Billboard Magazine August 15, 1998

Declaration of Independants column

Screaming Trees vocalist Mark Lanegan has never been the most prolific solo artist. Lanegan admits with a chuckle, "If I have the time and money, I'll spend forever fuckin' around with records. I hate finishing 'em."

However, his fans can celebrate: His third Sub Pop solo album, "Scraps At Midnight," has just hit the stores. It arrives a mere four years after the superb "Whiskey For The Holy Ghost" and eight years after his solo debut, "The Winding Sheet." Surprisingly, some other records may not be far behind.

To record the new album, Lanegan literally went into the desert. At the recommendation of ex-Kyuss guitarist Josh Homme and Masters Of Reality guitarist/vocalist Chris Goss--both of whom have long cut their music in the arid Palm Springs, Calif. area--Lanegan recorded "Scraps" at a remote studio in the California high-desert town of Joshua Tree. Lanegan, who splits his time between Seattle and Pasadena, Calif. these days says, "It was good for me to get away from distractions . . . [Homme and Goss] said it would be good for me, to get focus. The place is reflected in the music." "Scraps" which was co-produced by Lanegan an his longtime collaborator ex-Dinosaur Jr. bassist Mike Johnson, is a more full-blooded version of its somber predecessors.

The singer again delivers a brace of powerful, introspective songs (see "Hell (sic) Black Ocean," and "Last One In The World," and "Because Of This"), beautifully embellished by Johnson's guitar work. (Old Tad fans with enjoy the presence of Tad Doyle on drums on the track "Wheels.") Lanegan's parched, affecting vocals betray a number of musical precursors, but he offers a surprising name when asked about his key influences.

"Jeffrey Lee Pierce is God to me and the biggest influence on me," he says, referring to the late lead singer of the Gun Club, who died in 1996. "For me, I'm sure I never would have even made music [without his example] . . . when I first heard the Gun Club, it was one of the first things that spoke to me." Lanegan and Pierce collaborated on some songs before the bandleader's death, and Lanegan is recording some of them for his next album, which again will feature Johnson's participation. "I'm throwing in the kitchen sink on the new one," he says. While he says that the next solo album probably won't arrive soon, he is planning to release an EP of covers. "I was doing some British B-sides, and covers is what I do for B-sides," he explains. The set will include songs originated by such diverse talents as Eddie Floyd, Bobby Blue Bland, and Tim Hardin.