See also: Mark Lanegan
Based out of Seattle
and coming to popularity during the grunge
era didn't seem to have much effect on the sound of this uncompromising group. In contrast to their heavy metal
-influenced contemporaries, Screaming Trees blended psychedelic rock
and folk music
to form a wonderfully rich sound which flows easily from screaming guitar solo
s to soothing vocal melodies. Lanegan's rich, bassy voice in combination with grooving, never over-busy guitar licks and solid backing from bass and drums makes for incredible driving music, and made the band an important entity in the early-90's music scene.
Screaming Trees was founded in late 1984 by brothers Van and Gary Lee Conner, Mark Lanegan, and Mark Pickerel. The brothers Conner and friend Pickerel had played in a series of rock bands during high school. A few years after graduation, Van Conner, then leading a band called The Explosive Generation with Pickerel on vocals and Lee on drums, got a call from Mark Lanegan, who wanted to join up. Immediately following this call, Van and Lee got in a fight, and Van kicked Lee out of the band, so Lanegan became the band's drummer. Soon after, however, the brothers reconciled, and everyone realized that Lanegan was a much stronger vocalist than Pickerel, so the final lineup consisted of:
Van Conner: bass
Lee Conner: guitars
Mark Pickerel: drums
Mark Lanegan: vocals
The band, now renamed Screaming Trees (name taken from a distortion pedal
), began writing and in 1985, released an eponymous
demo, which was followed in 1986 by an EP titled Clairvoyance
. It was produced by the now-ledgendary Steve Frisk, who quickly convinced Greg Ginn
(yes, the guitarist from Black Flag
) to sign the band to his SST label. The band's first full length album, titled Even If and Especially When
was released in late 1986, and the band went on tour to support the album early in the next year.
In 1988, the band released their original demo tape under the title Other Worlds.
In the following year they recorded and released two more albums under the SST label, Invisible Lantern
, and Buzz Factory.
The band then moved over to Sub Pop records
and quickly released the album Changes Come.
Conflict within the band resulted in a hiatus
in which Lanegan released the breathtaking album The Winding Sheet,
which featured Pickerel, as well as Cobain
as well as Mike Johnson
of Dinosaur Jr.
recording ledgend Jack Endino
. The Conner brothers both formed new bands, Soloman Grundy
(Van), and Purple Outside
The band then re-formed and signed a deal with Epic Records
. In early 1991 the band released Uncle Anasthesia
, which was produced by Terry Date
frontman Chris Cornell
. The band toured, but Van Conner took another break from the band to tour with Dinosaur Jr.. Then Pickerel left the band to join Truly
(and now plays in Valis
with former Mudhoney
man Dan Peters
), and was replaced by monster drummer Barrett Martin
(formerly of Skin Yard
). Van returned to the act, and the band recorded Sweet Oblivion,
which featured the song "Nearly Lost You
," which became a hit after its inclusion on the Singles
Then they took another break.
Lanegan recorded another solo album, Whiskey for the Holy Ghost,
and Martin joined up with the Mike McCready
project Mad Season
In early 1995, the band reunited again
and recorded the mindblowing album Dust
, which reached relative fame with the success of the song "All I Know
." The band toured with Lollapalooza
in 1996, but then broke up again.
Screaming Trees were officially dissolved in 2000.