Back in 1995 when grunge was arguably at its height, a Seattle supergroup dropped its first — and what would turn out to be their only — album.
Though it consisted of 75 percent scene luminaries (Alice in Chains vocalist Layne Staley, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, and Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin), Mad Season were actually more of a next-generation blues band.
That album, Above, went gold on the back of the single “River of Deceit,” and was vital to the development of the four musicians in the group (bassist John Baker Saunders rounded out the lineup), all of whom had struggled with substance abuse but managed to clean themselves up. “There was a spiritual elevation that we all felt when we played together,” Martin tells EW. “Part of that was because we were all sober at the time. There was a real heightened awareness in that band. Everything seemed to awaken within us when we played together.”
The group only played a handful of shows, and though they began work on their second album in 1996, Above was Mad Season’s only album. (Saunders passed away in 1999; Staley passed in 2002.) But a handful of recordings from those second sessions have made it onto Above: Deluxe Edition, the new multi-disc package celebrating one of the great all-star acts of the alt-rock ’90s. In addition to a handful of previously unreleased bonus tracks, with vocals provided by Mark Lanegan in place of the late Staley, there is also a live recording of a legendary live performance in Seattle from 1995, as well as a DVD featuring video footage of that show plus a handful of other thrilling live moments.
Martin, who worked with McCready and original Above producer Brett Eliason on the reissue (and also wrote the extensive liner notes), talked to EW about the band’s origins, its legacy, and its unusual chemistry.
Entertainment Weekly: How did Mad Season first come together in 1994?
Barrett Martin: Mike called me and said he wanted to do a side project with this bass player that he had met when he was in rehab, and I said absolutely. READ FULL STORY