Rockol, November 1998

translated from Italian by Guido Lanzoni

(backstage...) Mr. Lanegan sits down, holding a cup of hot tea; outside is dead cold, he wears a thick navy blue coat and wollen hat. He has this intense but kinda lost stare, like having the impression of facing a plagued and purely honest musician - totally plunged into his art. His latest work "Scraps at Midnight" scores a collection of unique songs, nocturnal and inspired, that appear just dashed off and recorded right away by the leader of Screaming Trees. What follows is a dialogue with one of the most intriguing/fascinating personalities in American rock music.

Q - first of all congratulations for this album, it is truly great and touching.
A - .... thanks.... indeed

Q - it has a very intimate atmosphere, seems like you recorded it totally alone in an empty room... it makes me think at some solo parts by Keith Richards... was this work conceived under such a light?.
A - actually some of these songs were really released this way, on the other hand for others we worked more as a band, giving a different sound. Anyways it all came out very fast, we wrote and recorded all in few days.

Q - How fast?
A - 2 weeks, thats all.

Q - wow, are you a really able to write an album is such a short time?
A - well, this time we really had to do so, it was a good challenge since the previous records took way much longer...

Q - do you agree on the word "intimate" for this album?
A - yeah, as well for the others too. It refers to the kind of music I love to listen to besides rock, thus these tunes reflect this atmosphere. Besides as I was saying many songs were born acoustic, they could be actually played easily this way.

Q - what do you mean when you refer to rock? what are you listening to these days?
A - stuff that has come from England in the past 2 years - like Paul Weller's last record or the one by the Spiritualized. I don't listen to bands that have necessarily the same sound, it doesn't matter to me...

Q - many musicians from Seattle, when questioned about their influences, always end up on some impredictable bands such as Kiss. how come?
A - personally haven't listened to Kiss in a looooong time, but I must confess that they were the very first gig I ever went to. Everyone my age liked 'em way back then, not only from Seattle. It was a super famous rock band, so this explains why we all had their poster up on the wall. Personally they never really get me, I was for the Who, and historical punk bands such as Damned, The Jam, or the Stranglers...

Q - any opinions of brit-pop?
A - I like the Verve, Oasis actually write good tunes but ain't my kind, I prefer Radiohead's record, despite it is something completely different.. I listen to what everybody listens to.

Q - what do you think "Scraps" has in comparison to the former records?
A - different production, in the same place and much faster. "Whiskey" was recorded in different spots and in long amount of time; as I was saying for "Scraps" we all stayed always at the the Joshua Tree Studios, east California., by the desert... it is a unique feature to me, and besides it is the most "direct and naked" record I ever recorded.

Q - what do you seek into music?
A - THE MUSIC, a sequence of chords that makes me open my mouth and sing over a melody; melody hints me to words, and words bring me emotions, it works this way for me.

Q - where this process starts from? just emotions or you indulge with the guitar and something comes out?
A - there are reallly millions of different ways for writing songs, couldn't say which one I go for, 'cause it truly changes from time to time.

Q - do you play every day?
A - naaaaa, actually I grab a guitar only when I write for a new album.

Q - well - you do not "have to", or at least we thought you had a reputation in this sense...
A - .........laughing..... don't shoot on me, lets put it this way: I am a lazy butt that needs to be stimulated, otherwise I will never release records...

Q - you always said you started to play music because you didn't want a real job, and even now - don't you still enjoy yourself with music ???.
A - naa, kidding, I am truly lucky to be doing music, and I will keep continuing this way as long as a chance will be given to me. Couldn't think at me doing something else than this in life, I love rock music.

Q - do you like the music you recorded with the Trees? Does it still represents you?
A - yes, absolutely!. Still very very bound to what we achieved, and I will continue to put out stuff of the Screaming Trees for as long as possible. No matter many years have gone by since the early days, I personally find these records still VERY relevant. I now have the fortune to release "quiet" records on my own and others, more powerful and rock oriented with the Trees; besides these guys are really my family, with whom I have the closest confidence in the world.

Q - ok, Seattle a.k.a. grunge: how much was to be considered good and true on the magazines' headlines of the time?.
A - think there were many grrrreat bands, musicians, and singers, such.......

Q - such as?
A - someone else should actually answer to this question... think Nirvana was a cool band, Kurt an outstanding singer/author, Chris Cornell, Layne Stanley... many bands in our area became very famous at the same time, but in reality has always had a "rich" tradition of talents...

Q - do you still live there?
A - no, California.

Q - the right place for a lazy man?
A - let's say I love the sun... anyways I still currently spend a good amount of time in Seattle with the other member of the band...

Q - when do you consider an album really finished?
A - .... when the stuff I listen to gets close to what I have in mind... I am not the one that says "hey, greeeat, thats the way I want this!", I ain't the technical kinda guy.

Q - any favourite tracks among "Scraps"?
A - Bell Black Ocean, it reminds me of a lullaby I listened to when was a little kid; a song for children.

Q - do you think all of your songs have something in common?
A - yeah, they all have a precisely built personality, and never talk specific; I can actually start from something specific, but - at last - words that I choose describe moods and move away from the original idea, ... thats what binds'em all.

Q - your next solo project?
A - I am about to complete an album of cover songs, tunes that have been an inspirations to my former works. Ain't a precise clue yet of the exact songs that will be put in, since we have already been recording a good bunch...