From nbc.mylaunch online August 1998

Mark Lanegan In the Midnight Hour

The albums that Screaming Trees has made on his own are among the most stunning of the past decade. Steeped in ancient blues and modern-day despair, they never reach out and grab you but rather percolate under your skin until they have become one with your deeper self. That is, provided your soul responds to such things. Like the music Tim Buckley, of whom Lanegan is a fan, or the Red House Painters, of whom he is not, Lanegan's music is devoid of quick fixes and demands you listen for the long haul.

Scraps At Midnight is Lanegan's third solo outing. Like his first two, The Winding Sheet and Whiskey For The Holy Ghost, Scraps is haunted by the difficulties Lanegan faced getting the album done. He wrote and recorded the album in only a few weeks.

"I had to do it real fast due to circumstances," he says slightly mysteriously--eventually adding, "I was still living in the drug treatment facility when I made it, but I got out on furlough." He laughs, but it's not a lighthearted wheeze--it resonates with the direness of his situation. "It's actually how I wanted to record Whiskey but wasn't able to because it's like a mental ass-beating," he explains. "The first time I ever sang them was on-mic; I wrote the lyrics right before I sang them." Lanegan's troubles with heroin have caused difficulty in all aspects of his life. His rare live solo performance in New York City last year was a shambles. "I was very sick. I'd been a drug addict for a great many years and that was a particular low in the history," he admits. "I don't know why I was doing it. I was barely able to walk upright, much less play shows. I guess when you put together a band of guys who have never met each other and rehearsed not even once and expect to take it on the road, it doesn't really work." Now clean, Lanegan hopes his music can reach out to others the way music reached out to him. "I know there are some people will hear it and not feel so alone." While the album has its moment of lysergic freakout ("Because Of This"), most of it is the sort of thing that could have been whispered in someone's apartment. "A lot of records I enjoy listening to don't have drums at all, which is kind of ironic because I was originally a drummer," says Lanegan. "I try to make the kinds of records I enjoy listening to. There's just something about the way a voice sounds when things are quieter." Odd, quiet records have a tendency to go undernoticed by the public at large--something that bothers Lanegan not at all. In fact, he's already recorded an EP of covers (including Bobby "Blue" Bland's "I'll Take Care of You" and Tim Hardin's "Shiloh Town") and most of the music for his next solo album. "I have a lot of friends who have sold a lot of records and I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I think I've had about all the impact I can stand. Music's simply meant to go where it's meant to go."

Rob O'Connor