The three surviving members of Alice in Chains were not sure the band would ever exist again after frontman Layne Staley was found dead from a drug overdose in April of 2002 at his Seattle home. But the group will release its "Black Gives Way to Blue," its first new album in 14 years, on Sept. 29 and made it to this point by taking the proverbial one step at a time.
"Losing Layne was such a huge thing, without a doubt, and such a challenge to even consider this," says guitarist Jerry Cantrell, who regrouped with drummer Sean Kinney and bassist Mike Inez, adding singer-guitarist William DuVall, in 2005.
"If we had looked at the big picture early on, it never would have happened. We just kept looking a little bit down the road and a little bit down the road, and here we are. We've come a long way in the last couple of years, you know. I just want to keep looking ahead at the next step."
The band continues to play all of its classics from the Staley years, and it's dedicated "Black Gives Way to Blue's" title track -- which features Elton John on piano -- to him. And Kinney says that even though it's moving forward the group still feels the presence of its late singer whenever it plays.
"He's there every night," says the drummer. "That's one of the main reasons we're doing it. I have no doubt that he'd be totally, 'Well, what took you guys so long?'
"It took me a long time for me personally to come to terms with even wanting to put myself in that situation, you know. This is the best way. We were all kind of in the same place, that felt like it was the right thing to do, you know. We bring him along in all our ways, you know, he's around us all the time."
Alice in Chains performs at 7 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 17) at St. Andrew's Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Tickets are sold out. Call (313) 961-6358 or visit www.livenation.com.
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