Interview with Greg Prato – Lanegan – Part 2
by Killian Laher
No More Workhorse caught up with Greg Prato to discuss his new book about Mark Lanegan. This is Part 2 of our recent interview…
NMW: As well as being a bit harsh on Gary Lee Conner in the book, Mark Lanegan was pretty dismissive of Screaming Trees in general?
GP: Listening back to the Screaming Trees stuff, I could maybe see his point that in the 80s they were still working on creating their sound, but a lot of those albums are still good and it’s not like any of their albums are horrible. There are at least a few songs on every album that are good. In the 90s was when the Screaming Trees really came into their own because I think Sweet Oblivion and Dust are phenomenal albums that are pretty much front-to-back fantastic.
NMW: Which of Mark Lanegan’s solo albums stand out to you?
GP: I love Winding Sheet, but probably my two favourites are probably Whiskey For The Holy Ghost and also Bubblegum. Those two albums in particular should have been huge, but you could also say that of the Screaming Trees. Sweet Oblivion was their most popular one, but it should have been a lot more popular. And Dust, listening back to it now, when that came out that was not properly promoted. They were on Epic at the time and Epic did such a shitty job of promoting it. What makes no sense too, is the Screaming Trees were with Metallica’s management at that point, so you’d think that they would have had a lot of muscle to promote Screaming Trees properly, but they just didn’t. So that was a complete flub, a complete misfire on those two.
But Whiskey For The Holy Ghost, the lyrics are fantastic, the vocals are fantastic, the stripped down rootsy type sound is fantastic. That said, Bubblegum is to me a throwback. It’s almost like Joy Division meets the first two Iggy Pop solo albums, a late night smoky bar vibe. I would go with those three Mark Lanegan solo albums and I also love the last two Screaming Trees albums as well.
NMW: How are things with you otherwise? Are you working on any more books?
GP: Things are going pretty good. In 2009 I put out a book called Grunge Is Dead. For that book, I interviewed Mark Pickerel and also Van Conner, who sadly recently passed away. But there’s also a lot of Screaming Trees info in that as well. I realised about a year ago that when I did that book, I had to cut a lot out of that book to meet a strict word count. A year ago I thought: I wonder how much is left over, I wonder if any of those quotes are worthwhile? So I went back. It turns out I have pretty much a whole entire second book! I’m going to be putting it out in a few months. It’s going to be the outtakes of that book, it’s all new quotes. There’s a lot of really cool info that I forgot about that’s going to be in that book.
Later this year I’m going to be putting out a compilation. It’s going to be called something like 50 Rock Lists. I’ve been a writer for so long, I’ve done all these lists over the years where I interview people and they tell me, their top ten favourite albums. But I’ve also compiled lists for websites. So I’m going to put all those lists together in a single book later this year. I’m also thinking of doing kindle-only books. I read that recent Rolling Stone article, Top 100 Heavy Metal Songs of All Time, which got me thinking. I didn’t agree with half the selections. It seems like with all those things, I never agree with the selections! I think I’m going to start doing a series, Greg Prato Presents… Greatest Metal Songs, 100 Greatest Punk Songs, Grunge Songs. I may just do that.
NMW: Do you still enjoy it?
My next book is going to be my 40th book, and my wife said that when I put out my 40th book, she’s going to take me out to dinner. So I’m definitely looking forward to that! I’m so lucky that I have a job that I just love so much. Some people say, oh, you’re so lucky, you get to work from home and all this stuff. But that said, I’m working seven days a week and I work all hours of the day, I’m sometimes working late at night. I’ve been known to, sometimes if I wake up in the middle of the night and I can’t go back to sleep, I’ll pick up my phone and I’ll start typing on my phone, just doing edits or adding stuff to things I’m working on. I’ll have to do it very quietly so I don’t wake up my wife!
But I’m definitely blessed, that I just love doing what I do and getting to speak to a lot of my favourite artists.
Greg Prato’s book, titled Lanegan, is available from Amazon.
The interview has been edited for clarity.
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