In this month’s SPIN, David Marchese has a fun little nugget of a story about Susan Carr, a long-time Seattle-based vocal instructor who has turned the pig-squeal into a cirriculum of sorts.
Carr started teaching punk rockers how to scream properly in the early 80s, but her business blew up when the grunge era hit — labels and managers sent her their precious artists as a way of protecting them as “investments.” Her students back then included Alice in Chain’s Layne Staley, and my beloved Sunny Day Real Estate’s Jeremy Enigk, who Carr called “a beautiful screamer.” That he is! But what about the burly beef-jerky heads? They might be worried about what learning how to bellow into a mic from a lady-person would mean for their delicate reputations, after all.
And unlike actual schooling, studying screaming doesn’t carry any nerdy stigma. "Back in the punk days, taking voice lessons might have seemed lame," says Minus the Bear’s Jake Snider, a former student of Carr’s. "But I was sick of losing my voice. Now I never do." Mastodon’s Troy Sanders was also eager to learn. "Singing 250 shows a year is brutal. I wanted any help I could get, he says, before happily adding, "Warner Bros. paid for the lessons."
It’s so nice when the important people in suits buy you things! Carr has a new DVD out called The Art of Screaming — if you click on that link, make sure your speakers are turned down low, worker bees! And there are some really earnest endorsements from her recently graduated students in the embedded YouTube video. Just picture this sweet-faced woman going Cookie Monster postal with the guy from Killing Roots.