Screaming Trees Best Album Poll

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Poll Results

1992 Sweet Oblivion Epic 26
1987 Even If and Especially When SST Records 12
1989 Buzz Factory SST Records 10
1991 Uncle Anesthesia Epic 10
1996 Dust Epic 8
1988 Invisible Lantern SST Records 6
1986 Clairvoyance Velvetone Records 3

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 19:17 (thirteen years ago) link

Sweet Oblivion is my favourite but I love them all. If you only know the major label stuff then please check out the SST stuff. Buzz Factory and Even If And Especially When are terrific 80s psych rock records. and Invisible Lantern has some cracking tunes on it too.

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 19:20 (thirteen years ago) link

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 19:22 (thirteen years ago) link

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 19:22 (thirteen years ago) link

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 19:23 (thirteen years ago) link

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 19:23 (thirteen years ago) link

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 19:23 (thirteen years ago) link

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 19:24 (thirteen years ago) link

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 19:25 (thirteen years ago) link

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 19:26 (thirteen years ago) link

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 19:28 (thirteen years ago) link

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 19:30 (thirteen years ago) link

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 19:31 (thirteen years ago) link

a bootleg of a song just before they split up that was never released

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 19:33 (thirteen years ago) link

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 19:33 (thirteen years ago) link

and thats your lot. happy voting.

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 19:34 (thirteen years ago) link

Uncle Anesthesia

the old grey mare hoos ain't what he hoosed to be (state of the world today), Thursday, 23 April 2009 19:41 (thirteen years ago) link

Sweet Oblivion, but yeah, all of their albums are great, even the SST ones that Mark hates now.

greeheehee (stevie), Thursday, 23 April 2009 20:00 (thirteen years ago) link

Where did he say that?

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 20:18 (thirteen years ago) link

"Invisible Lantern" despite the terrible production job.

kwhitehead, Thursday, 23 April 2009 20:36 (thirteen years ago) link

Even If And Especially When, which is the only Screaming Trees album I ever loved. Wrote a loooooong --like 4000-wordish -- SST roundup for the Voice in 1987, and that was one of my three pick hits, along with Dinosaur's You're Living All Over Me and Blind Idiot God. Thought it was a step up from Clairvoyance, too. But I guess by the time I put my metal book together, I figured it didn't quite cut it. And after that, they had serious problems holding my attention. Still do.

xhuxk, Thursday, 23 April 2009 20:48 (thirteen years ago) link

I think I like their first and last albums the best -- kinda like The Doors! maybe Lanegan planned it that way.

I didn't like Dust as much when it originally came out, but it's really grown on me in the past few years.

'Buzz Factory' was the first one I got. and that one rules too. heck they all rule.

Plunge Protection Team, Thursday, 23 April 2009 20:56 (thirteen years ago) link

It's Even If... for me, followed closely by Uncle Anesthesia (it's got Chris Cornell on recorder, for crying out loud. A recorder!).

MacDara, Thursday, 23 April 2009 21:07 (thirteen years ago) link

Screaming Trees: Time For Light

by Everett True
Melody Maker, July 13, 1996

We're lucky Screaming Trees, peers of Nirvana, are still here, given mainman Mark Lanegan's excess-all-areas past. We're especially lucky because the Trees have just recorded one of the rock albums of the year...

Rockford, Illinois sucks. It's the third largest city in the state: it's also nothing but mile after pleasant mile of leafy, Mid-Western suburb. Newt Gingham must love it here. Nothing to disturb the ambience, nothing to jolt mid-American complacency bar a tastefully tucked away university campus and a downtown area so dismal it makes you start yearning for the delights of Sunderland. Ever wondered precisely where Beavis & Butt-head are based? Try Rockford. It's as white as white bread, only classier. Just. Checking in, we ask the smiling girl behind the desk of our Marriott/Super 8 motel where we can get a drink.

She looks at us puzzled, taken aback, before replying. "Well, there's a couple of strip bars on State you might want to check."

Clearly, we're not from round these parts. Everyone in the hotel reception area on this lazy, pleasant valley Sunday afternoon, knows everyone else; our English accents cause mild consternation.

If this is the sort of place Lollapalooza is playing nowadays, no wonder it's ditched the alternative approach of last year's event (Sonic Youth, Beck, Pavement) and gone for a much more mainstream, metal line-up (Metallica, Soundgarden, Ramones) this time round. Otherwise, the nickname "Big Money Loser" would be for real, for sure.

Seriously daunted, we're on the phone to Mark Lanegan, singer with Screaming Trees - the band who, with "Dust", are responsible for 1996's first classic rock album - within minutes of arrival.

He's stuck in a Freeport Holiday Inn, 35 miles down the road, where there's even less to do: among the restaurants the hotel proudly boasts as being local are MacDonald's and a Pizza Hut.

"Don't you f***in' dare," he warns, upon hearing of our plans to visit him. "We're already on our way over. Whatever it takes."

Jesus Christ. I knew middle America was dull, but... this?

So Steve Gullick and I wait in our rooms (no hotel bar, but there's a handy free grocery delivery service) for seven hours, waiting for Lanegan to show. Waiting. And waiting. Rickard Linklater's "Slacker" is on TV, appropriately enough. We scorch the microwave popcorn, we bust a toilet, we argue over who's our scariest co-cohabitant. And still we wait.

Lanegan never appears. F***.

'TRAVELLER' It's the next day.

Steve and I have been at the festival site in Winnebago County Fairgrounds for four hours now, driven here this early by sheer boredom. We've checked out the massive gorilla by the entrance, the "rain tents", the rip-off food places which charge $3 for a bottle of coke, the third "indie" stage which is literally the back of a lorry. We've bumped into the Trees' guitarist, the affable (and large) Gary Lee Conner, watching awesome Australian garage band You Am I on the second stage, shaded from the sun by an umbrella. I've been complimented on my dancing by a Rancid roadie, who informs me his band has a video of me onstage with Girl Against Boys from the previous date of the tour in Des Moines (a town just as dull as Rockford). F***! I don't even remember seeing 'em! Must have been that bottle of Jagermeister that Trees drummer Barrett Martin thoughtfully passed my way.

But still, there's no sign of Lanegan.

Seconds before the Trees are due to go on (2:20 pm, main stage - it would've been half an hour later, but the Shaolin Monks got impounded at Customs by American officials suspicious of anything vaguely Chinese), he appears, drenched to the skin and clearly in pain.

He doesn't even notice us, he's suffering so heavily.

After Screaming Trees play a shortened set mostly noticeable for the interchange of missiles between band and audience (dried mud from the crowd; clothes from Lanegan), I corner the singer and ask what the f*** happened to him the previous night.

"I got caught in a lightning storm," he growls. "We ran out of money for the taxi halfway to your hotel, met a couple of strippers, got soaked, had to sleep out in the pouring rain, and finally got home this morning wearing the same clothes as you saw just now. At one point, as I was walking through the worst part of town, this carload of brothers come by with a big-ass water machine gun and squirted me right across the face. They totally nailed me! I started laughing so f***ing hard I had to hold my stomach for two blocks."

So why the impromptu strip act onstage?

"My clothes were so f***ing heavy," Lanegan explains, sprawled out on the ground outside his band's trailer, "that I just threw them into the crowd. I took my boots off, they were still wet, and my pants were still wet - I threw everything, my wallet, my belt. I couldn't wear them any more. It was like 'Knocking On Heaven's Door' - 'Momma, take these pants off of me/ I can't wear them for one more week'... I'd been wearing them for three weeks, but the rain didn't wash the stench away. I was so hot, I couldn't f***ing breathe."

Welcome to middle America, spiritual home of Screaming Trees.

'ALL I KNOW' Screaming Trees have been around for a while.

It's been over a decade, in fact, since Mark Lanegan first formed the band in Ellensburg, Washington - a small rural community not so far from Seattle. It's been over 10 years since Lanegan, inspired by the first Gun Club album, decided his life was going nowhere (not only had he seen the inside of a few jails by the time of the Trees' debut LP, he'd also had a promising basketball career cut short after he broke both his legs falling off a tractor, drunk one night) and hooked up with the equally disaffected Conner brothers. Since then... well, it ain't been easy. After the initial run of fine, psychedelic-flavoured, heavy-rock records on SST (and, later, Epic), the flow dried up completely after the band's seventh album, the bleak and blistering "Sweet Oblivion", released in 1992. (That is, if you discount Lanegan's astonishing solo albums, the second of which, "Whiskey For The Holy Ghost", came out in early '94 on Sub Pop. Here was an album which proved Lanegan's worth as a modern-day bluesman; far richer and more rewarding to listen to than even his closest peer, Nick Cave. Cave, y'see, is just a storyteller. Lanegan - like the bluesmen of old - has f***in' *lived* the tale. Tales of his brawling and drinking and whoring are legendary.) The Trees were supposed to be recording an album - in fact, *did* record an album - in the spring of 1994. But the death of Mark's friend Kurt Cobain round that time, coupled with the fact that none of the Trees could even stand to be in the same room together, meant the album never really took off. It got scrapped in its entirety, barring one song, the darkly affecting "Dying Days". (Kurt, in fact, left a song behind for Lanegan: but he's chosen not to record it with the Trees, preferring to leave it for his next solo album. "I didn't feel it was appropriate to record it so soon after his death," he told Rolling Stone last month.) The band then spent the next two years writing and rewriting enough songs for about 30 albums. Their new album, "Dust", is like the best of the last three years of Screaming Trees. It's a f***ing awesome record; almost certainly the first classic rock album of the year. And, make no mistake, this is classic ROCK. "Drink, desolation and self-destruction, presented intact and shining," as David Bennun put it in his album review last week. "It sounds like distilled thunder. It's a silken, baritone rumble, a cruise-controlled cyclone. Frankly, it's a marvel." Precisely.

From the swirling guitars of opener "Halo Of Ashes" through the powerful statement of love on "Look At You" (a song which almost makes me believe in romance again) to "Dying Days" itself and the bruised "All I Know", this is rock in all its splendour. Try not to think of grunge: the Trees have always looked first to Sixties acid rock and the chiming harmonies of The Beatles and The Byrds for inspiration. And definitely don't think for one moment this is unapproachable. Serious, yes. Proud - f***, yeah. Turgid, no.

At last Screaming Trees have made an album wherein the raging fury of the Conner brothers' guitars match the brooding, emotional intensity of Lanegan's deep voice.

And yet the last time I saw Lanegan - round the time of Kurt's death - it seemed unlikely he'd ever record another song again. No f***ing way. I'd never seen a man so despairing of life itself.

'HALO OF ASHES' "I wanted to quit music last time I saw you," Mark confirms. "We talked about it a lot. I thought it was too negative. I sat around for damn near four years, but, you know..."

The singer takes a deep breath, shading his eyes from the relentless afternoon sun, before continuing.

"One day, I realised I had all this guilt, and these real deep feelings of sadness over everything that happened, my part in it, what I did and didn't do, and I thought, 'Man, you're still alive. You've been dead with your dead friends for too long. You have to move on.' And I realised that I'd been dead as all those people I'd been missing those four years, there years, two and a half years, whatever. You can only stay dead for so long. I'll admit I never wanted to make another record after all that. I never thought I would, but, as corny as it sounds, this record is a real healing process for not only me, but the band as well."

The singer clears his throat, and continues.

"I could try and kill myself a million f***ing ways, and have - unintentionally, of course - but it just doesn't seem to happen. So, you know... I'll stay on the f***ing road and make music and hopefully leave something behind that is a worthy tribute to all those who should still be here and making music that was so much f***ing better than anything I ever did. That's all."


"I've got friends who are still living that f***ing zombie life, that alive/dead thing," the singer says. "People who should be making music. And it makes me sad they don't. Cos shit, you know, I probably wouldn't have made it past 10 years old if I hadn't had music. Or 12. Or 15. Or 18. Or 20. Just in the past few months, I've remembered the one thing that made me f***ing want to start a band was hearing the first Gun Club record. I remember thinking, 'Shit, I could play drums like that.' So I did. It was the middle of f***ing winter, I was living in a storage shed with my drums, a couch and that was it. My friends would come over, plug in their guitars, and we'd play all the slow songs off the first Gun Club record. And now Jeffrey [Lee Pierce, singer] is gone... at 36."

Mark clears his throat again. He was meant to be recording some songs with Jeffrey for his next solo record.

"I'm like a carpenter when it comes to making songs," he muses. "It's not easy, it's something I've got to force myself to do. I knew guys who just picked up the f***ing guitar - like Jeffrey or Kurt - and, bang!, it was right there, the second they started playing. It's not that way with me. And I wish that those guys were still around. I really do."


"It's like this," he explains. "I can do one of two things. I can sit in my apartment and do drugs until the day I die, or I can f***ing get out and be a social person, whatever. I'm a f***ing man, I do what I do, and I'll take responsibility for it, whether it's good or bad. And if anything good comes along, that's beautiful."

'DIME WESTERN' Lollapalooza is a pretty f***ing dumb-ass scene. Kurt would have f***ing hated it, that's for sure. A load of sunburnt middle American jocks and their girlfriends in Stars And Stripes bikinis, throwing dried mud at anything which isn't... well, Metallica, basically. It's a good thing the "alternative" stages are so small; no one goes f***ing near them, anyway. The food stalls charge extortionate prices, alcohol is barred (even from the parking lots!), there's no sign of the array of "carnival" tents from even two years back.

All pretence is gone. There is no "alternative" here. Lollapalooza '96 is basically Metallica plus supporting cast, no more, no less. (Kick-ass fireworks, though.) The local equivalent of Beavis & Butt-head must be delighted. How does Mark feel about the situation?

"Well, it beats the f*** out of opening for Dumbf*** Jonas And His Mighty Quartet," he laughs. "I'd rather come and see The Ramones every day, see the second stage, get to hang with the other bands. I couldn't care less about the diversity of the thing, what people have to say about the headliner. I'm just happy to f***ing do it. I don't give a shit. I'll f***ing open for anybody, I've got no problem with it, cos I know I'll blow their shit off the stage."

Do you feel any empathy with the people of Rockford?

"Physically, this town is a lot like where I grew up, but f*** 'em. I never had a thing like this, I didn't even have a f***in' record store. I had to take a Greyhound bus 120 miles just to buy punk records. Where I grew up there wasn't even a f***ing place to buy an electric guitar. And if you played songs of your own, you were ridiculed and made fun of.

"You think we had something like this?" Lanegan asks rhetorically. "Fuck, no. Now, there is. We're playing 50 miles away from my home town on this tour. Those kids are lucky. They're fucking lucky. They're lucky to have my fucking boots and they're lucky to have my pants. They're lucky to see The Ramones, they're lucky to see You Am I, they're lucky to see Metallica, for that matter.

"But yeah. I wish there'd been something like this. But then, maybe we wouldn't have started our own band. Maybe I'd have been too busy waiting around for Lollapalooza to fucking come around."

It seems Lollapalooza and MTV over the past few years have taken away the need for local identity. Audiences all over America are the same now. They've been taught how to behave.

"Shit, yeah," the singer agrees. "You just nailed it on the fucking head. The world's getting so small that it's no fun for me. I can't even get laid in most towns, just because of my bad reputation, all because the world's too fucking small. That's a lie. I'll get you the best fucking whore Rockford has to offer. I'll pay. Just to see the look on your face."

What are we waiting for? Let's go!

"Calm down, man," Mark laughs. "We've got plenty of time."

'GOSPEL PLOW' Right now, Lanegan is lying on the ground, shivering from cold, even in this f***in' heat. His tour manager's hovering anxiously. Across the way, Trees bassist Van Conner and new guitarist Josh are chatting to Joey Ramone.

"Hey, man, don't rock the floor!" - that's what Joey had said to me as I sprawled in the dirt, nearly insensible, in Des Moines, two days earlier. I didn't understand him then, and I don't now. Local heroes Cheap Trick are about to go on. A Hell's Angel on a uck-off motorbike roars by. Mark indicates he wants to speak to him. Time to wrap this one up.

I ask Lanegan whether he's bitter at the way Screaming Trees seem to have been passed over during the goldrush that was northwest America these past five years.

"I see it this way," the singer replies. "In this business, there are spinners and there are marathon runners. I'm going to be around while these fucking *pissants* have spent their last fucking royalty check and are living back home with fucking grandma. I'll be still out on the road, playing tiny fucking clubs to 50 people, when I'm f***ing 65 years old. And that's fine.

I've long stopped wishing for the pie in the sky, American dream, beautiful wife, beautiful house on the water, fucking nice car. I've never thought that way. I grew up in a time when we thought we'd never live to see 18, because there was going to be a nuclear war and everyone would die. When I first quit drugs and drinking when I was 21 and the girl I was really in love with had left me because of it, it was like the first time I really sobered up and looked at myself - 'Man, you're still here and you're 21! You didn't even think you'd make it to 18! What is there to do?'

"Music. I fell into it. I knew these guys, they asked me to play f***ing drums with them, and I was such a bad drummer that they made me sing, and I'm still with them, 13, 14 years later. And, all of a sudden, half my life is gone. I'm 31 years old! What happened? It's bound to hurt. But when I start thinking that way, I put on a record, write a song. Music is still the only thing that fucking saves me. Because, as shitty and f***ed-up as it sounds, it has been worse.

"It has been so much worse."

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 21:16 (thirteen years ago) link

More articles covering their entire career @

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 21:21 (thirteen years ago) link

Ha! The new Screaming Trees guitarist Josh mentioned at the end that '96 ET MM piece would be Josh Homme, at the time between Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age...

jaybabcock, Thursday, 23 April 2009 22:20 (thirteen years ago) link

Where did he say that?

probably bad form to quote one's own features, but here:

When the Conner brothers tired of playing covers at local dance parties, they hooked up with Lanegan, who soon swapped his initial drumstool for the microphone stand, and formed the Screaming Trees. Moving swiftly, with the aid of friends like producer Steve Fisk and Beat Happening’s Calvin Johnson, the band released a slew of EPs and LPs throughout the 1980s on labels like Velvetone, Homestead, Sub Pop and, most prolifically, SST. Mark chalks their impressive work rate to poverty; “We’d come off the road and record an album for the $1000 advance SST were offering us, because we needed the money to go back on the road.”

Mark certainly doesn’t view their early days with excessive romance. “Those SST records were a mishmash,” he grumbles. “I was singing parts that the guitar player had written, in a higher register than mine; I was always walking offstage with a splitting headache. He was really into a psychedelia thing, which I wasn’t into. He hadn’t even eaten acid, which I’d been selling for a number of years.”

greeheehee (stevie), Thursday, 23 April 2009 22:20 (thirteen years ago) link

indeed. I have a bootleg with josh playing.

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 22:21 (thirteen years ago) link

infact one of the above vids has josh in it

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 22:21 (thirteen years ago) link

“I was singing parts that the guitar player had written, in a higher register than mine; I was always walking offstage with a splitting headache.

Lanegan's vocals were certainly different to what we know now. Now we know why!

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 22:24 (thirteen years ago) link

(Kurt, in fact, left a song behind for Lanegan: but he's chosen not to record it with the Trees, preferring to leave it for his next solo album. "I didn't feel it was appropriate to record it so soon after his death," he told Rolling Stone last month.)

and that song was 'you know you're right', and i kinda wish mark had recorded it, as i reckon it would sound great in his voice.

greeheehee (stevie), Thursday, 23 April 2009 22:29 (thirteen years ago) link

[and i loved reading ET's piece again. god, that man can write.]

greeheehee (stevie), Thursday, 23 April 2009 22:29 (thirteen years ago) link

It would. Whatever happened to the song he wrote for iggy?

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 22:30 (thirteen years ago) link

Stud Brothers interview

White Trash Disposal
Melody Maker, June 27, 1992

Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam... Does the world really need another Seattle-based guitar band? The Stud Brothers say yeah and furthermore Screaming Trees could well be the best of the wild bunch.

"Hey Van"! says a beaming, angel-faced kid. "Hope ya don't mind, I'm packin'."

Van Conner, Screaming Trees huge, baby-faced bassist, sighs. He does mind. There follows a brief discussion which ends with Van apologising for being such a pain-in-the-ass liberal and the kid nodding sympathetically and handing over a loaded gun.

Van doesn't like people to be armed at his parties. He says it makes for a tense atmosphere. We'd go along with that.

Five minutes later, the kid's back having decided he'd rather pack than party. Van duly returns the weapon and the kid wanders off into the night.

In these five minutes Barrett Martin, Van's housemate and the Trees' drummer, gets wind of the incident. He swaggers over to Van, a bottle of Jack Daniels clenched in his fist. In pointed cowboy boots, tight, tattered jeans, a battered leather jacket and with his hair swept up and back, he looks like Peter Fonda in "Easy Rider".

"Hey Conner!" says Barrett. "Word's out yer yeller! What've ya gotta say 'bout that?"

"Aw, f*** off Barrett," says Mark Lanegan, the band's vocalist who's propped up against the fridge nursing a bottle of vodka. "Least Conner's name's the right way round."

Barrett wheels to confront Lanegan. Van smiles sheepishly.

Screaming Trees are one of the greatest rock'n'roll bands we've ever heard. A great American rock'n'roll band. As American as apple pie, Levi's jeans, the National Rifle Association and pick-up trucks. The group - Mark, Barrett (formerly of Skinyard), Van, and his brother, the guitarist Gary Lee Conner - hail from Ellensburg, a small cattle town in Washington State populated, they say, almost entirely by "white trash".

Screaming Trees know white trash, love and hate white trash, laugh at it and fear it. But it's their white trash genes that make them, as a band, so compelling.

Screaming Trees met in high school. Lanegan, the local football star, used to get together with Van to trade info on punk records. As they grew to like one another they found themselves doing little else. Realising they were both about to flunk out, they decided to form a band on the grounds that it was better than working in the slaughterhouse or scrubbing septic tanks, according to Lanegan, the only work available in Ellensburg.

"I guess most bands get together to make the kind of music they wanna hear," he says. "We got together because the other options were just too bad to think about."

The pair enlisted Van's older brother, Gary Lee and, in 1986, released their first LP, "Clairvoyance" on Velvetone, Ellensburg's only label. They then moved to Seattle and signed to SST for whom they recorded three albums - "Even If And Especially When", "Invisible Lantern" and "Buzz Factory". In 1990 they moved to Sub Pop, already label to their friends Nirvana and Mudhoney (Dan Peters, Mudhoney's drummer once played for the Trees) and put out "Change Has Come". In the same year they signed to Epic.

Screaming Trees are soon to release the astonishing "Sweet Oblivion", a shockingly vivid picture of life and death in rural America. Lyrically it draws upon, among other things, Van's experience in the Charismatic Church (he was a born-again youth leader), Lanegan's alcoholism (at one point things got so bad his liver went on vacation and Lanegan was left with a body covered in livid hives that wept gin, his favourite tipple), secret small-town loves and, of course, Ellensburg's overt white trash bigotry. Musically it alludes to Presley, The Doors, Black Sabbath, The Byrds and Neil Young's Crazy Horse.

The guitars are sometimes a rockabilly twang, elsewhere a firestorm, Lanegan's extraordinary voice moving from maudlin Cohen guru to ecstatic preacher man and far beyond. "Sweet Oblivion" evokes flickering images of gun-racks, log-jams, bar fights, fields of wheat and incest, and in it and over it all the perpetual presence of the Baptist Christ, the all-American God.

Sadly, the release of "Sweet Oblivion" is to be delayed in order that Epic can give its predecessor, "Uncle Anesthesia", its first British release. This nine-month-old album is none too exciting. Very basically, from its title onwards it comes over as an amateurish rehearsal for "Sweet Oblivion" where sketchy ideas are poorly disguised by overly lavish production.

It does have its moments, the title track for one and its opener, "Beyond This Horizon", both a passionate latterday blues slashed by Gary Lee's flailing fretwork. "Uncle Anesthesia" lack the thought, drive, commitment and desperation that makes "Sweet Oblivion" the classic it is.

"Frankly, we'd got really lazy," says Mark Lanegan. "We weren't even getting together to write songs. In fact, we'd decided we weren't gonna be making records together any longer."

"We felt that 'Sweet Oblivion' was gonna be our last hurrah," says Van. "So we paid more attention to detail, got our shit together."

They go on to explain that "Uncle Anesthesia" was a slapdash affair, further confused by the involvement of six producers - Mark, Gary, Van, ex-drummer Mark Pickerel, Terry Date and Soundgarden's Chris Cornell. It's perhaps worth mentioning that, as slapdash affairs go, it's a pretty good album, better than most in fact. It just pales into insignificance when compared to its follow-up.

Van says bluntly, "It's like going outside naked."

It's the in-your-face honesty and raw bloody emotion that make "Sweet Oblivion" such a great, great album. It's so honest and emotional that the band can't even listen to it. It'll be a f***ing crime if you don't.

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 22:33 (thirteen years ago) link

Dust, for sure.

Great quotes in the Everett True piece, but it's always a laugh to read Brits trying to write about Middle America, they get it so wrong, every time.

thirdalternative, Thursday, 23 April 2009 22:34 (thirteen years ago) link

1990 Article by Everett True

Raiders Of The Lost Bark
Melody Maker, April 7, 1990

Everett True talks to the former SST psychedelic monster truck band and discovers how their Led Zep-style howling was created by a group of people who refuse to accept reality as a way of life.

Screaming Trees creates acid big noise; four guys from rodeo-town, Ellensburg, Washington, who trash their guitars because they have f*** all else to do.

They're a weird bunch: two lard-ass brothers on guitar, one pencil-neck drummer who works as a salesman for Sub Pop Worldwide Domination Enterprises, and a nervous long-haired singer, who spends most of his time in a basement. Collectively they venerate Roky Erickson, Tim Buckley and Beat Happening, and create monster truck music - grungadelic bite-your-ass blues from the fine old US of A.

Mark Lanegan (singer): "I had one more day left on this job where I drove this combine, when I got run over. I was going to leave for Las Vegas the next day on my motorbike and ended up having to stay in town because my legs got crushed. That's how I ended up being in the band with these guys."

Mark Pickerel (drummer): "There's not a lot to do in Ellensburg, that's for sure. You've got a lot of students because of the university and some cattle ranchers, farmers, shit like that. Most of our friends' parents had similar jobs. It's really a pretty depressing place."

Screaming Trees all attended the same high school, have been together since '85 and have released around five albums ("Buzz Factory" is their latest and greatest). Their guitarist, Gary Lee Conner, writes around 10 songs a month, and his brother, Van, is the manager of a drive-in-movie theatre. Steve Fisk, the numero one West Coast producer, works closely with them, and has produced them since their first demo, which later turned up as the SST EP, "Other Worlds".

Pickerel: "It was hard for us at the beginning because there was nowhere for us to play, and we had made a record before the situation changed. Then we sent a tape to Calvin Johnson (Beat Happening), and he set up a couple of shows for us out-of-town.

"Then Jonathan Poneman (Sub Pop) did a radio show with us in Seattle and set up a few shows for us there, and that's when everything really started to happen. We owe a lot to both those guys."

That debt was partly repaid when Screaming Trees recorded a joint 12-inch with Beat Happening (simply called "Beat Happening/Screaming Trees") on Homestead in '88.

This week (as opposed to last week, when they were signed to SST, and next week, when they may well be signed to Epic US) they have a (one-off) record out on Seattle's omnipresent Sub Pop record label. It's a snarling, gnarly double seven-incher, which more than ever recalls those Sixties (melody), Seventies (power driven) and Eighties (hey, pop!) influences cloistered together, traumatised by their proximity. It's called "Time Speaks Her Golden Tongue" [note: it's actually called "Change Has Come"] and it's the finest piece of melodic North Western grunge to be released since... the last one.

Today, in an Seattle pasta joint, I speak to the two Marks.

So what interests you crazy kids?

Mark L: "Don't ask me, I never come out of my room. All I do is play guitar, read and listen to music. I dream about never having to go out, just be able to f***ing keep doing tunes and having the time to not f***ing work."

Mark Lanegan's singing style echoes this sense of isolation, ringing across the claustrophobic psychedelia of the Trees with a melancholy loneliness that is sometimes difficult to bear. He has a solo album coming out on Sub Pop, untitled as yet, which draws on this theme of angst-ridden psychosis even further, drawing close to the endless dreamscapes of Spacemen 3 or Mumbles.

Lanegan: "When I'm singing onstage I feel pretty detached, caught within myself. I don't notice anyone around, I just stand there with my eyes closed."

Pickerel: "I get the feeling of escaping into something different when I play live. Our music acts as an escape from the everyday world for me."

What would you say is the quality which separates Screaming Trees from the other bands who play a similar style of music?

Lanegan: I think we might be a little more melodic at times, a little more focused. We have more of a vision of what we want. Other bands' records fluctuate a lot; most bands have a member who really doesn't have much to do with the rest of the band and that can really come across."

I'd have said that in Screaming Trees' bittersweet snarl you can hear the years of frustration at being brought up in Hicktown, USA, the years of anger at being put down because you're a little different, a little bit weird, the years of optimism, single-mindedly pursuing an ideal that you never totally understand.

Do you have any heroes?

Pickerel: "There are a couple of people: Greg Sage (Wipers) because of his total sense of melancholy and hope, all at the same time; Jeffrey Lee Pierce (Gun Club) because there's so much emotion in his voice, yet the things he's singing about are just so normal; Ron Ashton (guitarist with The Stooges), cos if he hadn't been around there wouldn't be millions of bands right now playing riffs and shit he wrote."

Lanegan: "Our lyrics are fairly surreal; they mean something to me and the guitar player and I guess that's about it. They are songs about obsession, depression, alienation."

Have you ever done anything you were sorry about?

Lanegan: "F*** yeah, millions of things. I was somewhat of a small-time criminal in out home town when I was a kid and got into a lot of trouble, to the point when I met these guys in fact. I haven't been in jail for a few years, that's been nice. But I don't think about it too much."

What kind of trouble?

Lanegan: "Just pretty juvenile stuff - public drunkenness, stealing things, smoking pot."

Pickerel: "I've never done anything I'm sorry about, just little things I wish I could have done differently, that's all. It's like Lemmy said, maaan, 'No remorse, no regrets'."

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 22:34 (thirteen years ago) link

We should also do a Lanegan solo album poll (with or without the colloborative ones?) I like his solo records, stuff with QOTSA, albums with Isobell Campbell and Soulsavers better than any of the Trees records.

thirdalternative, Thursday, 23 April 2009 22:42 (thirteen years ago) link

I was going to do a solo poll after this

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 22:45 (thirteen years ago) link

just the solo albums though, not the collaborations.

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 April 2009 23:03 (thirteen years ago) link

qotsa albums would walk them

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Friday, 24 April 2009 11:19 (thirteen years ago) link

I'm a huge fan of the Change is Come ep on SubPop. It was released in between the SST and the Epic years . It's often overlooked and - as far as I can tell - out-of-print, so see if you can find it somewhere.

My Neighbor Toronto (kingkongvsgodzilla), Friday, 24 April 2009 12:35 (thirteen years ago) link

i have the cd :)

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Friday, 24 April 2009 12:37 (thirteen years ago) link

i couldve bought the 2x7"s a good 10 years back in missing records for £7.99 but didn't :(

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Friday, 24 April 2009 14:17 (thirteen years ago) link


pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Sunday, 26 April 2009 20:36 (thirteen years ago) link

what's everyone's fave track on the Change Has Come ep?
Mine is Time Speaks Her Golden Tongue

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Monday, 27 April 2009 11:24 (thirteen years ago) link


pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Tuesday, 28 April 2009 23:19 (thirteen years ago) link

I will.
It's been a while since I last heard any of these. Bought Uncle Anasthesia cheap two years ago. Used to play Sweet Oblivion all the time in the years after it came out (a time at which my album collection numbered at about a whopping 20 in total). My brother bought the SST Anthology back in the day, had a few pretty great songs iirc. Might pull out Dust tonight..

willem, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 07:16 (thirteen years ago) link

I voted for Dust, mostly because I listened to it the other day for the first time in years and it's astonishing. Just so consistent as well - there's pretty much nothing between the first seven or eight songs.

Enormous Epic (Matt DC), Wednesday, 29 April 2009 07:35 (thirteen years ago) link

Sweet Oblivion is just as consistently brilliant too.

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Wednesday, 29 April 2009 11:30 (thirteen years ago) link

what's everyone's fave track on the Change Has Come ep?
Mine is Time Speaks Her Golden Tongue

― pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Monday, April 27, 2009 7:24 AM (2 days ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink


Arlen Spectre General (kingkongvsgodzilla), Wednesday, 29 April 2009 11:33 (thirteen years ago) link

"new" album is fuckin awesome.

low content wine racing (stevie), Wednesday, 31 August 2011 20:39 (eleven years ago) link

sweey obliv remains my favourite, love the sst stuff, but have always been cold on uncle anaesthesia

low content wine racing (stevie), Wednesday, 31 August 2011 20:39 (eleven years ago) link

Surprised that "Dust" polled so low.

I am super gay for Lanegan.

thirdalternative, Wednesday, 31 August 2011 21:10 (eleven years ago) link

one year passes...

Commute this morning was fueled by Invisible Lantern. what a great album, song after song of good material...even the terrible production job sounded good. Still love these dudes.

WARS OF ARMAGEDDON (Karaoke Version) (Sparkle Motion), Wednesday, 21 November 2012 18:55 (ten years ago) link

their SST stuff is so so rad.

"Hahahaha, nice one, Punchy," I said. (stevie), Thursday, 22 November 2012 09:09 (ten years ago) link

three years pass...

Man. I fucking missed out on this band like crazy the first time around; recently bought Invisible Lantern (on SST) and it's so fucking good. Like you can hear that Pacific Northwest pre-grunge thing but they have such a cool sound, integrating 60s psych/garage influences so well.

Arch Godliness of Purplefull Magic (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Saturday, 7 May 2016 21:26 (six years ago) link

yeah, amazing record. no fluke neither. even if and especially when & buzz factory are right up there with it. never liked the epic albums anywhere near so much as those 3.

great (& kinda silly) track from the beat happening split:

Francis Ford Cupola (contenderizer), Saturday, 7 May 2016 22:46 (six years ago) link

lol i posted the exact same track 4 years ago. listen with new ears!

Francis Ford Cupola (contenderizer), Saturday, 7 May 2016 22:47 (six years ago) link

Awesome, kind of a 13th Floor Elevators pastiche (until the chorus).

Arch Godliness of Purplefull Magic (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Saturday, 7 May 2016 22:58 (six years ago) link

troo. and i recant of what i said 4 years back: they suffered in my mind for being better than das damen, but 2nd to the likes of the meat puppets and dino jr.

bosh. they don't suffer at all in that comparison.

Francis Ford Cupola (contenderizer), Sunday, 8 May 2016 00:13 (six years ago) link

That entire Beat Happening/Screaming Trees EP is pretty great, though Polly is my favorite track from it. What a weird idea for a record.

dlp9001, Sunday, 8 May 2016 01:41 (six years ago) link

I don't think they're anywhere near as idiosyncratic and as interesting as the Meat Puppets (80s)...Black Flag, maybe

90s Meat Pups maybe better...but not the 80s stuff

Master of Treacle, Sunday, 8 May 2016 01:41 (six years ago) link

... Maybe a better comparison I mean xp

Master of Treacle, Sunday, 8 May 2016 01:41 (six years ago) link

Change Has Come EP (1989) is an important record too, and how do you all rate Last Words, recorded around '98? I'm surprised the other lost album never surfaced. I'd be much more excited for a reunion of this band than say, Soundgarden.

Fastnbulbous, Sunday, 8 May 2016 02:15 (six years ago) link

Find it v weird that they couldn't get a deal after Dust tbh

Master of Treacle, Sunday, 8 May 2016 02:26 (six years ago) link

Soundgarden are apparently recording a new album atm, news to me too

albvivertine, Sunday, 8 May 2016 05:39 (six years ago) link

It seems really weird that Lanegan working with Queens of the Stone Age never seemed to bring people around to this band, cause a reunion, etc.

Arch Godliness of Purplefull Magic (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Sunday, 8 May 2016 07:13 (six years ago) link

I think the no-reunion thing is down to them all finding it really hard to be in a band together without wanting to beat the crap out of each other. They did finally release the post-Dust recordings, though, and they were pretty ace.

There's a great radio session of early Trees out there where they cover The Doors' The End, The Stooges' No Fun and Cream's Tales Of Great Ulysses.

Elvis Santana (stevie), Sunday, 8 May 2016 10:59 (six years ago) link

three weeks pass...

I've been trying to find that radio session and only found some dead links from 2007... anyone know where I can get it?

You say tomato, Isao Tomita (RIP) (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Wednesday, 1 June 2016 07:19 (six years ago) link

Whoa! That sounds cool. I hope someone turns it up.

how's life, Wednesday, 1 June 2016 09:16 (six years ago) link

Found it on soulseek. What a blast. ilx mail me if interested

willem, Wednesday, 1 June 2016 21:04 (six years ago) link

Hey, willem, thanks for that radio stuff, it's great!

I just realized that Screaming Trees' first major label album came out like 7 months before Nevermind. Which kind of makes me wonder, yet more, why the hell Epic would've signed them.

On this timescale, all matter is liquid. (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Sunday, 12 June 2016 00:10 (six years ago) link

Like I get that the majors were trying to suck up everything grungey and Seattitalian in the post-Nevermind rush, it's just weird that they'd hear this ragged, psychedelic rock band that clearly weren't going to engage with 99.97% of Americans and think, yeah, those guys are for us.

On this timescale, all matter is liquid. (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Sunday, 12 June 2016 00:12 (six years ago) link

There was already some buzz on the Seattle scene--A&M had already signed up Soundgarden and Mother Love Bone. The Trees had a pretty good indie track record that might have looked attractive. In the HYPE! movie some of the interviewees mention that by '90 the majors had been sniffing around, picked up a couple bands and that seemed the end of it.

Now I Know How Joan of Arcadia Felt (C. Grisso/McCain), Sunday, 12 June 2016 00:23 (six years ago) link

Oh shit I forgot about Soundgarden. But that all makes sense!

On this timescale, all matter is liquid. (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Sunday, 12 June 2016 01:01 (six years ago) link

Buzz Factory was the first album I heard by the Screaming Trees and it is the one I still like the most. There is all sorts of awesome wah wah on that record, especially on Black Sun Morning.

earlnash, Sunday, 12 June 2016 19:37 (six years ago) link

Its the best of the SST albums for sure

Cosmic Slop, Sunday, 12 June 2016 19:45 (six years ago) link

These revives always makes me want to listen to a bunch of '87 SST albums

gate crimes legislation (Drugs A. Money), Monday, 13 June 2016 13:15 (six years ago) link

Well, 1986, but yeah, SST had some great stuff in the late 80s.

dlp9001, Monday, 13 June 2016 13:52 (six years ago) link

A&M had already signed up Soundgarden and Mother Love Bone.

― Now I Know How Joan of Arcadia Felt (C. Grisso/McCain), Saturday, June 11, 2016 5:23 PM (2 days ago)


Plus Uncle Anasthesia was engineered by Terry Date (Louther Than Love & Apple) & Chris Cornell.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Monday, 13 June 2016 16:09 (six years ago) link


Good forgotten band that was formed by ex-members of this era (85-90) Screaming Trees/Soundgarden:

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Monday, 13 June 2016 16:13 (six years ago) link

one month passes...

^^^ this has been going through my head and it's really, really good. Thx Mr. Broccoli.

Have you hugged your timeghoul today? (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Friday, 22 July 2016 07:15 (six years ago) link

two years pass...

'Invisible Lantern' and 'Even If and Especially When' have gotten some plays in the last few months. I really love the raunchy sound of these early Screaming Trees LPs. The production and guitar sounds gives it a sheen not unlike some psych/garage of the 60s.

Their later records were still psychedelic influenced but the sound was more contemporary.

earlnash, Friday, 14 September 2018 13:16 (four years ago) link

Yeah, I was surprised when i was first listening to that Invisible Lantern SSt compi how much they sounded like a 60s band.
I think I saw them in '88 or '89 at the LSE. Probably 89.
& do really love taht early 70s stoner vibe of the 90s lps, great stuff.

Stevolende, Friday, 14 September 2018 14:43 (four years ago) link

have you heard Gary Lee Conner's solo stuff? It's still deeply rooted in the early Screaming Trees psych sound.

Scam jam, thank you ma’am (Sparkle Motion), Friday, 14 September 2018 16:56 (four years ago) link

Even If is probs my favourite of the 80s LPs. Cold Rain!!

canary christ (stevie), Friday, 14 September 2018 18:30 (four years ago) link

psych/garage of the 60s.

I love the way they definitely have that influence but they're not like slavish imitators. Found a copy of Invisible Lantern in a thrift store and by the end of the first listen I was in love.

Paul Reverse and the rediaRs (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Monday, 17 September 2018 20:35 (four years ago) link

there's a great bootleg of a radio show from the 80s out there where they cover Cream songs and The Doors' The End.

canary christ (stevie), Monday, 17 September 2018 21:36 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

I bought Gary Conner's new album directly from him via bandcamp and he packed it like shit. It came looking like a potato chip. Come on man!

the public eating of beans (Sparkle Motion), Wednesday, 23 October 2019 03:24 (three years ago) link

two years pass...

I realized I had never heard Last Words, was shocked to see the CD versions of it are going for over $71 on Discogs. It this still price-gouging after Lanegan's death? Or was this always pretty limited?

a superficial sheeb of intelligence (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 30 March 2022 21:25 (ten months ago) link

Price-gouging, but also it was on Barrett Martin's own label, so was a pretty limited release. It's good though.

politics is about vibes and the vibes are off (stevie), Wednesday, 30 March 2022 21:40 (ten months ago) link

This was cut for an aborted album between Sweet Oblivion and Dust but didn't get a release until a Trees comp on Sony that Mark and the band were involved in (following a cash-in Sony comp they weren't involved it that sucked). I think it's pretty great.

politics is about vibes and the vibes are off (stevie), Wednesday, 30 March 2022 21:42 (ten months ago) link

Sucks how much of their stuff is OOP right now.

a superficial sheeb of intelligence (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 30 March 2022 21:55 (ten months ago) link

nine months pass...

Damn, RIP.

peace, man, Wednesday, 18 January 2023 19:04 (two weeks ago) link


Mule, Wednesday, 18 January 2023 19:52 (two weeks ago) link


werewolves of laudanum (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 18 January 2023 21:08 (two weeks ago) link

A brutal year for the Trees. Rip.

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Wednesday, 18 January 2023 21:09 (two weeks ago) link

This fucked me up a fair bit. I didn’t know he’d apparently been horribly ill for over a year.

Love the Trees. They could swing.

Mule, Wednesday, 18 January 2023 23:07 (two weeks ago) link

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