Mad Season was formed in 1994 by the trio
of Mike McCready (guitar), Barrett Martin (drums) and John Baker
Saunders (bass). All three had long been a part of the Seattle
music community with McCready playing in such bands as Pearl
Jam and Temple of the Dog, Martin with Skin Yard and the Screaming
Trees and Saunders with The Walkabouts as well as blues talents
such as Little Pat Rushing, Hubert Sumlin, Sammy Fender, and
the Lamont Cranston Band.
Immediately the trio set up rehearsal time
together and wrote two songs, "Wake Up" and "River
of Deceit", both of which would later appear on their album
Above. McCready then brought in friend and Alice in Chains frontman
Layne Staley to round out the lineup.
Despite not having a single song completely
prepared (only beginnings of songs, according to Martin) and
not even having a name for the band, McCready scheduled an unannounced
show at the Crocodile Cafe in October 1994, which turned out
to be a big success. In fact, the song "Artificial Red",
which was also to appear on the album, actually came together
during the show itself.
Two more gigs were scheduled at the same
venue, with the band calling themselves the Gacy Bunch, after
both the notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy of Chicago
and a sitcom from the 1970s called The Brady Bunch.
On January 8 of 1995, the band made an appearance
on Pearl Jam's Self-Pollution Radio worldwide broadcast, performing
"Lifeless Dead" and "I Don't Know Anything".
After gaining more popularity, the band recorded
their only album and changed their name to Mad Season, which
is an English term for the time of the year when psilocybin
mushrooms are in full bloom.
The album, Above, which was recorded in Seattle
at Bad Animals Studio (co-owned by Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart)
and co-produced by the band and Pearl Jam sound engineer Brett
Eliason, featured 10 songs. It also included guest vocals by
Screaming Trees frontman and solo artist Mark Lanegan. The album
was released on March 15, 1995 on Columbia Records to critical
and commercial success. Over the course of 1995, Above scaled
the Billboard 200 eventually peaking at #24, furthermore spawning
two singles: "River of Deceit" (#2 Mainstream Rock
Tracks, #9 Modern Rock Tracks) and "I Don't Know Anything"
(#20 Mainstream Rock Tracks). Above was certified gold on June
14 of that year.
The band continued to play shows during the
Spring of '95 before going on hiatus to return to work with
their main bands. During this time the band released the 'Live
At The Moore Theatre' video which was a live performance recorded
at Seattle's Moore Theatre on April 29, 1995. Also during this
time the band contributed a cover of John Lennon's "I Don't
Wanna Be A Soldier" to the John Lennon tribute compilation
Working Class Hero.
In 1996 a live version of "River Of
Deceit" surfaced on the Bite Back: Live At Crocodile Cafe
compilation although by this time Mad Season had long been dormant
from live work.
In 1997 attempts were made by McCready, Saunders
and Martin to revive Mad Season although by this point Staley's
health had worsened due to severe drug addiction. As a result
he declined to participate in the project any further thus leaving
Mad Season without a singer.
With Staley now out of the picture, the band
recruited vocalist Mark Lanegan (of the Screaming Trees) who
had previously guested on the Above album (as well as at live
shows) as their new permanent singer. With the switch in frontman
the group also switched names adopting the 'Disinformation'
moniker in late 1997.
Work reportedly began in 1998 on what would
have been Disinformation's debut album although between everyone's
busy schedules studio time was hard to come by. Over the course
of the year the quartet gradually grew apart making a 'Disinformation'
album all the more unlikely. Another critical blow was dealt
to the project in January 1999 with the death of bassist John
Baker Saunders (from an overdose of heroin). The group (esp.
Saunders' long-time friend Mike McCready) were deeply saddened
to hear news of his death.
Although no official announcement was ever
given, it is widely accepted that Mad Season/Disinformation
broke up following Saunders' death.
Following Saunders' death, McCready returned to work with Pearl
Jam and also later formed new side project The Rockfords. Martin
briefly returned to work with Screaming Trees before they too
disbanded in 2000. Since then Martin has worked as occasional
touring drummer for R.E.M. and performs with R.E.M guitarist
Peter Buck in the band Tuatara. Staley briefly reunited with
Alice in Chains in the late nineties before dropping out of
the public eye permanently. His body was later found on April
19, 2002 in his condominium, the victim of an apparent overdose
of cocaine and heroin. Lanegan has gone on to a relatively successful
solo career and has also worked with stoner rock icons Queens
of the Stone Age.