|Spin, February 1994
A Tree Grows In Seattle
Mark Lanegan branches out on a solo venture.
Mark Lanegan, singer for Seattle's Screaming Trees, has the kind of voice
that makes any material sound good - he could sing the phone book and it
would sound...well, really boring, but you know what I mean. On Whiskey for
the Holy Ghost, his second solo album for Sub Pop, he gets far more
compelling subject matter with which to deal, and pulls it off with typical
Similar in theme to Lanegan's acclaimed 1990 disc, The Winding Sheet,
Whiskey is a melancholic tonic, filled with dark, boozy tales of loss and
regret, accompanied mostly by spare acoustic arrangements (courtesy of Mike
Johnson, currently serving as bass player for Dinosaur Jr.) that contrast
pretty obviously with the Trees' usual modus operandi.
"I got this hard rock band, so to speak, that I make these other kind of
records - much louder - with, and I get sick of it," explains Lanegan
quietly. "I'm fucking out there touring for a year this time, listening to
the same songs every night and going deaf. So I guess it's a reaction
against that as much as anything." Never one for the rock spotlight,
Lanegan had to be cajoled into releasing The Winding Sheet, and despite
having gotten over "the humiliation of releasing a solo record," which he
regards as a "fairly pretentious" thing to do, took nearly three years to
complete Whiskey. "The original concept was to record the album in one day,
which we tried to do, but when I went in to sing, I couldn't even get
started," he says. "Only four of the songs are from that original session."
The rest were constructed in dribs and drabs, whenever Lanegan could fit a
couple of days' recording into his busy Trees' schedule. "The record
company definitely started questioning my sanity," he confesses with the
hint of a gleam in his eye. "But I wanted to get it right."
- by Jim Greer