Alice in Chains’ ‘Jar of Flies’ EP: 10 Facts Only Superfans Know

Although Alice in Chains is an EP, Jar with flies, which was published on Jan. 25, 1994, has a unique, compelling story behind it, explored in these facts only superfans would know.

And yet I fight / And yet I fight / This fight all alone / No one to cry to / No place to call home.”

It’s the haunting lyrics crooned by Alice in Chains‘deceased original frontman, Layne Staleyin the song “Nutshell.” Though The 1992s Dirt catapulted the Seattle band to mass mainstream success, this new set of softer, bluesy-folk tracks on Jar with flies showed that they could top the charts even when they weren’t playing loud and hard.

The release is often considered one of the band’s best, especially due to songs like “No Excuses” and “I Stay Away” in addition to “Nutshell”. The last time Staley would ever sing those words live was during the band’s 1996 performance on MTV’s Disconnected.

To celebrate the anniversary of Jar with fliesread 10 facts only superfans would know below.

1. The name came from one of Jerry Cantrell’s science experiments.

The album’s title derives from a scientific experiment Jerry Cantrell completed in third grade. “They gave him two jars full of flies,” Staley explained Hit Parades.One of the jars they overfed, the other jar they underfed. The they the overfed flourished for a while, then all the flies died of overpopulation. The one they underfed had most of the flies that all survived year. I think there’s a message in there somewhere. Apparently so experiment had a big impact on Jerry.

2. Photographer Rocky Schenck took the album cover seriously.

Rock Schenck, a photographer who worked with Alice In Chains on several occasions throughout their career, recalled how the idea for the EP’s cover came about in a post on his Instagram.

“It was just me and my assistant and a kid whose name I’ve forgotten. My assistant made several trips up the street to collect hundreds of flies with a butterfly net at some horse stables. The flies kept dying, the kid kept to complain , and my assistant kept collecting more flies. The album was nominated for a Grammy for Best Recording Package… and I still have the jars.”

Columbia Records

Columbia Records

3. They were homeless before they started recording it.

When the members of the band returned home to Seattle from the Lollapalooza tour in 1993, they discovered they had been evicted for nonpayment of rent. Thus they moved into London Bridge Studios – where the EP was eventually to be recorded.

4. But they hadn’t actually written songs when they went to the studio.

The band hired producer Toby Wright to collaborate on the project with them, but it turns out that there hadn’t actually been a project in mind yet. “I said, ‘Okay, let’s hear those songs.’ Jerry smiled and said, ‘Funny things about those songs … we don’t have any,'” Wright recounted AV Club. “I laughed and said, ‘So what are you guys going to do for the next 10 days?’ Cantrell said, ‘Mind if we just jam?'”

5. When the wheels began to turn, it was finished in seven days.

All seven songs were recorded in seven days at London Bridge Studios. According to David De Sola’s book Alice In Chains: The Untold Story, the sessions lasted 14 to 18 hours a day, and each song was completed in one or two takes.

6. It wasn’t their first recorded music with Mike Inez.

Former bassist Mike Starr was fired from the group in 1993 after their run opened for Ozzy Osbourne. Before heading to Europe to tour in support of Dirt, they recruited Osbourne’s bassist, Mike Inez. Jar with flies however, is not the first release by the band where he plays bass – the two singles “What the Hell Have I” and “A Little Bitter” were recorded before the EP for the Arnold Schwarzenegger film The last action hero.

Alice in Chains – ‘A Little Bitter’

7. It was the first Alice in Chains release to top the charts.

Though Face lift had several hits and Dirt gained mass popularity, Jar with flies was the first Alice in Chains release to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Their third self-titled studio album followed suit a year later.

8. … And it was the first EP to ever hit No. 1.

Jar with flies was the first EP in history to top the Billboard 200, a feat that would not be achieved again until 2004 with Linkin Park and rapper Jay-Z’s collaboration, Collision course.

9. It was the first and only release they produced themselves.

Based on the credits for the entire Alice In Chains discography, Jar with flies is the only release the band produced entirely on their own.

10. “No Excuses” was their only song with Layne Staley to hit #1.

While many great songs came from Alice in Chains’ catalog during the Staley era, “No Excuses” was the only one to ever top the Mainstream Rock Songs chart.

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