As we close 2015, it was quite depressing putting together the ‘Top 10 Rock Songs Of 2015’ list. There just wasn’t a lot this year to get too excited about. But when it comes to 1995, it was easy to put together a Top 95 Rock Songs of 1995 list. Check out some of the greatest rock songs of 1995, in mostly random order (barring some of the top choices). Thanks to Alternative Nation reporter Greg Prato for contributing songs to this list.
95. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Tearjerker”
94. The Smashing Pumpkins – “Jellybelly”
93. Alice In Chains – “Over Now”
92. The Smashing Pumpkins – “Fuck You (An Ode To No One)
91. Mad Season – “Lifeless Dead”
90. Foo Fighters – “Floaty”
89. Filter – “Dose”
88. Sleater-Kinney – “Sold Out”
87. No Doubt – “Spiderwebs”
86. The Rentals – “Friends of P”
85. Silverchair – “Israel’s Son”
84. Radiohead – “My Iron Lung”
83. Radiohead – “High and Dry”
82. The Smashing Pumpkins – “Porcelina of the Vast Oceans”
81. Alice In Chains – “Sludge Factory”
80. Mad Season – “I’m Above”
79. The Verve – “History”
78. Supersuckers – “Bad, Bad, Bad”
77. No Doubt – “Sunday Morning”
76. 311 – “Don’t Stay Home”
75. Primus – “Southbound Pachyderm”
74. Kyuss – “One Inch Man”
73. Morrissey – “The Boy Racer”
72. Mad Season – “Long Gone Day”
71. The Verve – “This Is Music”
70. Truly – “Blue Flame Ford”
69. Soul Asylum – “Misery”
68. Everclear – “Santa Monica”
67. The Magnificent Bastards – “Mockingbird Girl”
66. Wilco – “Box Full of Letters”
65. Mudhoney – “1995”
64. Collective Soul – “The World I Know”
63. Collective Soul – “Smashing Young Man”
62. Sonic Youth – “The Diamond Sea”
61. Slash’s Snakepit – “Beggars & Hangers-On”
60. Local H – “Cynic”
59. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Warped”
58. Ben Folds Five – “Underground”
57. Ben Folds Five – “Jackson Cannery”
56. Ben Folds Five – “Where’s Summer B?”
55. Morphine – “Honey White”
54. Morphine – “Super Sex”
53. Faith No More – “Digging the Grave”
52. Mr. Bungle – “Chemical Marriage”
51. Faith No More – “Ricochet”
50. Mr. Bungle – “Carry Stress in the Jaw”
49. Faith No More – “Evidence”
48. Mr. Bungle – “Desert Search for Techno Allah”
47. David Bowie – “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson”
46. Meat Puppets – “Scum”
45. Morrissey – “Dagenham Dave”
44. Kyuss – “Hurricane”
43. Faith No More – “Cuckoo for Caca”
42. Meat Puppets – “Taste of the Sun”
41. Meat Puppets – “For Free”
40. Primus – “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver”
39. 311 – “Down”
38. Primus – “Professor Nutbutter’s House of Treats”
37. Collective Soul – “December”
36. PJ Harvey – “Down by the Water”
35. Spacehog – “In the Meantime”
34. Garbage – “Only Happy When It Rains”
33. No Doubt – “Don’t Speak”
32. Radiohead – “Fake Plastic Trees”
31. Bender – “Headless Soldier”
30. Blind Melon – “2 X 4”
29. The Smashing Pumpkins – “Thirty-Three”
28. No Doubt – “Just a Girl”
27. Foo Fighters – “Exhausted”
26. Neil Young & Pearl Jam – “Peace & Love”
25. Mad Season – “I Don’t Know Anything”
24. Blind Melon – “Galaxie”
23. Radiohead – “Just”
22. Oasis – “Don’t Look Back In Anger”
21. Green Day – “Brain Stew”
20. The Smashing Pumpkins – “Zero”
19. Foo Fighters – “This Is A Call”
18. Silverchair – “Tomorrow”
17. Bender – “Rope”
16. Blind Melon – “Toes Across The Floor”
15. The Smashing Pumpkins – “Muzzle”
14. Mad Season – “Wake Up”
13. Oasis – “Wonderwall”
12. Alice In Chains – “Grind”
11. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Aeroplane”
10. The Smashing Pumpkins – “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”
According to Barrett Martin’s Facebook page, Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains, Kim Thayil from Soundgarden, Duff McKagan from Guns N’ Roses and himself will be performing at Seattle’s Experience Music Project to pay tribute to Led Zeppelin guitarist and rock n roll innovator Jimmy Page. Martin’s post reads:
The Seattle contingent is ready for the Jimmy Page Tribute on November 19th at EMP in Seattle. From left to right, Duff McKagan (Guns & Roses) on bass, Barrett Martin (Mad Season) on drums, Jerry Cantrell (Alice In Chains) on guitar, and Kim Thayil (Soundgarden) on guitar. I just gotta say, that was a whole lotta heavy in one room. 8 Led Zeppelin tunes from this particular group, and Barrett and Duff are the house rhythm section for the whole show. Zeppelin is the great church of rock & roll and Mr. Page is our high priest. We are honored to serve.
In our exclusive interview with Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, he discussed the existence of certain unreleased Mad Season material:
I’m not sure what’s going to happen with the songs, they’re out there right now. We listen to them sometimes, but they may morph into something different that isn’t Mad Season, but we’re not sure yet. It depends on when we have the time, and the interest. We’ve been trying to do stuff with them, but hit a roadblock here and there, except for the Mark Lanegan stuff.
Chris Cornell discussed Mad Season and how listening to Above in preparation for his performance with the band’s surviving members earlier this year at Benayora Hall in January. Read the quote below from an interview with WMMR, as transcribed by Alternative Nation.
“When I was asked to do that, what came next was listening to the original recordings, which was listening to Layne sing in headphones over and over to learn it, and feel like I really knew it. That was kind of unexpected, I don’t want to say dark, but it was tough, because I hadn’t really done that. Listening to his voice intimately, and sing those words and sing those songs, it definitely sort of forced me to reckon with what happened in his life, and the fact that he’s not around anymore. I think that’s tough for everybody that knew him, as it is for anyone that loses someone who is a friend that is young, or that affects your life, just fans of his even.
I think that sometimes almost the bigger tragedy in a weird way is all of the future imagined creative projects that could have happened that didn’t. I feel the same way about lots of brilliant people who die young, kind of senselessly especially. If it’s an accident you feel like it’s an act of God, but if you feel like they did it somehow, it’s sort of harder to reconcile. It’s hard to find a silver lining, but it doesn’t change what he did at all.”
He was also asked if he would do more with Mad Season after the Benayora Hall performance earlier this year. “It’s not really something that we talked about, no. We might do something else some day (laughs), who knows?”
AMNY recently interviewed Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell and asked if he would be recording new material with Mad Season (under that moniker) after performing with the band earlier this year in Seattle at Benayora Hall for the Sonic Evolution show. Despite this, he is open to working with the band’s three members.
“I won’t be doing anything under that name because of the historical significance to it. But I’d certainly be amenable to doing stuff with those three guys, Barrett [Martin], Duff [McKagan] and Mike [McCready]. The experience of being on stage with them and just playing a few songs was really amazing. I was really blown away. Having said that I think of it as something far in the future as all of us are slammed busy. But someday, I would love nothing more than to play with those three guys.”
Mad Season released three new songs with Mark Lanegan on vocals in 2013 for the Above reissue.
Mike McCready recently told Alternative Nation that he would like to record with Chris Cornell in the future.
“I’m very proud of the whole Mad Season Benayora Hall album that just came out. We got on the classical charts, we’re number 5 on the classical charts, which is bizarre to me, and amazing. That was an incredible journey that I started 2 and a half years ago talking to Ludovic Morlot, who is the head of our Seattle Symphony. When he said yes I would like to do this, and do these Mad Season songs, that’s when I gave him the CD, and he came back about a year later. Then Chris got involved, and it turned into something bigger and more magical than I could have ever imagined. Jeff and Stone came, we did some Temple [of the Dog] stuff, I know I’m going back in time right now, but I’m very proud of that moment and that release, that we recorded it. Maybe we’ll do something else, we filmed some stuff from that show, so maybe we’ll do something with that someday.
I’d like to do something else with the Symphony someday, but I kind of need to figure out what that is, and if they’d even like to do that again. I’d love to do any kind of cool independent movies that touch me, that come my way. I’m sure we’ll end up doing some Pearl Jam stuff next year. Like I said opportunities arise if you are aware of them, if you keep your ear to the ground. I don’t know, I’d love to do something with Cornell again, he’s very busy, but that would be an amazing thing too, and I look forward to doing more stuff with my guys too. And really just some more stuff on the label, maybe something with Star Anna, I’d like to do that too.”
Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready joined Chris Cornell onstage last night at Benayora Hall in Seattle to perform Temple of the Dog’s “Hunger Strike” and Mad Season’s “River of Deceit.” Watch videos below.
Before We Disappear
Can’t Change Me
The Times They Are A-Changin’ (Bob Dylan cover) (Rewritten version called “The Times Are A-Changin’ Back”)
As Hope & Promise Fade
Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart
Fell on Black Days (Soundgarden song)
Thank You (Led Zeppelin cover)
River of Deceit (Mad Season cover)
Hunger Strike (Temple of the Dog song)
Wide Awake (Audioslave song)
Doesn’t Remind Me (Audioslave song)
Be Yourself (Audioslave song)
Blow Up the Outside World (Soundgarden song)
Let Your Eyes Wander
All Night Thing (Temple of the Dog song)
Call Me a Dog (Temple of the Dog song)
When I’m Down
Rusty Cage (Soundgarden song)
Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden song)
Like a Stone (Audioslave song)
Nothing Compares 2 U (Prince cover)
Ave Maria (Franz Schubert cover)
Cleaning My Gun
Wooden Jesus (Temple of the Dog song)
I Threw It All Away (Bob Dylan cover)
Mike McCready discussed Mad Season and Chris Cornell in an interview with Alternative Nation earlier this month:
I’m very proud of the whole Mad Season Benayora Hall album that just came out. We got on the classical charts, we’re number 5 on the classical charts, which is bizarre to me, and amazing. That was an incredible journey that I started 2 and a half years ago talking to Ludovic Morlot, who is the head of our Seattle Symphony. When he said yes I would like to do this, and do these Mad Season songs, that’s when I gave him the CD, and he came back about a year later. Then Chris got involved, and it turned into something bigger and more magical than I could have ever imagined. Jeff and Stone came, we did some Temple [of the Dog] stuff, I know I’m going back in time right now, but I’m very proud of that moment and that release, that we recorded it. Maybe we’ll do something else, we filmed some stuff from that show, so maybe we’ll do something with that someday.
I’d like to do something else with the Symphony someday, but I kind of need to figure out what that is, and if they’d even like to do that again. I’d love to do any kind of cool independent movies that touch me, that come my way. I’m sure we’ll end up doing some Pearl Jam stuff next year. Like I said opportunities arise if you are aware of them, if you keep your ear to the ground. I don’t know, I’d love to do something with Cornell again, he’s very busy, but that would be an amazing thing too, and I look forward to doing more stuff with my guys too.
Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell discussed the tragic deaths of Layne Staley and Andrew Wood in a new interview with Rolling Stone Australia, how Eddie Vedder helped Seattle’s rock scene heal after Wood’s death, and the emotion he felt when revisiting Mad Season’s Above when he was preparing for January’s Sonic Evolution performance.
“I had a similar sentiment that was actually based more around the Mad Season songs. I think there’s something about the Temple songs that always feels triumphant to me, and the reason I say that is because we were all really young, and as far as I know, none of us had had anything like that happen to us – where someone young and really close to us, and who had such promise and was so inspiring as a songwriter and as a person, dies, needlessly, unexpectedly, and there’s no way to characterise it in a positive way. There was no silver fucking lining to that happening ever. And yet, Temple kind of became this moment where we came together as friends in mourning and we created something that became timeless. And the experience of doing it was really great. There was no tension, there were no expectations for it commercially or otherwise, we were all enjoying each other’s company as well as enjoying making the album together. I was having this great moment of taking songs I had written and seeing a completely different group of people approach them, and see what that could turn into, and it turned into an amazing thing.
And also Pearl Jam was forming [out of the ashes of Andrew Wood’s band, Mother Love Bone] right around the time we were making the record, and it felt like that was a very big healing thing; to have Eddie [Vedder] come into the fold of this small group of friends and just somehow know that he was going to bring something creative into their lives. And that [band] that seemed like it was going to die and wither away suddenly had this huge spark, and our scene as friends and our scene as Seattle musicians went from one moment of mourning and this horrible, dour depression to hopefulness again. I think of that as a really triumphant moment that remembers a friend in the best possible way.
Having said that, doing the Mad Season songs and singing them was really difficult for me, ’cause I didn’t know them. That wasn’t an album I’d performed, I didn’t know all the words. I’d heard the songs but I had to listen to the ones that I sang and learn them and then learn the lyrics. And what ended up happening was, I’m listening to Layne [Staley] singing them over and over and over, and it was so sad. It was so sad to hear his performances and hear his expression and kind of know where he was during that period, which wasn’t great, and you hear this kind of vibrant talent, the character of who he really is coming through in the song, ’cause he was able to do that, he was able to convey that. It might have been the first time I really had to confront the fact that he’s dead and he’s not coming back.”
For most Alternative Nation interviews, I am usually called by a publicist who connects me to the musician I am interviewing. Some musicians are late, have topics they don’t want to discuss, and time limits. Mike McCready was different. At 1PM sharp on Monday afternoon I received a call from the legendary Pearl Jam guitarist personally, right on time for the interview. With classiness like this, it’s no wonder that Pearl Jam have one of the most loyal fanbases in rock.
McCready was very personable, willing to talk about everything from Crohn’s disease, his new HockeyTalkter Records, the state of the music industry, Mad Season’s creative process, working with Eddie Vedder on “Given to Fly,” collaborating with Chris Cornell for Mad Season’s Sonic Evolution live album (and his hopes for future collaborations), Dave Abbruzzese’s exit from Pearl Jam, his memories of Kurt Cobain, the Nirvana and Pearl Jam rivalry, possible No Code and Yield reissues, Pearl Jam’s 25th anniversary, a potential Lost Dogs sequel album, and much more. Interviews like this are why I launched this website six years ago, under the Grunge Report name. Pearl Jam were the first band I ever saw live back in July 2006 at the LA Forum (unless you count what was left of The Beach Boys in 2000), and one of the key bands that made me fall in love with the alternative nation.
McCready played in a flag football tournament over the weekend to raise money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, so we started off by discussing his struggles with Crohn’s disease. Note that the cell reception was a bit choppy for the first couple of minutes of the interview.
First off something I wanted to ask you about since I have a stomach condition myself, and I’ve seen all the great charity work you’ve done for it like the football tournament over the weekend, is how you’ve dealt with Crohn’s disease. I’ve read interviews where you’ve described the pain you suffered with it leading to some of your great guitar playing, and stories about how it first came on. I’m curious how you dealt with Crohn’s as a touring musician, how understanding your bandmates were, and basically how you have persevered through it?
I’ve been very lucky. I’ve had more of a mild case than a lot of people have. My bandmates have been supportive of it, [we knew each other] forever. With any sort of ailment, you hope that the people you are surrounding yourself with will be supportive of it, in terms of family, band, or work, whatever the situation is, and they were, and are. How I’ve dealt with it over the years, is just [finding the bathrooms] all the time on the road. Sometimes you don’t find it, and it’s a big mess, and it sucks, and sometimes those big messes [happen] on stage, and it’s super painful, but sometimes you can get through it. I just keep going. I feel like as I continue to meet more people that have Crohn’s or Colitis, certainly the younger kids who really have it bad, I kind of learn how they deal with it. I learn how people who have had it for a long time deal with it.
By having open lines of communication [with people who have] Crohn’s or Colitis, it makes it easier to bear, even though it still sucks. Ever since I’ve kind of started talking about it, I’ve found a lot of people that have come up to me who have aunts who have it, or uncles, or they have it. When I got it when I was 21 in 1986, no one knew what it was, and I didn’t know anybody who had it. Now there’s the CCFA, there’s things that go on around the United States and around the world, in terms of walks and runs, and camps like Camp Oasis, which is where kids go to up here in the Northwest, or down in California, they all have Crohn’s and Colitis. These are all positive things that I try to key into, and I have been over the last 10 years. That’s not saying it’s not hard and it’s not a struggle, but life is a struggle sometimes. I keep going, [and] hope it doesn’t get worse.
I first started having stomach problems when I was 20, so I really relate when I read your story. I know 1 or 2 other people [with similar problems], but it’s just tough to talk about, that’s why what you are doing is great, [and] it’s also a stomach problem I have, so it’s something I can really relate to.
You know about the immediacy of it, and the pain, and the nightmare of it, as I do. So I feel it, I understand it. It sucks.
But onto lighter things! You recently launched your own label HockeyTaltker Records with a Danny Newcomb release. Why did you start the label, and what kind of artists are you looking for for the label?
It’s kind of just a passion of vinyl for me. I love vinyl, I love 45’s, I love 12 inches or 10 inches, all the formats I grew up with I still listen to and enjoy the warmth of it. Danny Newcomb, case in point, is a phenomenal guitar player from the Northwest, he was in a band called Goodness. He was one of my oldest dearest friends, I’ve known him since we were 5 years old. Had he not gotten a guitar when we were on the block and wanting to jump around to KISS in 1977 or 1978, I may not have ever picked a guitar up. He was a big influence on me, and still is to this day. He’s just turned into a really good singer-songwriter, I’m kind of blown away by his voice right now, and happy for him, so I wanted to help him out.
Our next release is the Stereo Embers, which is again more friends of mine in Seattle. Tim DiJulio is a dear friend of mine, who plays in Flight to Mars, they have a really cool singer named Robb Benson, he’s been around the scene for awhile. They’re very power pop, kind of harder rock, it’s stuff that I enjoy. I’m not just staying in that genre, I’m just looking for stuff that I like, and stuff that the President [of the label] Chris Adams likes. It’s not like a [major] release or anything, it’s like 500 45’s, or 1,000 45’s, depending on what we think we can make back, and to promote those bands. It’s not a huge endeavor, and we’ve just started it, so we’re hoping we can turn it into something someday maybe. Right now I just want to have fun with it, so I’m open to any kind of band.
Especially having started a label, I’m curious what your thoughts on the industry are today when it comes to opportunities for new artists to break through. There’s a lot of known artists out there with their own takes, like Gene Simmons last year, Taylor Swift boycotting Apple Music initially, and Billy Corgan has had a lot to say. How do you think a band can make it today and become a household name like Pearl Jam, and make a living making music? Is it possible today?
I hope it’s possible. I think the next thing is out there. I think that the availability of channels to put music out, there’s thousands and thousands of ways to do that, and there’s YouTube. The problem is there’s thousands and thousands of bands doing the same thing. I don’t know how bands make it, I don’t know how we made it. We were kind of around at the right time in Seattle, and had record label support early on, which I don’t think happens any more. I think that there is a possibility for bands to make it now, I mean if I look at Macklemore and how he self-released everything via the internet and was very successful with that, and then got on the road and toured. It still probably comes down to touring, and putting people in clubs, and getting a fanbase. I hope it’s still that, and it’s not just American Idol and that kind of crap, which isn’t really around any more.
I don’t know what it takes these days Brett, it’s a whole different landscape from when I started. I was trying to hang onto my pants so to speak (laughs), and I don’t know how that all happened, that whole thing was bigger than us. I wish I had the answers. There’s a singer-songwriter named Star Anna, I wish she would get famous, or at least get a career, because she’s really really a great singer, and has a great soul to her. But people haven’t caught onto it yet, so maybe it’s just right around the corner.
Yeah, a lot of people who go on my site are looking for the next Seattle Grunge type movement, but now with the internet everything is so fragmented, that it’s just tough. But maybe that will lead to the next great bands being formed, you never know.
Maybe it will be a backlash to the internet thing, and it’ll just be a scene that creates itself somewhere in the United States, or in Cleveland, or in Canada, or in Belgium, who knows? That’s the exciting thing about music, you never know where it’s going to come, or what people are influenced by, or who it can influence, and where it can come from. There are many factors [that go into] what the next big thing will be.
Now moving onto your songwriting. How would you compare the process of writing songs with Eddie Vedder and Layne Staley, especially the one on one collaborations like “Given to Fly” and “River of Deceit”?
Hmm, good question. I’ll start with Eddie. With “Given to Fly” it was kind of an easy process. I came up with the whole idea, and I just worked on it on a snow day, when it actually snowed in Seattle back then in [1997 or 1998]. I think I worked up a demo of it, and then brought it into the band, and we just kind of kicked it around, and Ed seemed inspired by it. He would start singing melodies, and ideas and words. There wasn’t really any structure per se, from what I recall vocally, other than some melodies when we first were working on it. And then he, as he will do, will take it in the back room and bring his typewriter out, and start typing on his old school typewriter, and coming up with some lyrics. This may have happened over the couple of days after I had brought it in. He comes back, and starts singing, and it’s like oh my god, this is amazing.
With Ed, when he gets inspired, he does it 100%, and he goes in and he takes his time with it too. It could have taken longer than a couple of days, but when the first early demos of it were done, it was very exciting. It’s a situation where a song gets better because [now that] there are lyrics to it, and your band have made it better. Jeff [Ament]’s playing a bass a certain way, or Stone [Gossard]’s bringing in a little melody that I would never think of, or at that time Jack Irons was bringing kind of a groovy drum beat shuffly thing that I wouldn’t have thought of.
With Layne and “River of Deceit,” to get back into that time period, it was an interesting time. There was a lot of darkness going on, but there was also some light, and there was some music happening. Mad Season had started with Barrett [Martin], [John] Baker [Saunders], Layne and myself. It was kind of an open template in terms of music. When I talked to Layne about this project initially, it was just kind of like: ‘Layne do whatever you want to do. Do you have any vocals, or any songs you want to bring in? We’ll do whatever.’ I kind of wanted it to be that type of band, where all four guys were making decisions on it, in terms of songwriting or whatever. I remember having that conversation with him, he seemed into that. He had been reading a book called The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran at the time, and he explained that to me, and I thought wow, that is super deep. I came up with this little melody, and I felt kind of proud of it. It was a new thing, it was a situation where I was starting to be able to write songs and feel comfortable in Mad Season, where I maybe wasn’t with Pearl Jam because there were so many songwriters in Pearl Jam that were really good, and I at that time didn’t have the confidence, and I think that Mad Season allowed that just by it happening.
When we sat down and worked on it, I remember him just (sings): ‘My pain, is self chosen.’ It just seems right. Again, going off the template of kind of anything goes with Barrett, he would bring in violas and play one, or vibes, he hit pipes together (laughs), he had the most kind of eclectic musical taste that I’ve seen in a person, I think ever. I also loved him as the drummer of the [Screaming] Trees. Then my friend Baker, who I [brought in] from Minneapolis, kind of a trusty old blues guy that was super funny, I loved how he played. I think Layne felt like the situation was, I don’t know how he really felt, but I think he enjoyed it. There was a freedom in Mad Season from what I recall, in terms of the songwriting.
You recorded a lot of Mad Season demos in the late 90’s for a second album, a few of which were finally completed with Mark Lanegan for the box set a couple of years ago. What is happening with the rest of those songs? Could they be used for a solo record, or maybe something with guys like Chris Cornell singing on them like the Sonic Evolution concert?
I love all of those ideas. I haven’t thought about doing a solo record, I feel like as people have asked me that before, I’ve been doing a little bit of scoring on independent films, and some TV work, I kind of enjoy that right now. I’m not sure if I want to completely dedicate myself, I might be too lazy to try to do that (laughs). Certainly I would play with Chris Cornell in Alaska, I would play with that guy anywhere. If he wanted to write with us, Barrett, me, and Duff [McKagan], we would be honored. I would write with Chris any minute of the day.
I’m not sure what’s going to happen with the songs, they’re out there right now. We listen to them sometimes, but they may morph into something different that isn’t Mad Season, but we’re not sure yet. It depends on when we have the time, and the interest. We’ve been trying to do stuff with them, but hit a roadblock here and there, except for the Mark Lanegan stuff.
This year with Kurt Cobain there’s been a lot of coverage on him, and I was interested in getting your take on that. The documentary ‘Montage of Heck’ came out this year, I don’t know if you saw that.
I haven’t seen it yet.
I’m curious on your take on the public persona presented of Kurt to fans over the years, is that the same guy you remember?
I have to pull myself in back to the early 90’s. I didn’t know Kurt very well, but I’d see him around, I’d see their shows. I met him a few times, we played some shows, we opened up for Nirvana and the [Red Hot Chili] Peppers in San Diego, San Francisco, and Portland. We also played on a festival with them in Europe. It was just kind of an intense time, everybody was going through their thing, and NME was saying Nirvana and Pearl Jam were enemies, and all of the silly shit that was going on back then, it was kind of blown up in the press. So we were just doing our thing, and they were doing their thing. He was certainly an amazing songwriter and singer, these are all things that are just obvious statements.
In terms of the perception I remember, one of my fond memories was when we were at the MTV Music Awards I think in 1992. Nirvana was there, and we were there. We were sitting kind of close to them, but not really that close, and there was some tension and stuff apparently in the press. I was just kind of there, and I went: ‘You know what, I’m just going to talk to him. I don’t give a shit.’ I jumped over the seats and I just went and talked to him. I went, ‘Hey, I heard you and Ed were talking about maybe doing a solo thing sometime, and if you ever wanted some leads on it or anything, I would love to do it.’ He was just kind of like, ‘Ah, we’ll talk about it later.’ Something like that, so I was like: ‘Okay.’ I just wanted to put it out there, and hold the olive branch out there, because we all came from the same Northwest Scene. He’s an icon, he was an incredible singer-songwriter. I haven’t seen that movie yet so I can’t comment on it, but I do see Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl around sometimes, and it’s always good to see them.
Now when I told a few Pearl Jam fansites that I was going to interview you, everybody wanted me to ask you about Dave Abbruzzese and his firing from Pearl Jam. There’s always been so much mystery surrounding it, Dave was such a great drummer for the band, obviously Pearl Jam have had so many great drummers. What are your memories of Dave leaving the band?
I just remember that it wasn’t working out anymore. I think Stone had to go talk to him about it. There may have been things that were leading into it, but I don’t remember because it was so long ago. Stone and him had a conversation, and he was out. It was just something where he wasn’t working any more, in terms of personality wise I think, from what I recall. But I always had fun with him on the road, we had a good time, we really did have a good time.
He was an integral part of our band when we needed to have a drummer after the record had blown up. Matt Chamberlain, who was our second drummer at the time, had gone to Saturday Night Live, and we were about to get on the road and try to get on a giant tour. It might have been around the time it was us and the [Smashing] Pumpkins and Peppers, and then Lollapalooza. We needed to have a drummer right before those things, and he had recommended Dave, and he fit in perfect in the beginning. He knew how to play stuff, he was a hard hitter, and he had a groove. He played on Vs., which is a great record. But as things do, people change, and we were all in the middle of a maelstrom and whirlwind of the band getting famous and huge. Tensions will rise out of that, and honestly I don’t remember, we’ve had a lot of drummers, luckily we have Matt [Cameron] now, thank god.
Last year you played No Code and Yield live. When will the reissues for those albums come out, and what do you think might be included on them?
Good question. I don’t know, I’d love to put those back out, and that’s a conversation between Jeff, Ed, and Christian. But I think those are the next ones in line to come out, but I don’t have any dates on that. I’m sure we have some stuff left over, floating around. The majority of it was on Lost Dogs, some of the songs that were of that era I believe were on Lost Dogs, so there may not be a ton of stuff that would be with it, but there will be something. We have vaults and vaults, and files and files of stuff that we’ve all forgotten about, but are categorized, and we know where the tangible things are. I hope they come out soon, but I don’t have any kind of date or anything I could tell you.
You could always put those shows from last year on them. I think that would be great.
Yeah, we did do those. It’s an interesting thing trying to play a record all the way through live, because it doesn’t give you a lot of leeway, at least for me in terms of improvisation, and kind of how we do sets as we tour. You just kind of have to do it as close as you can to the record, and that requires a little bit of of diligence, and stress. But at the same time it’s a cool thing that happens, so you’re kind of willing to go through all of that. Until we started doing it Brett, it was like: ‘Oh yeah, we’ve got to do it this way.’ Structurally it’s going to sound different than our sets that we usually do, but it’s special to people, so that’s the important reason to do it.
You mentioned Lost Dogs, could we maybe see a second Lost Dogs type album come out in the future, because some Riot Act [and Avocado] stuff leaked on the internet a year or two ago, and there’s been some talk of unreleased Backspacer material, there was talk of the time about maybe an EP. Could you see those songs coming out?
I’m sure we could do something. We definitely have stuff that is left over from Backspacer, and from our last record too. We all come in with a lot of stuff. Some gets looked at, some gets kind of put aside, and some gets put on the backburner. The backburner stuff, there’s some pretty good stuff, I’d imagine we’d have another record for the B-sides and stuff like that. We just have to kind of go through them. We’re lucky in this band in terms of everybody writes a lot of songs, Ed’s receptive to that, that leaves us with a lot of songs, so that leaves us with a lot of stuff maybe to put out another Lost Dogs. I can’t comment on that, that would be another Jeff and Ed thing. We haven’t really talked about all of that this year, but I know that stuff is out there, and that we have extra songs for sure.
Pearl Jam are at a point where you guys can pick and choose where and when you play. You’re playing the Global Citizens Fest coming up, Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, and have a Latin America tour, and there are always fans in the southern United States, I’ve got a buddy in Florida, and also fans in Europe clamoring for shows. How do you guys decide where to play, and when to play? And also, where would you like to play in the future?
How we go about the process is we look at it kind of year to year, and we look at where the offers come from. Business wise, that’s kind of where you have to make the decisions. What we have to do to support our fan club, our management, our families, what we need to make for the year. Then we have the certain places we enjoy going, and we know we’ll do very well at. We’re very grateful that we can go to South America and play to really big crowds down there: 50, to 60, to 70,000 people. It’s a very powerful experience, and exciting. Or we’ll go to Australia and do the same, play in the States, maybe do less than that, but it’s still fun to play here.
We kind of look at a couple of things per year, maybe three legs of a tour, and hitting specific areas like Europe, and maybe the midwest, these are all hypotheticals. In the past we’ve done South America and Canada. We don’t want to be out forever, we have other things we do, but we certainly love it and we want to be out there at times. We all get the itch to be playing music again, and interact with the crowd, and play those songs live, because that’s what we do. But we do talk about it, and have meetings about it and kind of decide what we want to do in the coming year, tentatively. It’s never that mapped out, but then it does get mapped out, if that makes sense.
Right. Are there any plans to celebrate Pearl Jam’s 25th anniversary, kind of like the Pearl Jam 20 one?
I haven’t heard of anything about that, but I’d like to do something for sure. I’m happy to be still around (laughs), we’re still around one more year. It’s astonishing to be here for 24 [years], or 23 and a half, or wherever we’re at now, and we’re talking, and we’re still talking about Pearl Jam because there’s a lot of bands that aren’t around any more that we came up with. I feel very lucky and grateful that we can still do that. So who knows, there’s probably some surprises that I don’t know of yet, but again, we haven’t talked about it yet.
Pearl Jam have worked a lot with the great Brendan O’Brien over the years. Are there any other producers you’d like to maybe see Pearl Jam work with in the future, or is Brendan just the perfect guy at this point?
I can’t think of anybody else off the top of my head. I love Brendan, he’s kind of in our inner sanctum. He pushes us, we push him I’m sure. He’s a really good guitar player, has a great overall ear, and a good sound. He helped me write, he helped us all kind of bash in our songs together, he was very instrumental in pushing “Sirens” through for me, so I’m very happy with his direction on that. But I can’t think of any other producers off the top of my head that I would want to work with. I really enjoy Brendan, and I think we all feel that way, and that’s why we continue to use him. Maybe someday we do our own thing by ourselves. We’ve thrown that idea around, but that takes a lot of focus, and a lot of energy that we may not want to put into it. Brendan helps bring the energy and focus, and encapsulates it and has an overall view of where something can go. When you are kind of in the middle of it, you don’t know where it’s going to go, so it’s good to kind of have a captain at the head of it.
What is next for you musically next year? Because you do so much, you just did the Raw Power gig, you did some collaboration with Walking Papers a little while back, Mad Season, just so much. So what’s next for you next year, new Pearl Jam, new Mad Season, new collaborations? What do you think is coming next year for you musically?
Good question, I don’t know. I’m very proud of the whole Mad Season Benayora Hall album that just came out. We got on the classical charts, we’re number 5 on the classical charts, which is bizarre to me, and amazing. That was an incredible journey that I started 2 and a half years ago talking to Ludovic Morlot, who is the head of our Seattle Symphony. When he said yes I would like to do this, and do these Mad Season songs, that’s when I gave him the CD, and he came back about a year later. Then Chris got involved, and it turned into something bigger and more magical than I could have ever imagined. Jeff and Stone came, we did some Temple [of the Dog] stuff, I know I’m going back in time right now, but I’m very proud of that moment and that release, that we recorded it. Maybe we’ll do something else, we filmed some stuff from that show, so maybe we’ll do something with that someday.
I’d like to do something else with the Symphony someday, but I kind of need to figure out what that is, and if they’d even like to do that again. I’d love to do any kind of cool independent movies that touch me, that come my way. I’m sure we’ll end up doing some Pearl Jam stuff next year. Like I said opportunities arise if you are aware of them, if you keep your ear to the ground. I don’t know, I’d love to do something with Cornell again, he’s very busy, but that would be an amazing thing too, and I look forward to doing more stuff with my guys too. And really just some more stuff on the label, maybe something with Star Anna, I’d like to do that too.
Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell discussed Mad Season’s possible future following their January 2015 Sonic Evolution performance in a Pearl Jam Radio special with Mike McCready on SiriusXM, as transcribed by Alternative Nation.
“Saying yes was easy, because it’s an honor, but I was a little afraid being in the middle of recording. I have that certain type of ADD that sort of forces you to only focus on one thing, and it was kind of like, oh to do this, I don’t really want to do that. Then I was kind of tossing it up, and it was actually my wife Vicky who said: ‘Well you have to do it.’ Wives have sort of that role, they tell you everything is going to be okay, and tell you to shut up. Then I thought, God you’re right, it’s not going to come up again.”
He added, “Unless, and this is always something to think about, this could be an annual thing. Could do it again and again.”
McCready responded, “Hey, any time you want to do anything like this, especially the Temple [of the Dog] stuff, which sounded great.”
Mike McCready discussed Chris Cornell standing in for the late, great Layne Staley at the Sonic Evolution Mad Season concert from January at Benaroya Hall in Seattle in a new Pearl Jam Radio special on SiriusXM. You can read a quote transcribed by Alternative Nation below.
“We chose to record three Mad Season songs with the symphony. I wanted it to be a representation of each guy that wrote in the band as much as possible. Selfishly, I wanted to do ‘River of Deceit,’ because I wrote the music for that, but also Layne wrote the lyrics for that, as he did with everything else. ‘Long Gone Day,’ which is basically written by Barrett [Martin], and again Layne and Mark Lanegan wrote the lyrics to that. Then Josh Evans had the idea to do ‘I Don’t Know Anything,’ which was kind of out of left field, and I didn’t know how that was gonna work, but it ended up turning out really cool. That was Layne’s song that he wrote on that record, along with others.
So it was kind of a good representation of the whole record, I think for three songs they became way huger than I ever imagined they could be, in a different way with Chris Cornell singing on top of them. When I heard he wanted to do that, I literally jumped for joy, I couldn’t believe it. He brought his take to it, and did it beautifully, and I think Layne would have been proud.”
Chris Cornell discussed fronting Mad Season for their January 2015 Sonic Evolution concert in a new interview with Radio 929. Cornell praised the show, but downplayed rumors of a full fledged reunion.
“Well, that’s not something we ever really talked about, but I can say that I really enjoyed being on stage with those guys, and it was kind of a shock to be standing there…I was trying to remember the songs and trying to sing them well and sort of do right by the history of it, and once I was on stage and we were doing it, then it kind of hit me, I’m standing here with these guys, all of which I’ve known for years and years and been friends with but had never been on stage with them like that. It was pretty great. It was pretty moving.”
Mad Season recently released the concert as a live album, see more information below:
On January 30, 2015, surviving Mad Season members Mike McCready and Barrett Martin performed selections from the band’s repertoire at the Seattle Symphony’s Sonic Evolution concert, with conductor Ludovic Morlot and guest artists including Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell (filling in for the late Layne Staley), Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron and Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan (filling in for the late John Baker Saunders).
The Mad Season performance also included guests Jeff Angell, Kim Virant, Sean Kinney (Alice In Chains), Skerik, and Tim Dijulio. The night also included an appearances from Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard who alongside Cornell, McCready, and Cameron, performed songs as Temple Of The Dog.
This event was the result of a year-long artistic collaboration between Mike McCready and Seattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot. Proceeds from the album sales will benefit the Seattle Symphony and the Vitalogy Foundation.
1. Waking The Horizon (McCready w/ Symphony)
2. Long Gone Day – Mad Season w/ Symphony
3. River Of Deceit – Mad Season w/ Symphony
4. I Don’t Know Anything – Mad Season w/ Symphony
5. Wake Up – Mad Season
6. Lifeless Dead – Mad Season
7. Above – Mad Season
8. Call Me A Dog – Temple Of The Dog
9. Reach Down – Temple Of The Dog
10. All Alone – Mad Season
Mike McCready (Pearl Jam/Mad Season), Barrett Martin (Mad Season/Screaming Trees), Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver), and Mark Arm (Mudhoney) performed songs from the catalog of punk pioneer Iggy Pop and his genre-defining band the Stooges on the Pike Place Market rooftop in Seattle yesterday for the Raw Power: A Tribute To The Stooges concert. Ticket sales benefited the Pike Place Market Foundation’s Pike Up! Capital Campaign. The Raw Power tribute drew a massive crowd, you can watch the epic show and see the setlist below!
I Got A Right
I Need Somebody
Down on the Street
Search & Destroy
Last week, KEXP posted articles spotlighting the performers for Raw Power KEXP, Below are excerpts from their short interviews with Mike McCready (Pearl Jam/Mad Season), Mark Arm (Mudhoney), Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees/Mad Season), and Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver).
“I first discovered Iggy and the Stooges around 1982 when I was at a party in the U District that members of Shadow, Green River, and Overlord were all at.
I was aware of Iggy because of my love of the New York Dolls and Alice Cooper. That party was the first time I heard the first side of Raw Power. Its angry guitars and awesome vocals immediately caught my attention. The energy was undeniable as was the feeling of freedom in their sound.”
“In 1979, Kim Warnick of The Fastbacks turned me onto The Stooges. A few nights later, I had a dream I was Iggy, and I was playing a show in a church basement… rolling around in broken glass and totally immersed in the moment of noise and chaos. I still reference that dream before gigs to this day.
“I discovered the Stooges when I was a kid in the ‘70s because my aunt (the rock & roll aunt everyone should have) was playing me records by The Who, The Rolling Stones, and Elton John, and The Stooges got mixed in there, too. I liked the rawness of The Stooges the best, although no one called it punk rock back then, it was too early for that term.”
In a rare interview, Alternative Nation sat down with late Alice In Chains frontman Layne Staley’s mother, Nancy Layne McCallum, for an in-depth exclusive feature. In this interview Nancy discusses Layne’s childhood, how his voice continues to speak for new generations, his tragic final days, whether there is any unreleased music, Demri Parrot, Layne’s religious views, and a possible Layne Staley poetry book.
Also remember to check out the 2015 Layne Staley Tribute Weekend later this month including a fan gathering at Seattle Center International Fountain on August 20th, acoustic night on August 21st at The Central, and the big birthday celebration on August 22nd at The Crocodile.
Nancy, you obviously have some musical talent. Were you the one who first exposed Layne to his musical abilities?
Everybody in our family has really nice voices (except for a couple of people) and we all just sang. There was always music. My parents had beautiful voices. Layne first heard the most beautiful voice in his environment when I was pregnant with him and I was taking voice lessons at Cornish School in Seattle. My voice teacher had been a voice coach in New York on Broadway for forty years. That was the first really big, full, male voice that he ever heard. I think I would credit that voice more than anybody else’s. I was in choir six years with very demanding choir directors. Thank God for them. David Sanarud was my junior high choir teacher and boy, I’m telling you, my choir teachers expected a lot. If your eyes left them, they stopped the whole practice and said, “From the beginning…” We got A++ for our regional competition. Then I took the year of voice at Cornish. I was chosen to be in the first musical to open The 5th Avenue Theater, but I was pregnant with Layne and it just wouldn’t have worked with me climbing on a ladder. So somebody else got the part and I got Layne.
What were your thoughts when you heard the first Alice in Chains album?
When Facelift came out, and he and I were talking on the phone about it (because, I had listened to the tape several times) I said, “Layne I think there’s a sleeper on this album.” He said, “Which one, Mom?” and I said, “Man In The Box.” And he goes, “Oh that’s our next single.” And I said, “Oh Layne, it’s so beautiful.” And he’s like, “I wrote that, Mom”. So I am very proud of him for that song. He wrote the lyrics, I’m sure, is all I thought he meant. But I don’t know that for sure. I don’t know how much he participated in making the music. So, you’d have to ask another band member about that.
I understand that Layne may have played drums before he started singing.
First he took trumpet, because, in fifth grade everybody got an instrument, and he used Uncle Bob’s trumpet. Our friend, Fred, had a set of drums and Layne was interested and he gave them to us. He loaned them. Then Layne bought a set of drums from the neighbor boy. So that’s how his interest in drums progressed, but I don’t remember him taking lessons.
So he had his own drum set, set up in the house?
Yeah. In the living room, the bedroom and the garage. It depended on where they got the best sound.
My take on Layne was that he was not a very judgmental person. I never heard about him ever getting in fights or even having an enemy. Does this sound accurate?
Pretty much. Yep. He was pretty mild-mannered about that even though he certainly had his opinions about people and things and events; but, he wasn’t a fighter. He didn’t make trouble. Nothing I knew about. I heard later funny stories about naughty things he did. And I went, “What!? I can’t believe that.” But you know, boys don’t tell their mothers all the naughty things they do. I knew of a few things that he did around the junior high age that make me angry. But I guess that’s to be expected.
In your opinion, do you think Layne would have married Demri Parrot?
Layne and Demri loved each other dearly. They wanted to be clean and sober.
Tell us something we don’t know about Layne.
I think people would be surprised that he was raised in the Christian Science Sunday School for twenty years. They asked if he believed in God? And I thought, oh, for heaven sake, listen to his music. Of course he did. And we’re all challenged to demonstrate our understanding, and I’m sure that he was very shocked to find that God isn’t going to dig you out of every tunnel that you put yourself in to. You’ve got to do that yourself. And I think that was where he was – that was probably in my world, if he is at all like me, he would’ve been very disappointed in himself for getting himself in something that he couldn’t dig himself out of. And we hear about miracles every day. I even struggled with why didn’t our prayers work? Well there’s, you known, there’s – the universe has a bigger novel to write. And we don’t know about the afterlife, and we do not know what he’s up to these days; but, I’m sure it’s full of humor and trying to make things better for himself and others. If indeed there is an afterlife, and I tend to think there is, he better be behaving, because when I get there I’m checking on him.
Tell us something about you that we don’t know.
You know, I spent fifty years taking care of children…and people think, well…? Well, that includes a lot! It’s a really important job. And I worked with five women friends and started the first parent co-op in a public school in the United States (Mountlake Terrace Elementary). We were on national news when we started it, and then again years later when the kids were now going into junior high. That all grew out of the Edmonds Community College Family Life Program, where we had preschool. We had kids in preschool as they were the little lab rats. And the parents were the students. And it’s a fabulous program. I would recommend to young families to get involved in your community college family life program. It’s amazing. And it just took off from there. There’s PTA and there’s Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and all the things that moms do. And camping, well we didn’t go camping but we went on vacations. And mom’s jobs are huge. They’re huge. And they’re multi-faceted and they’re full-time and, you know, you have extended family and church. And so in life I’ve done a lot that just fills me as a wife and mother, homeowner, pet owner, car repair gal.
Layne had some recording equipment at home. Would any of this music be worthy of release?
There is nothing. We’ve listened to everything and — Just because he had the equipment didn’t mean that he had the professional ability to pull it all together. I know that he practiced on it a lot. Just unfinished little ditties. And I don’t even know if he did them. It might have been a friend going “doodly-wop”. I don’t know. His music room was completely pristine and clean even though the rest of the house was an artist’s home. So I value the possibility, but no. Don’t you suppose that after 13 years if there was something valuable, it would’ve been heard by now?
Do you know who may have been the last person to see Layne?
According to the stories, it was Mike (Starr) and he went to the store for Layne. So that’s all I know.
It’s heart-breaking to think it was you, his mother, who was notified by Layne’s management that there had been no spending activity from him in two weeks. You (and Jim Elmer) then went to his home with the police, broke down the door and discovered him lifeless on April 19, 2002. Is there anything you can clear up? You brought him in this world, and you went to save him.
I didn’t know I was saving him when we were checking on him. And the phone call that I got said, “Now, don’t be overly concerned because it’s not unusual for Layne to take out a sum of money and then just use cash”. And when I got there, I had been there a couple of days before; because, Demri’s brother had died in February and I hadn’t known about it and I didn’t know if Layne knew about it, so I had been there a couple of days before to talk to him about it. There was no answer. I think that would’ve been a Wednesday, yeah. Then when I got the phone call to check on him on Friday, I wasn’t surprised that there wasn’t an answer. He had a little bit of mail by the door, but the kitty meowed, and she had never done that before and somehow that just alerted me. And when he didn’t answer after a while, I thought, well, I better have somebody come and check on him. So that’s when I made the 911 call. The police first went in and then they said – I said, well, I need to go in and be with him. And they said, “Oh I wouldn’t do that.” And I said, “I can do this.” I’ve always promised myself that if anything happened to my children I would be there for them. And I went in, and he was tiny and I thought at first that he had made like a life-sized mannequin of himself because he had lots and lots of art projects always. And I thought, you know, somebody could have thrown that little guy over their shoulder and walked down the street and nobody would have even know that it was a real person.
So, and I sat with him for a few minutes. And I told him that I was really sorry how things had turned out. Because, of course we tried to not pressure him. We always felt like pressure would just push him to the wrong place, and he knew what he had to do. He had to go in treatment, stay in treatment, communicate with his sponsor, stay with healthy people – but the music industry doesn’t afford you the time to do that. And those aren’t healthy people – a lot of them are not. It was pretty tough to get cleaned up. By then he had pretty much secluded, been secluded. So it was shocking to see my child like that. It should have turned out better. And it’s been amazing how many people have expressed their love and support. And they say, “Gee, I hope Layne knew how loved he was.” And I think, Wow, how could he not have known?” I’m sure he did. And then there was the crying and the storytelling and the making the plans. You know I think people who are sweet-hearted deserve to know the truth, and you know, “Warning, warning. Don’t kid yourself. The best of the best succumb to drug addiction. Stay away.”
Why do we lose certain people?
Once Layne and I were on the phone and he was saying, “You know why, Mom? Why did this happen to me?” And I said, “Honey, that’s a witch hunt. Just go to treatment. And move on with your life. We have no idea. We have no idea of the why.” Believe. Don’t take yourself out to teach somebody a lesson. He didn’t. And I mean, everybody’s circumstances are different. I understand that. Don’t judge somebody else. Don’t think you know things you don’t know for sure. You were not there. But the whole why thing is part of a distraction that the world wants you to get distracted away from your purpose. Let it go. You don’t want to blame – what if you figured out the reason and it was someone’s fault? Are you going to go through life judging and blaming? No. Just drop the why and move on.
There is a small bar next to Layne’s last home called the “Blue Moon”. Did he go there?
Yeah, to just hang out and be around people. To come on down and see a band play. I think he knew that he was kind of safe there because they knew not to make a fuss over him. Just let him be.
What are your future plans with Layne’s music?
Please clear this up. It won’t be up to me anyway and won’t be new music. It would be anything that he has the copyright to, and it will be up to professionals. I’m not at all capable of making those decisions. The (same) way the people ask about the artwork.
You often get asked about your lawsuit against Alice In Chains. Can you set the record straight here for all those who ask about the outcome?
It really isn’t anyone else’s business, is it?
Do you have any plans to officially release any artwork or photos by Layne?
Well, I think that it will be up to someone who promotes and that’s probably part of the future. You know, I once asked someone about poetry because we’ve received so many poems. And he has some lyrics that are just – they’re poems, they’re not lyrics. And I thought, well somebody would love that in a poetry book. And I talked with someone who publishes and he goes, “No, we don’t do poetry books.” They just don’t sell very well.” So it has to be a self-published thing or…I don’t know. Until I knew what the parameters were of what my rights are, I really couldn’t make a plan around future projects. He does have some interesting art. And of course he didn’t release it, so did he want it to be released? Those are decisions that are hard to make. I wasn’t a part of his business, and when he came home, it was brownies or chocolate chip cookies and meatloaf and the longest nap he needed and a hot long shower and no interruptions and just visit about other things, be around family and the pets and be home. And so, it wasn’t a lot of talk about business.
The 14th Annual Layne Staley Tribute is coming up in August with three locations of memorials and celebrations. I assume you will be at all three events, but will fans have easier access to meet you at the first gathering – the Fountain?
Absolutely at the Fountain. Because it’s quiet there. At the other events, fans come up and they want to tell me stuff and it’s like, “Hey, I want to hear the bands that we’ve asked to come and play.” I want to hear their music and their renditions, and by the end of the night if I have to talk to people I have such a sore throat. And so if you want to come and visit, come to the Fountain and then we can really visit. And there is always a little acoustic time where we hang out underneath the covering by the Fountain and people bring their guitars, and they bring their cell phones so they can read the words to the music and it’s a sing-along and it’s really sweet. Prior to that, people visit. So that starts around 7pm at the Seattle Center International Fountain.
You have been known to get up on stage and sing the Mad Season song, “Wake Up.” What are your personal reasons for this choice of a song?
I can’t sing most of Layne’s songs. They’re too hard. But I do love them, and I don’t know the words, you know, I’m Layne’s mom. But, I’m talking to the audience. He was. This is the song that mom would sing to this young crowd of people who think that drugs are recreational. They are not! Wake up. He was singing it to them. And I would sing it. It’s you know, I’m not a showman; so there is some music in there where I just sort of hang out on stage and wonder what should I do with my microphone.
But it’s a beautiful song and it means a lot, and you know, it says ‘10 long years of leaves to rake up.’ There’s a Bible verse that said that ‘the leaves were for the healing of the nations’. Our purpose is to be healers and be helpful and be kind and live quietly in your heart and love other people and don’t blame them and don’t judge them. People ask sometimes about, “Oh, did you forgive whatever so-and-so for whatever?” And I go, “You know, to forgive means I had to have judged”. I’m not a judge. And everybody has to square things up with the universe themselves.
So, I kind of love that song for a lot of different reasons besides the fact that it’s easy to learn and I can sing it. But since then I’ve actually learned more of the songs just because of repetition and the environment. You know, I hear bands playing and if I go to a show and they’re on the radio and once in a while I put the music in myself; but, it’s very painful most of the time. And I don’t watch the videos because people say, “Oh, but you have all those videos”. You can watch them. It’s like, do you know what it’s like to see him there and not have him in my world just for everyday stuff?
And besides, that guy onstage was only part of Layne, and he was so many other parts. And he meant so many other things to other people for other reasons.
What else can we expect at a Layne Tribute?
At The Crocodile, two years ago, it was such a spiritual experience. I cannot describe it well enough, but I can tell you that when everyone sang along, it sounded like a choir, like a church. And at the end of the night I jokingly, but not really, I said, “You know it felt like going to church with Pastor Layne presiding”. It was amazing. And people who had been to many, many concerts said they had never had that experience before. So bless his little heart, if that’s what he does. He brings people together to love one another and have a happy memory, and make happy memories. We do little things different every year; but one year, I just said, “You know if you’ve lost a friend to addiction, call their name out. And that was a really sweet few minutes where people just called out their dear friend’s name and everybody was flicking their BIC’s. I don’t know if you can do that anymore because Washington is in a drought. If you want to bring a glow stick, oh, Layne loved glow sticks. Everybody bring your glow sticks. That would be so cool. I also have a friend who wrote a beautiful song for Layne and it’s my understanding is that it will be played at the Crocodile. And I’ve heard it and it’s gorgeous.
Do you have a message you wish to give to fans of Layne’s?
What would Layne say? He said it in his lyrics. He warned you. He described what he was up against. He said stay away. Don’t follow. And in the end, he said we’re alone. And I say we’re all alone together. Each of us has our own experience and past; but, we are walking alongside one another. And ask for help, for heaven’s sake. And for heaven’s sake go to 12-Step if you need help. 12-Step for anything. I don’t care what your obsession is. If your obsession is green and you can’t stand it anymore, go to a 12-Step program. It doesn’t matter what your obsession is. The 12-Step program is the same. If you do too much for others, if you don’t do enough for others, if you smoke, if you gamble, if there’s a sex addiction, if there’s a drug addiction or alcohol, or you can’t talk to people because you sweat, I don’t care what it is, the 12-Step problem solving process is for everyone and for everything. We all have parts of ourselves that are not socially acceptable, that scare us in ourselves, that might not be acceptable in our families, or things that are hidden; because, we don’t want to talk about them or relive them or whatever. But I think that’s the nerve that Layne hits for some people in his music, (but) not everybody. I’ve heard people who said, “Oh, I get so much joy out of his music”. I thought, ‘Do you listen to the words? Because they’re not nice stories.” We know what was going on in some of that and it was very painful. And it’s a part of ourselves that need release and relief. Not that we had to go crazy and wild about, you know stuff, but stuff has to have some kind of outlet. You know maybe you just – maybe you cook or maybe you bang on the drums or maybe you run or ride your bike, whatever it is – stuff has to have an outlet.
Is it true that eventually you answer all fan emails sent to you?
I do. Thirty-one thousand so far and counting. I have one thousand waiting for me at home, but only about three-hundred haven’t heard from me. And I’m still trying to catch up with them. So have patience, and don’t change your e-mail address. Plus a few thousand letters (to answer) because not everybody you know has computers or they want to write. It’s really sweet.
You went to Layne’s twenty-year high school reunion. How was that?
I asked people, “Is Calvin here? Is Calvin here?” (Because he had a friend Calvin that I had never met; but, he used to talk about him). Well several people said, “Layne Staley was Layne Elmer!?” (Because he went to school with his stepdad’s last name). “He was the quietest boy in our class!” So I’m going out, Calvin is coming in, and someone said “There’s Calvin.” And I went up and I said, “I’m Layne’s mom. And I know that you were Layne’s friend.” And we started to talk, it’s kind of a narrow hallway and his back was leaning against one way and I’m facing with my back against another as people are going through, and he said, “That kid could not run a drill press.” And I said, “Well you know people are telling me that he was the quietest kid in class.” And I said, “But once he got out on that stage, he used it for other things.” And Calvin said very seriously and sweetly to me, he said, “Nancy, Layne did it for us all.”
I was surprised to hear that you still go to concerts. (Referring to House of Blues, Fri., July 19, 2015)
The band was Michael Grande’s band, Memory Layne. They played “Queen of the Rodeo” at the House of Blues on Friday night. That‘s a funny song. And it’s on (Alice In Chains’) live album, which is my favorite album; because, it’s so causal. The audience is right there and the guys are wearing their cowboy hats, and then they do “Queen of the Rodeo” in Texas. I just think that’s funny. I also attended the Mad Season concert at Benaroya Hall recently, in Seattle. What a night!
Washington State has now decriminalized recreational marijuana. What are your thoughts on this?
Any state that decides to legalize marijuana is asking for what they get.
It’s interesting that donations for the Layne Staley Memorial Fund go to the Therapeutic Health Services – the very same company you were working for when Layne passed.
When I worked at THS, it was a brand-new job. I had been there three weeks (with) my girlfriend (it was her first job out of high school). And THS had been in existence for over forty-some years now. They have seven locations. They do alcohol and drug addiction including heroin. They also have family programs for moms who are pregnant and are using, and for the addicts, their support system. All of the counseling includes a support system for those people who want to help. Most of their locations have heroin treatment. They do co-presenting, which means that if you have a drug addiction and something else going on, a mental health issue, or physical, they coordinate the service. So that is the whole approach. Oh, I feel so lucky. I got to know many people at THS in my short, well, I was there two years altogether. And I got to know the administrators and the Executive Director, and these are some of the finest people you could ever work with and they love everyone who comes there. They will do whatever they can to accommodate any kind of financial need, because people think, “Oh, I don’t have any money for treatment.” Well, if you don’t have personal money and you don’t have insurance and your company doesn’t have insurance for you now, there is Medicare, Medicaid and ACA, which is the Affordable Care Act. And there’s funding from the cities, counties, state and feds through grants that the facility applies for and uses on behalf of people who cannot pay for their own treatment in one way or another. So there’s – I mean there’s ten different ways that the treatments center will try to make treatment possible. And yes, it’s a revolving door proposal once in a while, and yeah, you might have to go back a few times. But stay as long you need and get the help that you need. And don’t give up on yourself because everybody has a clean and sober core.
But I am not involved at all in the (Layne Staley Memorial Fund) finances anymore. The only thing that I get involved in is if there’s a copyright issue. At the end of the Hungarian tribute, the Italian tribute, the Swiss tribute, the Bulgarian tribute, Seattle’s tribute and anyone else’s, it’s up to the coordinators to pay their expenses and then any money left over, goes to THS. And then if I find money on the street, it goes in an envelope. At the end of the year they get that along with any checks that people have sent to me, because sometimes a letter will include a donation check. But it should be made out to THS (Therapeutic Health Services). And I think people need to know about the website, because it really is a gift of love. One woman said, “I went to the website.” And she said “I thought it was really kind of weird”, and then she said “I realized how much you love us”. Layne-Staley.com. Please spell his name correctly, because he just hated it when people spelled his name wrong.
What made the Seattle scene so special?
Because you were all brothers. That’s what made this Seattle scene so unique. They weren’t competing. They weren’t undercutting one another. They cared about one another and they shared musicians and instruments and practice space, and it was a brotherhood. It was like Robin Hood’s band of Merry Men.
How were Layne & Mike Starr together?
They were funny together. They were a comedy team – the two of them. But you should talk to Gayle Starr about that. Because she had more experience with them sitting at the piano bench and you know, being silly.
People sometimes name their children after Layne.
We have Layne, Delayne, Elayna, Dalayna, Alice in Chains – that’s the cat. All these parents send me pictures of their babies that they’ve named for Layne. It’s really sweet. And they’re the cutest little kids. And sometimes they send me Christmas cards later. And they’re growing up. Now they’re four and then they’re ten, and it’s just precious. One little boy’s name is Layne Staley and then his family’s last name. It’s humbling. It’s very sweet.
Originally, your last name was Layne?
Yeah. It’s my maiden name. And my dad had three daughters. So when we had Layne, I thought that that’s kind of a cool first name and it carried the name another generation, Then Layne chose his middle name, Thomas, when he got a little bit older.
Thursday, 8/20/15, Fan Gathering at The Fountain
Seattle Center International Fountain, Seattle, WA 98109
Friday, 8/21/15, Layne Staley Tribute (Acoustic Night)
Jar Of Flies, Outshined, Poottana Play for Money
The Central, 207 1st Ave South, Seattle, WA 98104
Saturday, 8/22/15, Layne Staley Tribute
(Celebrating the lives and legacies of Layne Staley, Mike Starr, Kurt Cobain, Andrew Wood, and more.)
Jar Of Flies, Outshined, Poottana Play For Money
The Crocodile, 2200 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121
$20 Day Of Show
Tickets available at www.thecrocodile.com
Mad Season’s surviving members Mike McCready (Pearl Jam) and Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees) performed at the Croc in Seattle over the weekend with 89-year old blues legend CeDell Davis. The pair were also interviewed for a documentary film at the show, according to Barrett Martin’s Facebook page.
According to the event’s description, the show was filmed and recorded for a documentary film about how the music of the Mississippi Delta influenced Seattle rock and roll.
CeDell Davis, Delta Blues Legend
Peter Buck of REM
Mike McCready of Pearl Jam & Mad Season
Barrett Martin of Screaming Trees & Mad Season
Van Conner of Screaming Trees
Scott McCaughey of Minus 5
Evan Flory Barnes of Tuatara
Skerik of Tuatara
Ayron Jones of AJ & The Way
Greg & Zakk Binns
And other special guests
Davis has a distinctive sound that is the result of an unfortunate illness, according to John Bush’s AllMusic biography, “His right hand was crippled by polio at the age of ten, so he switched his guitar to a left-handed bottleneck style, which makes for a unique, atonal sound. He played locally throughout the 1950s and ’60s, with friends such as Robert Nighthawk, Big Joe Williams and Charlie Jordan.”
Watch videos of McCready and Martin performing with Davis below.
Veteran musician Barrett Martin recently gave an extensive interview to Classic Rock’s Paul Brannigan, discussing his long career in music and work with bands such as Tuatara, Screaming Trees, and Walking Papers.
In the interview, Martin discussed his recent work with Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, noting that the longtime friends had recently collaborated: “Well, Mike and I had been collaborating again, as we finished up the Mad Season box set. We had recorded some new Mad Season songs with Duff McKagan playing bass and 2 of the new songs have Jaz Coleman (of Killing Joke) writing the lyrics and singing.”
This summer, Martin revealed in an interview with Alternative Nation contributor Greg Prato that “[he and McCready] recorded another album of Mad Season songs last year.” Mad Season released an extensive reissue of their album Above in 2013 which included unreleased songs from the band’s unfinished second album with vocals from Mark Lanegan as well as unreleased live recordings.
The drummer also discussed the recording of Tuatara’s recent double albumUnderworld, stating that work was done on the album in New York, Santa Fe, Seattle, Portland, and Auckland. Martin: “Tuatara is definitely not a jam band, it is a composer’s band, with an experimental twist. I tend to think of us as a band that tells musical stories, without necessarily needing lyrics.”
“Wake up young man, it’s time to wake up,” the haunting voice of 26 year old Layne Staley breathes into a microphone, echoing into the void space between John “Baker” Saunders’ ominous bass line and Mike McCready’s flange-laden guitar composition– both flanked by the light hands of Barrett Martin’s slow and steady rhythm on the drums. The emotion in his voice, telling just as much of the story as the actual lyrics, cannot be learned or practiced, but is a beautiful human response achieved from a life burdened with arduous torment.
Eighteen years after it’s initial release on Columbia Records, Mad Season has re-released Above, the cult-classic album created by four friends who set out with a “desire to make a different kind of music,” while all the hype of the Seattle grunge scene was fizzling out in the mid 1990’s. At a time when great, original music has seen its better days, the remaining members of Mad Season reconvened last summer to go through the original tapes from their attempted sophomore album. Not wanting all of those songs to remain locked away forever, Martin and McCready chose a few of the best tracks from those old magnetic tapes and decided to honor their lost friends, Layne and Baker, with one last eulogy set to the sounds of, “one of the heaviest blues bands to come out of Seattle,” as Barrett Martin describes. They brought in Mark Lanegan, guest singer on the original 1995 release, as the expressive voice that would carry the band into the realm of that unfinished second album, honoring the departed members of the band with his touching, soulful lyrics and delivery.
Disc one contains the original Above album, remixed and reformatted, as well as five bonus tracks– four of them unheard until this year. The sound quality is absolutely top-notch. Brett Eliason, producer of the original Above record, really went above and beyond remastering the eighteen year old icon.
In Locomotive, Lanegan’s message is all too apparent- part one of his musical eulogy. It’s one-hundred percent evident that the instrumental composition came from a time capsule, hidden away since 1996. It’s raw and heavy and just– Mad Season.
Black Book Of Fear is a pretty, if not tearful number written by Saunders, McCready, Martin, and special guest, R.E.M.’s Peter Buck. Lanegan’s complimentary lyrics depict a somber story, but I’ll let you interpret it on your own. Isn’t that the fun of it?
Slip Away melds together the feelings of the previous two tracks in classic McCready fashion. The hollow minor chords push the song along, leading to a solo that paints the musical picture that McCready described in a recent interview, saying, you can just, “feel the pain.”
As a bonus, they tossed in their rendition of John Lennon’s I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier; a track that was recorded for the John Lennon tribute, Working Class Hero, in 1995. I’m glad they did because I had never heard this version before; I thought I was hearing a new Layne song! I’m actually glad that I hadn’t ever heard it until now– it was a nice little gift.
Disc two contains a perfect set from the band, recorded on April 29, 1995 at the Moore Theater in Seattle. The sound quality, again, is amazing. It’s almost as clean as the studio remaster, and is definitely high-quality for a live concert recording over fifteen years old.
The setlist/tracklist includes:
River Of Deceit
I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier
Long Gone Day
I Don’t Know Anything
The emotion that the boys (and 42 year old Baker) put into that show can really be felt in every song. McCready’s leads are electrifying to the point of actual face-melting (put on some SPF before you listen). What really adds to the already immense sound is the saxophone work from Seattle jazz musician, Skerik. I keep wanting to call him Shriek… The noises he produces on the saxophone are unbelievable. He goes from a standard jazz sax, to blissful shrieks that could be mistaken for the sound of an electric guitar, or even a Moog synth. Make sure to notice him on I don’t Wanna Be A Soldier, Long Gone Day, and most notably on November Hotel. The man goes OFF!
Layne’s voice is absolutely massive and soulful and beautiful all at the same time. No frills. No auto-tune. He fills the mic with blistering human emotion in every word. To hear it is bliss, but we get to see it, too.
The DVD on the third disc has been a “Long Gone Day” coming to say in the least. I’ve seen this footage plenty of times and even have it on my tablet, but the quality on those previous versions comes up way short. Thanks to the technologies of today, they were able to produce a high-definition quality video with clear, crisp audio. Aside from MTV’s Alice In Chains Unplugged and old Alice music videos, we’ve never had such a clear look at the singer doing what he does best. From only listening so much, people sometimes tend to forget that beautiful sound is coming directly out of the man himself. Being able to watch Layne sing on such a high-quality DVD is truly a gift.
The rest of the band is just as fun to watch. From seeing Martin totally losing himself on the drums, to McCready putting to use a double-necked Gibson SG (a la Jimmy Page), to Baker being the professional bluesman and comedian that he was– it’s definitely something that shouldn’t be taken for granted being able to watch.
The DVD contains plenty of footage from the concert at the Moore Theater. Seven songs are pro-shot and another handful recorded from, what I would assume is, a lower quality camera, maybe belonging to the band. Also included is footage from the entire concert they performed at RKCNDY in Seattle, on New Years Day, 1995, as well as their Self Pollution Radio video. The SPR video is another one I’ve seen several times, but having it on a DVD makes the audio/visual experience ten times better. The guys are really enjoying each other in this segment. Lastly, the DVD concludes with the one music video they made, for River Of Deceit.
Before I conclude, allow me to mention one more thing included in the contents of the box-set. Inside of the quad-fold, cardboard-stock packaging is a booklet featuring the song lyrics from Wake Up to November Hotel, to Lanegan’s newly published lyrics on the three bonus tracks. Of course, you’ll see the familiar credits, and thank you’s inside as well, but in the beginning of the booklet is a note from Barrett Martin– more like an essay, actually. I urge you all to read it. Read it twice– then read it again. He beautifully transcribes the story of the band from its adventurous beginning to its tragic end, and gives a heartfelt eulogy that touches upon John “Baker” Saunders, Layne Staley, and the band itself. If, when you read it, you aren’t fighting back the lump in your throat that precedes tears, you are either more a man than I, or have no heart at all. It was a very nice read and a perfect addition to the reissue.
Finally, I want to thank the guys of Mad Season for putting this out, and for Barrett Martin’s vivid recollection of his time with the band, and with Layne and Baker.
If it’s even necessary or allowed (with a reissue) I want to give this box set a score of 5 out of 5. It’s simply amazing… now go buy it!
Also, for you audiophiles, look for the double-vinyl release on RSD (Record Store Day), April 20th, which will include the contents of disc one of the “Above Deluxe” box-set. Reserve your copy today– I’m sure supplies are very limited. There are also t-shirts being sold at several online stores right now in case the album alone isn’t enough Mad Season for you.
Mad Season has released a new EPK for the upcoming Above deluxe reissue. In a statement from Barrett Martin, the drummer states that the official trailer includes a “combination of old interviews and a new one that [he and Mike McCready] just did in Seattle. The EPK also includes “great live footage of the band from 1994-95 with Layne and Mark.”
Watch the new trailer for Mad Season’s Abovehere. The Above reissue will be released April 2, 2013.
Mad Season recently released the new track “Locomotive” featuring Mark Lanegan, which will be included in the upcoming Above deluxe box set due April 2, 2013. Barrett Martin has now revealed new details about “Locomotive” and the upcoming box set in a Facebook post.
Martin says that he recorded the song “Locomotive” with Mike McCready and John Baker Saunders in 1996, while working on a potential second Mad Season record. Lanegan wrote lyrics and sang on three songs for the new box set, and these songs act as a tribute to both Layne Staley and John Baker Saunders. Martin states that “there is no other singer in the world but Mark who could have sung these songs in the way that Layne would have intended” and that Staley and Lanegan “understood each other better than anybody.” Peter Buck of R.E.M. also co-wrote and contributed guitar to one of the new tracks in 1996.
Martin also reveals that the original Above album has not been altered for the new box set, and that the new songs serve only as a tribute to their friends Staley and Saunders. An essay written by Martin about the “the healing power of music,” the production of Above, and the magical period of Mad Season will be included in a booklet in the box set.
Read the rest of Barrett Martin’s new Facebook post here.
Barrett Martin recently revealed that “Locomotive” featuring Mark Lanegan, the first single from Mad Season’s upcoming ‘Above’ box set, will be released soon. Now, Amazon.com has uploaded previews of all songs from Mad Season’s new box set, including the tracks featuring Mark Lanegan and audio tracks from Mad Season’s 1995 concert at the Moore Theatre in Seattle.
You can preview the new tracks from Mad Season’s ‘Above’ reissue here.
Thanks to an anonymous GrungeReport.net reader for the tip.
Barrett Martin has revealed news in a recent Facebook post regarding new Mad Season, new Mark Lanegan, and more. Martin first revealed that he recently recorded a Jimi Hendrix song with Mike McCready, recorded by Jimi Hendrix/Led Zeppelin producer Eddie Kramer. Secondly, he revealed that he “got to play on the new Mark Lanegan album” but did not specify whether this new album was Mark Lanegan’s upcoming collaboration with Duke Garwood or a rumored new solo album by Lanegan.
Next, Martin mentioned that he is currently working on an instrumental soundscape album with Mike McCready, and that McCready also played on the new Walking Papers album, which was recorded last September.
Lastly, Martin mentioned that he and McCready are preparing the release of the Mad Season box set for April 2nd, 2013. Martin revealed that the first single “Locomotive,” featuring Mark Lanegan, will be released to the radio soon. A link will be posted by Martin when the song goes streaming live.
Two exclusive grunge releases for Record Store Day’s Black Friday (November 23):
Mad Season – “River of Deceit / I Don’t Know Anything (Live)”
Format: 10” Vinyl
More Info: Limited Edition 10”, colored vinyl single from Mad Season, an American rock supergroup formed in Seattle, Washington in 1994 by members of three popular Seattle-based bands: Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and Screaming Trees (Barrett Martin, Mike McCready, John Baker Saunders and Layne Staley). Mad Season released only one album, Above, and is best known for the single “River of Deceit”.
Nirvana – 20th Anniversary Edition of Incesticide 45 RPM Edition
Format: 12” Vinyl
More Info: Recompiled and remastered from the original analog master tape and recording sources by Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering Studios, Hollywood. This limited edition audiophile edition of Incesticide was pressed by Analogue Productions on two 180-gram virgin vinyl discs and cut at 45 RPM vinyl for superior audio quality to past 33 1/3 RPM reissues. The faithful recreation of the jacket designed by Kurt Cobain includes the lyric sheet art and for the first time comes housed in a deluxe gatefold sleeve. Gold-foiled stamped and individually numbered.