Alice in Chains: How The Band Made Their First EP ‘Sap’
Today on Rock N’ Roll True Stories they take a look at the EP ‘Sap.’ Check it out below!
The world was first introduced to Alice in Chains in 1990 with the release of their debut record Facelift. Contrary to popular belief, Alice in Chainswas the first band from Seattle to have a gold record thanks in large part to the success of their single Man in the Box. To be fair the band had a year head start on Pearl jam and Nirvana who didn’t release their major label debut’s until late 1991.
Alice stood apart from the rest of their peers by being the most metal sounding group from Seattle, so people were surprised in early 1992 when they quietly released their first EP titled SAP. The EP showed a softer side of the band that carried through some of their subsequent releases. Today, we’re going to talk about the making of SAP. Stay tuned for the full story. Facelift was a slow burn for Alice in Chains. Released in August of 1990, it would take almost a year before the band took off. It wasn’t until the single Man in the box got heavy play on MTV in the spring of 1991 that the band really became a household name.
By the end of 1991 Alice in Chains booked a week at London Bridge Studios in Seattle where they would work with pearl Jam producer Rick Parashar. Fans could thank the director Cameron Crowe for SAP being recorded. Crowe was working on the film Singles at the time and asked the band to record a song for the movie soundtrack and provided them with money to book time at the studio. The band would record the song “Would” for Singles it would end up on their follow up LP Dirt, which was released in late 1992. a In fact the version of Would you hear on dirt was from this very session. What people may not know is that during these same sessions the band also recorded Rooster, but it was shelved for the time being. Apart from recording Would and Rooster, Alice in Chains also used the studio time to record a bunch of acoustic material, which would be released on SAP. Jerry Cantrell would tell Lars Ulrich on his podcast:
The title of the EP Sap came from a dream drummer Sean Kinney had. When it came time to record the EP Parashar ran a tight ship not allowing any partying, drug use or drinking in the studio. According to Assistant Engineer Dave Hillis who worked on the release he would tell author David De Sola in the book Alice in Chains the untold story that any drug use in the studio by layne happened when he would sneak to the bathroom. In the same book Johnathan Plum who also worked as an assistant engineer recalled the two different type of people Layne and Jerry were. He would remember Layne as a very down to earth friendly guy who chatted with the studio staff about their life, while Jerry was very laser focused on work and didn’t wasn’t the type of person to stop and casually chat. SAP also represented an important evolution for the band as it was the first time Jerry took a bigger role in signing, thanks in large part to Layne Staley’s encouragement. Jerry sings co-lead vocals on the tracks Brother and Got Me Wrong. It was this singing style that the band would become well known for.
The album was also notable because of the high profile guest appearances as well. Ann and Nancy Wilson sang background vocals on the song Brother and Am I Inside, while Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Mark Arm of Mudhoney would provide additional vocals on the track Right Turn. If you look at the credit for that song it is credited to Alice Mudgarden. The band didn’t want to do any promotion for the album as Cantrell would tell Ulrich in the same interview. : The song Got Me Wrong would be featured in the 1994 film Clerks further bolstering the album’s profile. In 1994 Alice in Chains released their follow up EP Jar of Flies which featured a limited edition vinyl version that also came with SAP. The release of SAP would give Jerry Cantrell and the rest of the band the confidence to literally do whatever they wanted in the studio from that point on as he would tell Lars Ulrich in this interview.