Open Thread

I’m sitting here reading a book I really, really, do not want to read but have to, and while I am doing it I am cataloging some old cd’s I have not yet put into Itunes, and I just came across a band I used to hear a lot in undergrad but have not listened to in a decade. Whatever happened to the Screaming Trees?

I guess they would be considered protypical grunge, but they sure fit the zeitgeist of the early 90’s and when I turned Nearly Lost You on, I was transported from my desk with a book I don’t want to read to a beer bash in the sun in 1993. I guess like many of the other bands from that time period and that genre, the country changed and they sort of just faded away.

And if anyone cares, I think I liked their 1996 Dust better.

36 replies
  1. 1
    DougJ says:

    Whatever happened to the Screaming Trees?

    I saw them open for Sonic Youth in the 90s. I thought they were awful.

  2. 2
    Keith says:

    Screaming Trees broke up a while back. I read an interview with Barrett Martin (the drummer) recently where he made it sound like the problems were essentially due to the infighting between the Conner brothers (including a hilarious story about the three of them fighting to the point of a fridge landing on them). What’s funny is that "Nearly Lost You" isn’t even close to being the best track on "Sweet Oblivion"…terrific album.
    They were an awesome band and criminally underrated when people think about the Seattle scene, with Mark Lanegan having a voice bested (IMO) only by Vedder and maybe Cornell. (BTW: I highly recommend his album "Bubblegum")

  3. 3
    John Cole says:

    @DougJ: Maybe that is what happened to them- they sucked and it is only nostalgia that is carrying them for me…

    I take it you made it out of Fulton County Airport?

  4. 4
    JC says:

    I liked Sweet Oblivion back in the day. Did Lanegan do some solo stuff after they broke up?

  5. 5
    Brendan says:

    My band played with them at Maxwell’s in Hoboken back around that time. They were great, but the Conner brothers couldn’t seem to stand each other.

    I was also at what I think may have been their last show ever, at the Cubby Bear in Chicago. The Conner brothers ended up getting in a fistfight and the show ended after a few tunes.

    Fantastic band, though. And I think Mark Lanegan has one of the more distinctive voices in rock.

  6. 6
    DougJ says:

    I take it you made it out of Fulton County Airport?

    Yeah, my flight finally left at 12:30 — three hours late.

    The thing is, I don’t mind being stuck in the airport that much. So it’s not a big deal.

  7. 7
    Chas says:

    Lannegan has done vocals on several Queens of the Stone Age albums, as well as a few duets with PJ Harvey and others. I don’t know what the rest of the band has been up to lately.

  8. 8

    I was never a grunge fan and didn’t follow the music. It just didn’t have enough soul for me. But then what do I know? I’m still trying to get over the death of Duane Allman.

  9. 9
    schrodinger's cat says:

    I’m sitting here reading a book I really, really, do not want to read but have to,

    What book are you reading?

  10. 10
    cleek says:

    Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs) + Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees) = The Gutter Twins.

    all grunge fans should own the Whigs’ "Congregation".

  11. 11
    Keith says:

    Lanegan’s main gig since Screaming Trees was backup vocals for Queens of the Stone Age for a few albums, but yeah, he does solo work as well ("Bubblegum" was technically the Mark Lanegan Band, and had backup help from Polly Jean Harvey ("Hit the City"), Homme/Olivieri of QOTSA, et al.)

  12. 12

    lanegan’s solo stuff was excellent. talented guy.

    i’ll one up you with good but ultimately failed/disappeared grunge bands: afghan wigs.


    also, exceedingly tangentially, i find it disappointing that the 90s grunge channel on sirius just plays the same old shit instead of playing some of the stuff that didn’t get enough airplay in the 90s, whether it be known (Mudhoney, say) or less knows (Fastbacks and so on).

    blah. blah. blah.

  13. 13
    Ned R. says:

    I was always (and remain) a much bigger fan of Mark Lanegan‘s solo work than the Screaming Trees, a couple of songs aside — he’s had his notorious ups and downs but seems to have pulled it together this decade more, while his music in general has been stellar. Whiskey for the Holy Ghost, his second solo album from 1994, is what made me a believer back around the same time period John mentions.

    Worth checking out is his duo effort with Greg Dulli (ex-Afghan Whigs) from last year, the Gutter Twins. Also, the specific song that made a total fan for Lanegan is unfortunately somewhat obscure — a duet with the Walkabouts on their first covers album, Satisfied Mind. The song chosen is Charlie Rich‘s stellar "Feel Like Going Home" — search out his demo version in particular of that one — and the Walkabouts/Lanegan rendition is jawdroppingly great, full stop.

  14. 14

    @Keith: My thoughts exactly.

    And, as others have mentioned, singer Mark Lanegan’s done a lot of solo and collaborative stuff since the band’s breakup. His current project The Gutter Twins with former Afghan Whigs front man Greg Dulli.

  15. 15
    SGEW says:

    Oh man, how could I have completely forgotten about some of these bands? Yowza, this thread brings me back.

    [Goes into closet and finds old fuzz pedal; chains it to a good ol’ Boss overdrive and re-built feedbacker. Cranks that shit up. Annoys the fuck out of neighbors on a lazy Tuesday afternoon. Good times.]

  16. 16
    Burton says:

    He’s done two great albums with former Belle & Sebastian member Isobel Campbell, as well. Very much in the style of the old Lee Greenwood/Nancy Sinatra albums.

  17. 17
    Frank Sobotka says:

    Which book, John?

  18. 18
    Montysano (All Hail Marx & Lennon) says:

    Alice in Chains has been tagged as a grunge band, although I’m not sure about that. Whatever the case, I’ve recently developed a real love for their music.

  19. 19
    Comrade Kevin says:


    I read an interview with Barrett Martin (the drummer) recently where he made it sound like the problems were essentially due to the infighting between the Conner brothers (including a hilarious story about the three of them fighting to the point of a fridge landing on them).

    Sounds like their last name should be Davies instead.

  20. 20
    jprice vincenz says:

    Just bought a DVD called "We Jam Econo: The Story of the MInutemen," which I highly recommend. The MInutemen, Husker Du, Sonic Youth, and a few others really paved the way for the whole Seattle music scene.


  21. 21
    D-Chance. says:

    Looks like Gubner Perry and a bunch of goofs in Texas are pulling another PR stunt by re-declaring its "state sovereignty". I would call us a bunch of leeches; but, to be fair, we do pay (slightly) more than our fair share.

    Oh, well… remember the Alamo!

  22. 22
    patrick says:

    Mark Lanegan also contributed to the 2005 Sandra Boynton children’s book/audio CD "Dog Train", singing one song on it….we bought it for my daughter, and I like it as much as she does.

    the Screaming Trees are about the only 90’s Grunge/Seattle band I really care for….

  23. 23
    MH says:

    How in the world does a Screaming Trees fan become a full-on wingnut c.2000-2005? You are baffling to me, Mr. Cole.

  24. 24
    The Moar You Know says:

    There has been no failure in the world of music quite as spectacular as the failure of grunge.

    Who could have forseen that a bunch of shitty, no-talent musicians (with a very few exceptions) would have produced a bunch of music that no one would want to buy over the long term?

  25. 25
    Keith says:

    Ignoring the resident troll, 90s-era Seattle music (I refuse to use the term "grunge" because a) I can’t really define it, and b) I don’t really care much for Nirvana) is by far my favorite music to listen to. Got most of Screaming Trees, everything Pearl Jam’s put out except for their last set of bootlegs, all of Soundgarden (when I think of the "grunge" sound, I think of "Outshined", but Superunknown is in my top 3 albums of all time), half of AIC, some Sleater Kinney, and of course Temple of the Dog. I even love the Mad Season album.
    In fact, this whole thread got me to put together my Seattle stuff as a playlist that I’m listening to right now.

  26. 26
    JenJen says:

    John! "Dust" is one of my favorite albums ever. I had the privilege of seeing them perform the entire piece at an album release party in Portland, Oregon, many moons ago. They were a great band. Mark Lanegan’s baritone could not be beat. I’m gonna go listen to Dime Western now!

    Unfortunately, he used to get smacked out a lot with the now-dead Layne Staley. Both were the best singers of their generation, and it’s a shame that Layne is no longer with us, and Mark, from what I understand, is making music, but is still struggling to pull his shit together.

    IN other news: Jake DeSantis, biggest WATB in the entire world, the guy who penned that notorious "I QUIT" letter to AIG while cc’ing the NYTimes so all of us could make fun of him, apparently has not left AIG yet.

    I’ve quit jobs before. I’m usually outta there by the afternoon. What gives with this jackhat?

  27. 27
    Dave says:

    I understand that folks refer to Greg Dulli as "ex-Afghan Whigs", and I get that it’s correct, but I’d love to see him referred to as "Twilight Singers frontman", because jesus tits, the TS’s Blackberry Belle is one of the best albums of this decade. Seriously. I’d put it up against the Whigs’ Gentlemen, and it’d probably be a fight to a draw.

  28. 28
    Stephen1947 says:

    I am so jealous of your multi-tasking skills – I can’t even listen to music while I’m reading a book, much less catalog it. Of course you probably don’t have ADD…

  29. 29
    Michael D. says:

    Whatever happened to the Screaming Trees?

    Now that Democrats control things, they no longer feel the need to scream?

    And, DougJ, why did you fly into Fulton County airport? Do you have a private plane?

    Edit: Ooops. Read your ealier post. You were at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport – known as simply “Hartsfield” to us locals.

  30. 30
    Michael D. says:

    Since this is an open thread, does anyone know of a good spam filter for Microsoft Entourage for Mac? I’ve tried Spam Sieve and either:

    1. I don’t know how to configure it, or
    2. It sucks

    Any advice would be appreciated – except, “Don’t use Entourage” – I need some familiarity while getting used to this god forsaken Mac.

    Seriously though, I love it. But I just noticed for the first time last nightr that it doesn’t have a slot for an SD card. I was annoyed.

  31. 31
    bartkid says:

    >I’m sitting here reading a book I really, really, do not want to read but have to

    Dude, life’s too short.

  32. 32
    Ricky Bobby says:

    I spent a bunch of the 90’s living in Ellensburg WA, a little cowtown that the Screaming Trees are from. I rented videos from a little hole in the wall store that the Conner’s parents ran (weird, to say the least). When the band got interviewed for Rolling Stone they took the interview in a 24 hour trucker diner called Leaton’s just down the road that, sadly, doesn’t exist anymore.

    Suffice it to say that towns like E’Burg, which gave birth to the Trees and Aberdeen, which gave birth to Nirvana are the main reason that 90’s grunge was so damn grungy. Say what you want about them, but they were true to their roots.

  33. 33
    Sixpack Chopra says:

    I’m with John. Of their 3 major label albums "Dust" is also my favorite.

    Not grunge, but one of my other favorite 90s bands is Buffalo Tom.

    The loudest show I ever saw was Husker Du at the Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee. It was the tour just before "Candy Apple Grey" came out. They played the whole album. 8 Mile High was their encore…

  34. 34
    vinegar says:

    I prefer the Screaming Trees 80’s records on SST. Invisible Lantern, Buzz Factory and Even If and Especially When are all really good and have more of a 60’s psychedelic/garage sound than grunge. Uncle Anesthesia, their first album on Epic isn’t as good but has some good songs on it.

  35. 35
    jTh says:

    Ironically, I discovered them backwards, first through Lanegan’s incredible Bubblegum, and then working my way back to the Trees.

    I’m old enough, mind you, but just didn’t find the name appealing enough to check them out back then. Now I dig on them a fair amount, though none of it is up to Bubblegum’s deep intensity.

  36. 36
    Mr Furious says:

    "Dust" is probably the best album, but "Sweet Oblivion" is right behind it. The SST releases are all available as a double CD called "Anthology" if I’m not mistaken. Good, but not as good in my opinion…

    Lanegan’s "Whiskey" is a phenomenal album.

    As for the Connor brothers, just picture those two Guinness Book motorcycle twins rolling around on the floor drunk and fighting and you probably have a good idea of what was happening backstage.

    Oh, and speaking of Davies—Ray Davies 2006 solo album had a single ("All She Wrote") that I was convinced was Mark Lanegan when I heard it on the radio, and it still fools me every time it comes up on iTunes.

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