Mad Season Member Reveals Why Layne Staley ‘Was Unable’ To Record Second Album In 1997


Mad Season drummer Barrett Martin discussed what the band did with their scheduled recording time in 1997 when they learned that Layne Staley would not return for a second album.

“After the Screaming Trees finished touring on the Dust album, Mad Season attempted to record a second album, but because of his declining health, Layne Staley was unable to attend the sessions. We ended up with a lot of studio time that was not being used, so we divided it up amongst the band members.

I used my two weeks of studio time to start a new band with Peter Buck of the band R.E.M., Justin Harwood of the band Luna, and the mighty Skerik on saxophone, who had just played on that first Mad Season album. Tuatara went on to make 7 studio albums over the next 20 years, but that first album we recorded during the canceled Mad Season session had a really magical quality to it.”

Martin released an excerpt from his book The Singing Earth discussing Mad Season on his Facebook page a couple of months ago.

“It was 1994, and Mike and Baker had just gotten out of a rehab facility in Minneapolis, where they had become fast friends with their love of the blues and the bright clarity that comes from a newly sober mind. Layne and I had toured with our regular bands the previous year, playing shows around the world together. But we were exhausted from the grind of the road and I think all four of us were looking for a different kind of musical expression. We convened in the fall of 1994 to write a few songs and see where it all might lead. During those first kinetic rehearsals, we talked as friends about our previous job skills before rock and roll had changed our lives so dramatically.

Layne and I had both been carpenters in Seattle, pouring concrete foundations, framing houses, and generally working as laborers until the touring life had taken over. Mike had worked at a Seattle pizzeria before he found his overnight success with Pearl Jam, and as they say, overnight success takes about 10 years of hard work before it magically happens ‘overnight.’ Baker, although a working bassist in the Chicago and Minneapolis blues scenes, had frequently worked odd jobs to earn a living, because economic times were tough for any musician in the 1980s and ’90s. It meant that you had do a little of this and a little of that to get by. It’s really not much different today.

Whatever our past jobs and bands might have been, Mad Season were now focused on making our own album, and after several highly productive rehearsals we played a series of secret shows at Seattle’s now legendary Crocodile Café. The intent was to tighten up the songs and try out the new material on a live audience, and during these shows we realized a singular, musical vision that would manifest in the studio a few weeks later.”