Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Mark Pickerel is an artist unafraid to follow an unusual career path -- after spending six years as a drummer in one of the more important rock bands to emerge from the Pacific Northwest, he went on to an respected career as a singer and songwriter after a spell as an in-demand sideman and the owner of a record store. Born in Ellensburg, WA, Pickerel began playing drums and singing in his early teens. As a freshman in high school, Pickerel made friends a fellow member of the school band, Van Conner, who shared his interest in punk rock and the more esoteric avenues of '60s psychedelia. With Conner's brother Gary Lee Conner, they formed a band called the Explosive Generation, but it wasn't until 1985, several years after Pickerel and the Conners had graduated, that things caught fire for the group. After an ill-fated attempt by Pickerel to take over as lead singer, prospective drummer Mark Lanegan moved to the vocal mic and Pickerel returned to the drums. The band was renamed Screaming Trees, and they released their first album a year later. During his tenure with Screaming Trees, Pickerel played on the group's first five albums, but parted ways with them in 1991, after recording their major-label debut, Uncle Anesthesia, but shortly before the inclusion of "Nearly Lost You" on the soundtrack to the movie Singles considerably raised the group's profile. After leaving the Trees, Pickerel joined Truly, a short-lived power trio featuring former Soundgarden bassist Hiro Yamamoto, who recorded albums for Sub Pop and Capitol; he also entered the exciting world of retail music by opening Rodeo Records, a music shop in Ellensburg, in 1991. After parting ways with Truly, Pickerel focused his musical energies on recording a pair of solo albums under the name the Dark Fantastic (on which he played guitar and sang as well as handling percussion chores) and working sessions with the likes of Neko Case, Steve Fisk, Jim Carroll, Pigeonhed, and former bandmate Mark Lanegan. Pickerel finally stepped out as a frontman under his own name in 2006 with the release of Snake in the Radio, a collection of dark but compelling songs credited to Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands. A second set, Cody's Dream, appeared in 2008.