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Where many of their Seattle-based contemporaries dealt in reconstructed Black Sabbath and Stooges riffs, Screaming Trees fused '60s psychedelia and garage rock with '70s hard rock and '80s punk. Over the course of their career, their more abrasive punk roots eventually gave way to a hard-edged, rootsy psychedelia that drew from rock and folk equally. After releasing several albums on indie labels like SST and Sub Pop, Screaming Trees moved to Epic Records in 1989. Though they were one of the first Seattle bands to sign with a major label, the group never attained the popularity of fellow Northwestern bands (and friends) like Nirvana and Soundgarden, largely due to their erratic work schedule. Throughout their career, the Trees 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 the only people in their high school who listened to punk, garage rock, and independent music, so they eventually gravitated toward each other. After falling out with the Conners before either completed school, Lanegan contacted Van Conner several years later. By that point, Van had a band with a singer named Mark Pickerel; the pair had recently kicked Lee Conner out of the band, so they invited Lanegan to sit in on drums. Eventually, Lee re-joined the group and they settled on a lineup that featured 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 months after their formation. Their producer, Steve Fisk, was able to convince the head of Velvetone Studios to release an album by the band, The result, Clairvoyance, appeared on Velvetone Records in 1986. With Clairvoyance in hand, Fisk was able to secure Screaming Trees a contract with Greg Ginn's SST Records, who had already been releasing albums by Fisk. The band's first SST album, Even If and Especially When, was released in 1987 and the Trees began working the dying American indie circuit, playing shows across the country. The following year, SST reissued the band's demo tape under the title Other Worlds 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 EP for Sub Pop early the following year. By that time, tensions in the band had grown somewhat, and the group spent most of 1990 working on side projects. Mark Lanegan recorded a solo album, The Winding Sheet, which featured support from Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic; the album appeared on Sub Pop. Both of the Conners formed new bands and released albums on the SST subsidiary New Alliance. Van's band was called Solomon Grundy; Lee's was Purple Outside. By the end 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 Date as producers. Uncle Anesthesia appeared in early 1991 and, although it sold better than their previous efforts, the band remained a cult act. For much of the year, in fact, Van Conner was on hiatus from the band, choosing to tour as bassist with Dinosaur Jr. instead. Late in 1991, Nirvana's Nevermind became an unexpected commercial success, opening the gates for the rest of the Seattle scene. Where many of their peers were able to capitalize on that success, Screaming Trees suffered more setbacks than the rest. Before they began work on their follow-up to Uncle Anesthesia, Pickerel left the group and was replaced by Barrett Martin.
Once Martin joined, the band finished "Nearly Lost You," their contribution to the Singles soundtrack, and their 1992 album Sweet Oblivion. "Nearly Lost You" became a MTV and alternative radio hit in the fall of 1992, thanks to the momentum of the Singles soundtrack. The single carried Sweet Oblivion -- which had received more press attention than any previous Screaming Trees album -- to the group's strongest sales, peaking at over 300,000 copies. The band supported Sweet Oblivion with a year-long tour, during which they fought frequently. After the tour was finished, the group decided to take an extended hiatus. During that time, Lanegan recorded his second solo album, Whiskey for the Holy Ghost, which was released in 1994. That same year, Martin drummed in the Layne Staley (Alice in Chains) and Mike McCready (Pearl Jam) side project Mad 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 attempt at the album, the band hired George Drakoulias, who had previously worked with the Black Crowes and the Jayhawks, as producer. The resulting album, Dust, was released in the summer of 1996, nearly four years after its predecessor. Dust was greeted with positive reviews, and its first single, "All I Know," became a moderate hit on modern rock radio. Still, the album didn't sell particularly well, even though the band supported the record by touring with 1996's Lollapalooza. Following the Dust tour, Screaming Trees took another hiatus, with Lanegan beginning work on his third solo album, Scraps at Midnight, which was released in 1998. When Lanegan completed another solo project the following year (I'll Take Care of You), it seemed to confirm 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 official breakup. 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.
Screaming Trees was an American rock band formed in Ellensburg, Washington in 1985 by vocalist Mark Lanegan, guitarist Gary Lee Conner, bass player Van Conner and drummer Mark Pickerel. Pickerel had been replaced by Barrett Martin by the time the band reached its most successful period. Although widely associated with grunge, the band's sound incorporated hard rock and psychedelic elements. Since its formation, Screaming Trees released seven studio albums, five EPs and three compilations.
Screaming Trees is known as one of the "Godfathers of Grunge" along with the Melvins, U-Men, Skin Yard, Soundgarden, Green River, Cosmic Psychos and Malfunkshun. Screaming Trees rose to fame as part of the grunge movement of the early 1990s, along with bands such as Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Soundgarden and was one of the most successful underground music acts of the 1990s. The band achieved one top ten single on the Modern Rock Tracks charts. Screaming Trees were plagued by extended inactivity due to their problems with making a follow up to Dust. This led to their official breakup in 2000.
1985–1989: Formation and early releases 
The Conner brothers formed Screaming Trees with Mark Lanegan and Mark Pickerel in 1985 in Ellensburg, Washington, a small town a little over 100 miles from Seattle. The band was drawn together by an interest in punk, garage, and classic rock in high school.
The band rehearsed at the Conner family's video rental store and recorded their demo tape Other Worlds in the summer of 1985 with Steve Fisk at Creative Fire recording studio in Ellensburg. The band talked the owner of the studio into releasing it as a cassette on the local indie label, Velvetone Records (the recording was re-released as a CD and vinyl EP by SST Records in 1988). In 1986, they released their debut album, Clairvoyance, also on the Velvetone label. Musically, the album is a combination of psychedelic rock and hard rock. With Fisk's help, the LP caught the attention of Greg Ginn, and the band were signed to SST Records.
In 1987, the band released their second LP, and their first for SST, Even If and Especially When. After the release of the album in 1987, the band began working the American indie circuit, playing shows across the US with other SST bands such as Firehose and Meat Puppets. Their next album, Invisible Lantern, was released in 1988. Buzz Factory, released in 1989, was the fourth full length album by Screaming Trees and their last for SST Records.
1990–2000: Major label debut 
In 1990 the band had signed a major-label contract with Epic Records. In 1991, the band released their fifth album, and first for a major label, Uncle Anesthesia. The album was produced by Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell and included the single "Bed of Roses", which gained considerable airtime on alternative rock radio stations and peaked at # 23 on the modern rock tracks. The single was the first Screaming Trees release to chart. Although Uncle Anesthesia sold better than their previous efforts, the band remained a cult act.
After the release of Uncle Anesthesia Van Conner went on hiatus from the band, choosing to tour as bass player for Dinosaur Jr. instead, with Donna Dresch filling in for him during Screaming Trees performances. Late in 1991, Nirvana's Nevermind became an unexpected commercial success, opening the gates for the rest of the Seattle scene. Where many of their peers were able to capitalize on that success, Screaming Trees had more difficulty gaining mainstream notice.
Barrett Martin replaced previous drummer Pickerel and the new line up recorded Sweet Oblivion in 1992. When Martin joined the band they had already finished the song "Nearly Lost You", which soon became a successful single. Sweet Oblivion was the band's breakout album and included the hit singles "Nearly Lost You", "Dollar Bill", and "Shadow of the Season". The two first singles gained considerable airtime on alternative rock radio stations, while the video for "Nearly Lost You" became an MTV and alternative radio hit in the fall of 1992, thanks to its inclusion in the soundtrack for the film Singles. "Nearly Lost You" peaked at No. 5 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart and No. 50 in the UK Singles Chart, making it the band's first single to chart outside the United States. Sweet Oblivion sold a total of 300,000 copies in the United States.
The band supported Sweet Oblivion with a year-long tour, during which tension developed among the members. After the tour was finished, the group took an extended hiatus. During that time, Lanegan recorded his second solo album, Whiskey for the Holy Ghost, which was released in 1994. The following year, Lanegan was featured as a guest vocalist in the Layne Staley and Mike McCready side project Mad Season. Lanegan co-wrote and sang on two songs. Mad Season would only release one album because of Staley's deteriorating health and eventual death in 2002.
In early 1995, Screaming Trees toured Australia for the only time as part of the Big Day Out festival, before beginning work on their follow-up to Sweet Oblivion. Following one stillborn attempt at the album, the band hired producer George Drakoulias, who had previously worked with the Black Crowes and the Jayhawks. The resulting album, Dust, was released in 1996, nearly four years after its predecessor. Dust spawned the singles "All I Know", and "Dying Days". The album peaked at No. 134 on the Billboard 200, No. 32 in the UK Albums Chart, and No. 39 on the Canadian album chart, making it the first Screaming Trees album to chart outside the United States. Despite favorable reviews, the album did not match the sales of Sweet Oblivion. After the release of the album, Josh Homme, formerly from Kyuss, was hired briefly as rhythm guitarist.
Following the Dust tour in the United States, Screaming Trees took another hiatus for Lanegan to begin his work on his third solo album, Scraps At Midnight, which was released in 1998. The band headed back into the studio in 1999 and recorded several demos including the song "Ash Grey Sunday" and shopped them around to labels, but no label was interested. The band played a few surprise shows in early 2000 to try to gain a label's attention but they were unsuccessful. They did however release the song "One Way Conversation" on the Musicblitz Records internet label. In 2000 after a concert to celebrate the opening of Seattle's Experience Music Project, the band announced their official breakup.
Post-Screaming Trees 
Lanegan released a solo album in May 2001 entitled Field Songs. Also in that year, he became a member of the hard rock group Queens of the Stone Age with Josh Homme. Lanegan recorded two albums as one of the group's three vocalists before leaving the group in late 2005. His sixth solo album Bubblegum was released in 2004 and became his best-selling album and his first solo album to chart. He has since gone on to work with Greg Dulli in the Gutter Twins and the Twilight Singers. Lanegan also received critical acclaim for his albums with Isobel Campbell, one of which, Ballad of the Broken Seas, was nominated for the 2006 Mercury Music Prize.
Gary Lee Conner started the bands The Purple Outside and Microdot Gnome in which he is the vocalist. Lee Conner has also done session work with other musicians. In 1999 he released the EP Grasshopper's Daydream/Behind The Smile, which featured Josh Homme.
Van Conner initially turned his efforts to his side-projects Gardener with Aaron Stauffer (formerly of Seaweed (band), and later VALIS. He also contributed to the Mark Lanegan album Field Songs in 2001. Van has produced and contributed to several other projects over the years, including Kitty Kitty, VALIS, Gardener, and Gary Lee's SubPop single Grasshopper's Daydream. Van's band VALIS has released several recordings, including:VALIS/Kitty Kitty Split CD/EP – Man’s Ruin Records (1998)Vast Active Living Intelligence System – Lunasound/Abstract (2002)Head Full of Pills – Small Stone (2004)Champions of Magic – Small Stone (2005)Sucking the 70′s 2 – Various Artists – Small Stone (2006)Dark Matter – Now on iTunes – CD Out April 14- Small Stone (2009)Split Single with Kandi Coded – Volcom Entertainment (2009)Northwest Mind Meld – Various Artists – Small Stone – iTunes only (2009)
Barrett Martin has been a touring member for many noteworthy bands after the breakup of Screaming Trees. He has worked with Stone Temple Pilots and R.E.M., and has released two solo albums with limited success. He later contributed to Lanegan's solo album I'll Take Care of You and the album Rated R by Queens of the Stone Age. He is currently the drummer in Tuatara and drummer/vocalist in The Minus 5. He also studies different music cultures, mostly from Africa. In 2000, Martin was ordained as a Zen priest in the Sōtō tradition, through the Detroit Street Zen Center in Los Angeles. As of 2005, he was pursuing a doctorate in anthropology and music at the University of New Mexico.
Barrett contributed playing drums on two albums by Nando Reis a Brazilian musician: Para Quando O Arco Irís Encontrar O Pote de Ouro (2000) together with Peter Buck from R.E.M. and A Letra A (2003).
On June 22, 2011, it was announced that an unreleased album that the band recorded in 1998 and 1999 would finally see the light of day. Mixed by Jack Endino and the Trees' own Barrett Martin, Last Words: The Final Recordings was released on August 2, 2011 digitally with CD and vinyl versions to come in the following months.