Mad Season was an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington in 1994 by members of three popular Seattle-based bands: Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and Screaming Trees. Mad Season only released one album, Above, and is best known for the single "River of Deceit".
During the production of Pearl Jam's Vitalogy, guitarist Mike McCready eventually went into rehab in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he met bassist John Baker Saunders. When the two returned to Seattle, Washington they formed a side band in 1994 with drummer Barrett Martin. All three have 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" (sample (help·info)), both of which would later appear on the band's album Above. McCready then brought in friend and Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley to round out the line-up.
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. 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 itself the Gacy Bunch, after both the notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy of Chicago and the 1970s sitcom The Brady Bunch. On January 8, 1995, the band made an appearance on Pearl Jam's Self-Pollution satellite radio broadcast, performing "Lifeless Dead" and "I Don't Know Anything". After gaining more popularity, the band recorded its only album and changed its 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, Washington 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 ten songs. It also included guest vocals by Screaming Trees frontman and solo artist Mark Lanegan. The album was released on March 15, 1995 through 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, 1995.
The band continued to play shows during the spring of 1995 before going on hiatus so that the members could return to work with their main bands. During this time the band released the Live at the Moore 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 1995 John Lennon tribute album, 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 its 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 (especially 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 a new side project, The Rockfords. Martin briefly returned to work with Screaming Trees before the band disbanded in 2000. Since then Martin has worked as an 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 Queens of the Stone Age.