The Everett Herald Key, December 5th, 1998


Hole, Lanegan top lineup at annual bash

by John L. Messina

For it's seventh annual "Deck the Hall Ball," local rock radio KNDD (107.7 FM, better known as The End) assembled perhaps the most intriguing line up yet.

Hole takes a break from Courtney Love's acting career to headline the show. Garbage, one of the more thoughtful of modern bands, will also be on hand, as will Cherry Poppin' Daddies, the Eugene, Ore., swing band with punk rock energy and truly disturbing lyrics.

Other acts include Soul Coughing -- a modern band that actually knows the meaning of the word "subtlety" -- Cake and Portland native Elliott Smith.

The most compelling performance, however, is likely to come from Mark Lanegan. The Screaming Trees vocalist will give a solo performance on the acoustic stage, assisted by Mike Johnson of Dinosaur Jr. and former Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepard.

While the point was often lost amid Kurt Cobain's shrieking and Eddie Vedder's off-key moaning, the explosion of Northwest music in the early part of this decade featured some incredible vocalists. Soundgarden's Chris Cornell was the powerful wailer, Alice in Chain's Layne Staley the haunting technical perfectionist.

Lanegan was the only true stylist to emerge from the scene. His low, smoky, slightly ragged voice interpreted as much as sang.

Curious then, that when discussing his July solo release, "Scraps at Midnight," Lanegan seems a bit lackadaisical. He readily admits that he headed into the studio without a definite plan, with raw ideas for songs, and recruited "whoever is around" to play on the record.

"I just like doing as little as possible," he says.

This seems downright lazy at first, until it becomes apparent that Lanegan views his solo career as a vacation from the hard-working Screaming Trees.

"I try to be adaptable," he says of his solo endeavors. "The songs themselves are really rough and I never know what's going to happen before it starts. It's looser. It's the anti-Tree way to make records. The Trees make records like their life depends on it."

"Scraps at Midnight" is Lanegan's third solo album. He views the three discs as a set, with "insanity" as the unifying element.

"To me ("Scraps at Midnight") is like the conclusion of this set of records, which started with the first song on the first record and ends with the last song on this one," he says.

Lanegan began work this week on his next solo record which will be an album of cover songs.

"It's easier than writing songs," he jokes. "It's actually a bridge that will put something between the first three and what comes next."

Lanegan has already begun the process of what comes next. Even as he begins work on his covers album, he is writing songs for his next album of originals.

As if that weren't enough to keep him occupied, the Screaming Trees are in the process of finding a new record label. Lanegan reports that the band is talking to people from both major labels and smaller, independent labels.

"There's good things about both ways of doing it," Lanegan says. "With us, when we worked with majors, it was always with a small group of people anyway. We surround ourselves with a close-knit gang, so for us, it wasn't like floating in that atmosphere."