Wikipedia defines screamo as being "...a musical genre which evolved from emo, post-hardcore, more specifically hardcore emo in the early 1990s. Characteristic of the genre are hardcore screaming vocals and harmonized guitars.... In California in the early 1990s, Gravity Records from San Diego released many defining records of this style."
Troy Davis agrees that screamo had its beginnings in San Diego. When he was booking tours for Three Mile Pilot in the early '90s, he needed a band for three shows in Northern California. Davis realized that locally based Far were from Sacramento, so he contacted them and went on to manage the band during the early part of their career (from 1992 until early 1996). Davis considers Far's 1996 major-label debut, Tin Cans with Strings to You, to be the first screamo record.
"Plus, what screamo band doesn't have ballads?" Davis inquires as we listen to the final song from Tin Cans, the ballad "Sorrow's End."
How does the early version of the genre compare with today's brand of screamo?
"Every song wasn't structured exactly the same," says Davis. "Far was more influenced by grunge bands such as Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins, but what differentiated Far from most of those bands was lead singer Jonah's screaming....
"The screamo scene has basically turned into the hair metal scene from the '80s. The kids look the same, the bands sound the same; it's the same way that Slaughter and Skid Row were marketed. It will go away as quickly as the hair-band stuff. The music is very timely and doesn't have much lasting potential."