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Be Specific: Alice in Chains' new frontman on life after Layne

Alice in ChainsAlice in Chains is back with William DuVall, second from right, replacing the late Layne Staley. (Gareth Cattermole)

The only thing in rock and roll more awkward than being the New Guy In The Band is being the New Guy In The Band Who Is Replacing The Beloved Lead Singer Who Died.

William DuVall joined Alice in Chains about four years ago, after the overdose death of singer Layne Staley in 2002. He released his first disc with the band, “Black Gives Way to Blue,” last fall.

In advance of the band's Constitution Hall show on Wednesday, DuVall, a former D.C. resident, talked a bit about the strangeness (or not) of life in Alice in Chains.

It’s been four years. Do you still feel like the new guy?

No, not as much. But sure, a little bit.

When you first joined, was there a hazing that went on?

The last four years there’s been - I don’t know if I’d call it a hazing, but certainly a roller coaster and an education on a lot of levels. Not just the inter-band relationships and negotiating all that, but also just negotiating growing up in public, as this incarnation of the band has had to do in a lot of ways.

(Dealing with the expectations of fans, after the jump.)

So when do you stop feeling like you’re taking over for somebody else, and start feeling like [any other] guy in a band?

In a lot of respects I do feel that way already. I would guess that as time goes on, that feeling’s going to increase and the feeling of sort of new guy-ness will diminish. Every show that we play and future records that we do will cause that to happen.

What’s the feedback been like? Did fans expect Layne Staley karaoke?

I’m coming into this thing as myself and doing my own thing, so it’s different, but to most people it’s as cool in a different way. We’re just moving this thing into the future. There’s a great deal of honor and respect for the past. I have the utmost respect for what Layne Staley did, and to [the other band members] he’s always a brother….A lot of the songs on the new album, they have that Alice mystery to them. And even though I am definitely bringing my own thing to the table as a vocalist and an instrumentalist, I come into this band with an understanding of the sonic construct, and a respect for that, too. So it’s a fine line that we walk.

You have a degree in philosophy. Have you found yourself using it these past few years?
Yeah, I would say so!.... You’ve got to have a philosophical mindset and a sense of humor to do what we’ve had to do the last four years.

By Allison Stewart  |  February 26, 2010; 12:45 PM ET
Categories:  Be specific  | Tags: Alice in Chains  
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