Today is the 31st birthday of Barrett Martin, Screaming Trees'
drummer/percussionist and member of Tuatara, the side band of R.E.M.
guitarist Peter Buck. Martin recently served as the drummer on R.E.M.'s in-the-
works album, the group's first since the departure of original drummer Bill Berry.
After a stint in Skin Yard, Martin joined Seattle-based grunge
band Screaming Trees in 1991, just as the genre was exploding onto the U.S.
scene with the success of Nirvana's Nevermind. While the Trees had
been together since 1985 and were one of the first Seattle bands to sign
with a major label, they never achieved the popularity of bands such as Nirvana
and Pearl Jam. Screaming Trees' 1992 album, Sweet Oblivion, was
more accessible and successful than
previous Screaming Trees albums but still failed to
achieve gold status, despite the band's year-long tour to support it.
Following the tour, which was fraught with disagreements, the Trees took
an extended hiatus. In 1994, lead singer Mark Lanegan released his
second solo album, and that same year, Martin drummed for Mad Season, the
side project of Pearl Jam's Mike McCready and Alice in Chains' Layne
Staley. In 1996, Screaming Trees released the George Drakoulias-produced
Dust, which received generally good reviews and yielded the single
HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Screaming_Trees/All_I_Know.ram">"All I Know"
Know"(RealAudio excerpt). Despite the band's appearance on that year's
edition of the
Lollapalooza tour, the album was a commercial disappointment. When
Screaming Trees then took another break in 1997, Martin joined Tuatara -- the
side band of R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck -- which released the debut album,
Breaking the Ethers (the group's sophomore album, Trading With The
Enemy, is scheduled for release in May). Martin was then recruited to assist
R.E.M. in the studio when they received notice from Berry in late '97 that he
would leave the band. Martin is not an official replacement for Berry in R.E.M. --
the band is working with other musicians, as well -- and there is still no word if
he will join the band's world tour next year.
Other birthdays: Buddy Knox, 65; Loretta Lynn, 63; Ritchie Blackmore (Deep
Purple/Rainbow), 53; Patrick Fairley (Marmalade), 52; Larry Ferguson (Hot
Chocolate), 50; Joey Pesce ('Til Tuesday), 36; and Martyn Le Noble
(Porno for Pyros), 29.