were cool with it, then we'd take another little step. Two years ago we really weren't talking about doing a record. We were on tour and we've been playing and jelling together, and Will (DuVall) was getting incorporated into how things are going down. But we always had a jam space backstage where riffs and stuff started happening."

Both Alice in Chains members said the spirit of Staley remains with the band.

"He's always a part of my everyday life," Kinney says. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of him. And there's a lot to address, with all of that stuff coming to the forefront. A lot has happened since 1995, a lot has happened in our lives and we've never talked about it or discussed it publicly. So some of that is what's addressed here. That's the way we operate, it's about what really happened in life. We're not really the fast-cars-and-chicks songs. It's basically what's happened in life, but a lot has happened since the last record. And it's on this record."

(Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters)

(please visit our entertainment blog via www.reuters.com or on http://blogs.reuters.com/fanfare/)

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