Screaming Trees' Mark Lanegan Branches Out On Solo Album

Guitarist Paul Solger says relaxed recording sessions yielded an 'incredibly beautiful 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."