Hometown: Seattle, WA
From the wild and wooly and weird Pacific Northwest, Mark Pickerel has quite the back story. He was the drummer in seminal grunge faves The Screaming Trees, and has played on albums by Mark Lanegan, Brandi Carlile, and some band from Aberdeen named ... er ... um ... Nirvana or something like that. He's toured with Neko Case and contributed to her track on the Hard-Headed Woman: A Celebration of Wanda Jackson compilation. He even owned the most culturally and musically diverse record store in Eastern Washington. Independent retail, now THAT'S a character builder. Now he's moved from behind the kit and, with his band The Praying Hands, is ready to start the next chapter in his musical life.
"Whoa Nelly," you're saying to yourself, "a drummer becoming a front man? Is that such a good idea?" Sure, the track record ain't good; Don Henley, Dave Grohl, Mickey Dolenz, Phil Collins, RINGO STARR. That Peter Criss shit was pretty bad too, the ironic value of "Beth" notwithstanding. It's a serious stigma to overcome.
Mark's got the goods, though. He was born to be in front. With his rakish good looks and his tendency to spend more than $3 on haircuts, he has already endeared himself to the ladies of the office. His voice, alluring and just a little bit sinister, evinces his influences ranging from Leonard Cohen, Lee Hazlewood, the Gun Club, the Stranglers and Nick Cave. Running that record store all those years sure did its damage...
"Pickerel has a reassuring, deadpan voice (arguably the missing link between M. Ward and Nick Cave)." —Portland Mercury
"Pickerel's vocals carry a Chris Isaak/Lee Hazelwood bottom end to them, or perhaps it would be safer to say he sounds like Roy Orbison on sedatives. The songs swing like all classic country should, but what separates Pickerel from someone like Wayne Hancock is the surreal, almost psychedelic haze he paints his songs with. It's Americana, for sure, but via David Lynch. If Blue Velvet were set in a Bakersville dance hall, it would sound like this." —Seattle Weekly
"Sing[s] with the gloomy conviction of a man holding a bottle in one hand and pistol in the other." —Mojo
"Pickerel's dark, haunting voice—as intoxicating and blue as a tumbler of absinthe—is impossible to forget." —Stomp and Stammer