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Mark Lanegan by Colin Devenish

Screaming Trees' Mark Lanegan Branches Out On Solo Album

As far as guitarist Paul Solger is concerned, the mood and feel of Mark Lanegan's third solo album, Scraps at Midnight, was born at Rancho De La Luna, a single-level ranch house and recording studio bordering Joshua Tree National Park in California.
It's where Solger and Lanegan worked on the LP and where all the music came together.
"All and all, the recording of the album was like no other project I've done. It was so relaxed and unstructured, but somehow this incredibly beautiful album came out of it," Solger said. "I'm sure the studio and where it was had something to do with it ... It was up in Joshua Tree, California, and in a house, so the atmosphere was great compared to a regular studio."
Not surprisingly then, Solger said the 10 tracks on Lanegan's self-produced third effort, scheduled for a late July release, delve into new territory for the singer. As an example, Solger offered a brief description of the ending and opening tracks.
" 'Because of This' definitely goes a little beyond," Solger said. "It's a nine- minute, Stoogesesque psychedelic drone. 'Hospital Roll Call' is the ultimate opening. It's the opening song for every show, a spaghetti western meets a surf movie, then it kinda settles into what we're used to from the first two albums."
Lanegan's previous solo work broke from the Screaming Trees mold as well. The Washington-based Trees forged their reputation on a sound that mixed hard rock and punk. In contrast, Lanegan's first two albums, including the acclaimed 1994 release Whiskey for the Holy Ghost, took steps in a more brooding, acoustic direction.
In recent years, the Screaming Trees have been better known for internal squabbling and Lanegan's well-documented substance abuse problems than for their music.
The simpatico set of musicians on the new Lanegan album included bassist Mike Johnson -- formerly of Dinosaur Jr. -- along with Solger, drummer Kenny Richards, guitarist Fred Drake and Dave Catching, who alternated between acoustic slide guitar, bass and piano.
Solger praised the songwriting and the continuity on the album, saying he thought that it was Lanegan's best work yet.
"It's got nothing to do with the fact I played on it, but I feel it's got stronger songs and plays as a whole from beginning to end better than Mark's first two," Solger said. "Although I like them, too, it's just that we caught something special that week up there in the high desert ... And the fact that Mark was newly clean and sober I'm sure played a huge role."
Curt Page, webmaster of the Screaming Trees' "Sweet Oblivion" website, said in an e-mail that he can't wait to hear Lanegan's latest.
"Lanegan is our most talented singer," Page said. "[It's] sad that more people don't know it."
The complete track listing is: "Hospital Roll Call," "Hotel," "Stay," "Bell Black Ocean," "Last One in the World," "Wheels," "Waiting on a Train," "Day and Night," "Praying Ground" and "Because of This."