an interview with Grunge icon Gary Lee Conner (Screaming Trees)

an interview with  Grunge icon Gary Lee Conner (Screaming Trees)
Welcome to Music Festival.gr. Your musical journey and trajectory is simply great. What s the story behind the demise of the Screaming Trees, everyone thought that Dust will open new roads for the band, what really happened?


After Dust we decided to get off Epic and get new managers. We had been working with Q Prime who did bands like Metallica but we're never really in touch with what we were about. Epic let us go and we spent three years on and off doing demos, looking for a new label and playing some shows here and there. Also we were living apart from each other all over the country and substance abuse problems were not helping either. The atmosphere of the music industry and scene had changed so much by 96 and 97 that we found ourvseleves without the industry support we wanted to continue. I just posted an article about the demise alternative rock in 96 on my FB page which is quite insightful. By the time of our last show at the opening of the EMP in Seattle nothing was really happening with us. I was living in NY, Mark in LA and getting together was always a logistical and monetary hastle. Mark was moving on in his solo career and Van and I had families so it just seemed like it wasn't productive to go on especially without a record label to support us.


ARTICLE ABOUT DEMISE OF ALT MUSIC IN 1996


 

Name your 10 bands and singers.

I have so many ten is hard to stick to but here's some of my top favs. I love rock music from all different periods but my first love has always been 60s psychedelia. I could easily name ten favorite s from each decade.

Love

13th Floor Elevators

Seeds

The Move

The Beatles

MC5

Stooges

The Wipers

Nirvana

King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard



Others

Pretty Things

Yes

The Damned

X

Mudhoney

Plasticland

Love Battery

Jefferson Airplane

Pink Floyrd (Syd Barrett era)

Small Faces

Guided by Voices

Singers

Mark Lanegan

David Bowie

Iggy Pop

Layne Staley

Steve Marriot

Grace Slick

Roky Erckson

Kurt Cobain

Neil Young

Exene

What is your fave music era and the favourite albums so far?

60s psychedelia is my biggest influence and favorite over all.

Pebbles Collection (us garage psych)

Rubble Collection (UK garage psych)

Pretty Things-SF Sorrow

Pink Floyd-Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Beatles- Magical Mystery Tour (US Ed)

Blue Cheer-OutsideInside

Seeds-Web of Sound

Love -Forever Changes

13th Floor Elevators-Easter Everywhere

Jefferson Airplane-Surrealistic Plillow

Jefferson Airplane-After Bathing At

Baxters

Jefferson Airplane-Crown of Creation

The Move-first album

Jimi Hendrix- Axis Bold as Love

Jimi Hendrix-Electric LadyvLand

Country Joe & the Fish-Electric Music..

And so on and on...



Tell us about your latest solo work?

My first solo album was in 1990,called the Purple Outside ' Mystery Lane' it had a lot of songs the Trees had recorded but scrapped being in the more psychedelic vein. Since I was the main songwriter for the Screaming Trees I didn't do many other solo works in the 90s. The only other being the Sub Pop singles club 45 of Grasshoppers Daydream which featured Josh Homme on guitar , Mark Pickerel on Drums and my brother Patrick on Bass. After the band I continued writing songs but did not publically release anything again till the early 2010s. By that time technology had caught up with me and I was able to record album quality released and put them out on the internet. Going back to my love of psychedelic music my first release was the Micridot Gnome album, the first version was reakesed in 2010, under the title 4D Sugarcubes. then the final version now on Bandcamp was put out in 2014. It is now out on cassette through solid 7 Records and a vinyl version may be in the works. Two years later I put out the the album Ether Trippers on my brother Van's label Strange Earth Records. It was not only available digitally but also on vinyl an CD. Last fall I put out my latest release Unicorn Curry on Bandcamp, in early 2019 it was also rekeased on Vinyl by thevaItalian company Vincebus Eruptum Records and on CD by Forbdiden place records as well as cassette by Solid 7 Records.

I am now working on a new album tentatively tittled "Revelations In Fuzz"

Which I hope to finish in the next few months. So far it seems like it will be leaning a bit more towards garage rock but we shall see.

Which should be your advices for the new musicians?

Have fun with your music, when it becomes just a job that's when you get lost.

Who were your childhood heroes?

I loved the writing of Arthur C Clarke by the time I was in JR High, at the same time I started listening to the Beatles, those always been the two things I love most Science Fiction and Rock Music.


 

Any cool new bands you want to mention..What are you listen to lately?

A lot of people say rock music is dead. I realized a few months ago that I was only listening to old stuff and set out on a quest to find great music from the last 10 to 20 years when I got lazy and stopped trying to find new stuff. I think there is more music out there than ever before because of the internet. There's just so much it's hard to find the really great stuff but it's there. Keep looking and listening and you'll find stuff you like. You Tube and Bandcamp are two of the best sources. Go straight to the bands skip the labels if you can.



Newer Stuff I Like (21st century rock)

King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard

Oh Sees

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets

The Kundalini Genie

The Black Angels

Baby Woodrose

Dead Meadow

Brian Jonestown Massacre

( been around a while)

The New Candys

The Babe Rainbow

Karovas Milkshake

Fuzz

Ty Segall

And more...

I try to find new stuff almost every day now, no more musical stagnation for me!


What do you think of the demise of the legendary Chris Cornell?

Very sad, one by one we've lost all our compatriots to untimely ends. I hope to make it to my 70s or 80s and keep doing music. I don't know why it happens but drugs have been a big part of it. Don't know with Chris however, suicide is often unexplainable. I am amazed and very happy that Mark Lanegan is still around and doing well because in the late 90s he seemed to be going down the path to destruction.


Which are the things that made you proud through your music career?

Being on SST records I think is the biggest thing. Those records have flaws but I still love them and the songs on them. I have recently been doing live acoustic versions of Screaming Trees songs on You Tube and Facebook. I am very proud of the Epic Record as well because we got to make timeless rock albums in some of the same ways as our rock heros from the past. Mainly it is just really cool to have been a real band with a legacy that people will remember as part of rock history. That seemed like an impossible dream when we first started.

Sweet oblivion or Dust?

I like them both but for different reasons. Dust was was the most difficult album to write songs for it was mostly done separated from each other, even though we were all in Seattle mostly. Whereas Sweet Oblivion was a very collabaratory effort writing wise we all spent a lot of time together. I am most proud of the production on Dust being like that of a classic rock album we always wanted to make thanks to our producer George Drakoulias.

I have heard a story one that you were jamming unplugged in a Greek island is it true?

Never heard that, I have never been to Greece yet, maybe it was Lanegan.


Vinyl Cd or Pc?

I like vinyl because it gives physical form to the music which is totally lacking digitally. However I mostly lazy and listen to stuff on the computer.


Tell us stories from the road and the bands you liked the most sharing the stage with. Was the tour with Alice in Chains the most dangerous of them all? What kind of person was Layne Staley..

We played with so many bands over the years , we became good friends with many of them like Mudhoney and Love Battery. Touring with Alice in Chains was only dangerous in the sense of drugs being around. I was usually the most sober person in either group do so at times it was a bit disconcerting. Layne always seemed like a very nice likeable guy. When we were on tour in 92 we all stopped by my girlfriend's house ( now my wife Janet) and I made Thanksgiving dinner for Layne and the Trees. By the time we got to Europe with them shows were getting canceled because of Layne and things were getting more tense in their camp.


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