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Screaming Trees

Where many of their Seattle-based contemporaries dealt in reconstructed Black Sabbath and Stooges riffs, Screaming Treesfused '60s psychedelia and garage rock with '70s hard rock and '80s punk. Over the course of their career, their moreabrasive punk roots eventually gave way to a hard-edged, rootsy psychedelia that drew from rock and folk equally. Afterreleasing several albums on indie labels like SST and Sub Pop, Screaming Trees moved to Epic Records in 1989. Though theywere one of the first Seattle bands to sign with a major label, the group never attained the popularity of fellow Nort ...read more

Where many of their Seattle-based contemporaries dealt in reconstructed Black Sabbath and Stooges riffs, Screaming Treesfused '60s psychedelia and garage rock with '70s hard rock and '80s punk. Over the course of their career, their moreabrasive punk roots eventually gave way to a hard-edged, rootsy psychedelia that drew from rock and folk equally. Afterreleasing several albums on indie labels like SST and Sub Pop, Screaming Trees moved to Epic Records in 1989. Though theywere one of the first Seattle bands to sign with a major label, the group never attained the popularity of fellow Northwesternbands (and friends) like Nirvana and Soundgarden, largely due to their erratic work schedule. Throughout their career, theTrees were notorious for drinking and fighting, which caused them to break up briefly at several points in their career.Nevertheless, the band managed to cultivate a dedicated following, which included not only fans, but also fellow musicians.Brothers Van Conner (bass) and Gary Lee Conner (guitar) formed Screaming Trees with Mark Lanegan (vocals) in the mid-'80s. Lanegan and the Conners grew up in Ellensburg, WA, a small college-town some 90 miles from Seattle. The trio were theonly people in their high school who listened to punk, garage rock, and independent music, so they eventually gravitatedtoward each other. After falling out with the Conners before either completed school, Lanegan contacted Van Conner severalyears later. By that point, Van had a band with a singer named Mark Pickerel; the pair had recently kicked Lee Conner out ofthe band, so they invited Lanegan to sit in on drums. Eventually, Lee re-joined the group and they settled on a lineup thatfeatured Lee on guitar, Van on bass, Lanegan on vocals, and Pickerel on drums.

Taking their name from a guitar distortion pedal, Screaming Trees recorded their first demo tape in 1985, just a few monthsafter their formation. Their producer, Steve Fisk, was able to convince the head of Velvetone Studios to release an album bythe band, The result, Clairvoyance, appeared on Velvetone Records in 1986. With Clairvoyance in hand, Fisk was able tosecure Screaming Trees a contract with Greg Ginn's SST Records, who had already been releasing albums by Fisk. The band'sfirst SST album, Even If and Especially When, was released in 1987 and the Trees began working the dying American indiecircuit, playing shows across the country. The following year, SST reissued the band's demo tape under the title OtherWorlds as well as their third album, Invisible Lantern.

Following the release of Buzz Factory in 1989, the group's contract with SST expired and they made the Change Has Come EPfor Sub Pop early the following year. By that time, tensions in the band had grown somewhat, and the group spent most of1990 working on side projects. Mark Lanegan recorded a solo album, The Winding Sheet, which featured support fromNirvana's Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic; the album appeared on Sub Pop. Both of the Conners formed new bands andreleased albums on the SST subsidiary New Alliance. Van's band was called Solomon Grundy; Lee's was Purple Outside. By theend of 1990, the band had signed a major-label contract with Epic Records.

Screaming Trees reconvened to record their Epic debut, Uncle Anesthesia, with Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Terry Dateas producers. Uncle Anesthesia appeared in early 1991 and, although it sold better than their previous efforts, the bandremained a cult act. For much of the year, in fact, Van Conner was on hiatus from the band, choosing to tour as bassist withDinosaur Jr. instead. Late in 1991, Nirvana's Nevermind became an unexpected commercial success, opening the gates for therest of the Seattle scene. Where many of their peers were able to capitalize on that success, Screaming Trees suffered moresetbacks than the rest. Before they began work on their follow-up to Uncle Anesthesia, Pickerel left the group and wasreplaced by Barrett Martin.

Once Martin joined, the band finished "Nearly Lost You," their contribution to the Singles soundtrack, and their 1992 albumSweet Oblivion. "Nearly Lost You" became a MTV and alternative radio hit in the fall of 1992, thanks to the momentum of theSingles soundtrack. The single carried Sweet Oblivion -- which had received more press attention than any previousScreaming Trees album -- to the group's strongest sales, peaking at over 300,000 copies. The band supported Sweet Oblivionwith a year-long tour, during which they fought frequently. After the tour was finished, the group decided to take anextended hiatus. During that time, Lanegan recorded his second solo album, Whiskey for the Holy Ghost, which was releasedin 1994. That same year, Martin drummed in the Layne Staley (Alice in Chains) and Mike McCready (Pearl Jam) side projectMad Season, which released its only album in the spring of 1995.

In early 1995, Screaming Trees regrouped to begin work on their follow-up to Sweet Oblivion. Following one still-born attemptat the album, the band hired George Drakoulias, who had previously worked with the Black Crowes and the Jayhawks, asproducer. The resulting album, Dust, was released in the summer of 1996, nearly four years after its predecessor. Dust wasgreeted with positive reviews, and its first single, "All I Know," became a moderate hit on modern rock radio. Still, the albumdidn't sell particularly well, even though the band supported the record by touring with 1996's Lollapalooza. Following the Dusttour, Screaming Trees took another hiatus, with Lanegan beginning work on his third solo album, Scraps at Midnight, whichwas released in 1998. When Lanegan completed another solo project the following year (I'll Take Care of You), it seemed toconfirm that the Trees' strained relationships would make it impossible for the band to continue. Following a June 25, 2000,concert to celebrate the opening Seattle's Experience Music Project, the group unsurprisingly announced their officialbreakup. 2005's Ocean of Confusion: Songs of Screaming Trees 1989-1996 gathered highlights from the band's Epic years,and included two previously unreleased tracks. « hide

Similar Bands: Mark Lanegan, Queens Of The Stone Age, Valis, Truly, Love Battery

LPs
Last Words: The Final Recordings
2011

3.5
12 Votes
Dust
1996

4
154 Votes
Sweet Oblivion
1992

4
195 Votes
Uncle Anesthesia
1991

3.6
60 Votes
Buzz Factory
1989

3.5
29 Votes
Invisible Lantern
1988

3.2
13 Votes
Even If and Especially When
1987

3.6
10 Votes
Clairvoyance
1986

3
19 Votes
EPs
Change Has Come
1990

3.7
3 Votes
Something About Today
1990

3
1 Votes
Other Worlds
1985

Compilations
Ocean of Confusion
2005

3.8
17 Votes
Anthology: SST Years 1985-1989
1990

3.9
10 Votes

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