Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Life Saved | An interview with Mark Lanegan

With a little shy of 15 official releases under your belt and a never-ending list of collaborations and guest appearances on other’s albums, you’re no stranger to hard work and your passion for music is certainly undeniable. What is it about creating music that keeps you going and continues to inspire and motivate you to keep creating?

I really feel like music saved my life when I was a kid and I fell into making music as a result of being a huge fan of other people's tunes. Once I learned I could do it myself I've never wanted to stop and It's given me a life beyond my wildest expectations.

 Like life and ourselves your music too has evolved over time. From the more stripped instrumentally stripped down The Winding Sheet or Whiskey for the Holy Ghost to your latest release Gargoyle which is undoubtable comparable to an onion being peeled layer upon layer to reveal even more layers. Like most of your later albums - Gargoyle is musically vibrant and rich. Instrumentally, what inspired Gargoyle and how did it come together? Chicken or the egg, or the music or the lyrics shall we say? 

Half of the music for gargoyle was written by Rob Marshall in the U.K. and sent to me via email, so for those, singing parts and lyrics came secondary. The songs I wrote myself I started with guitar or keyboard with words and music developing together.

Whilst Gargoyle is booming with sound the poetry is as ever present as ever. The lyrical theme of broody folk tales, demons and redemption of the sombre and forlorn winds itself around the whimsical guitar sounds and bustling drums. But dare I say it (though I’ve mentioned this ever so briefly to you before) this may in fact be the most “positive” album of yours to date. What do you think prompted the musical evolution on this album toward a sunnier Mr Lanegan? 

Not really sure why some of these tunes have a more positive seeming bent.... whenever I'm writing words to someone else's music I always do what feels instinctively correct and let the chips fall where they will.

Notably, you are no stranger to collaborations and fans can look forward to some guest appearances on Gargoyle from Josh Homme to Greg Dulli. Can you tell us a little about the line up on this record and how it came together?

Most of the music on this record was recorded by Rob Marshall and Alain Johannes. After that, I had some of my friends come in and add their magic. I always love singing with Josh and Greg and Duke Garwood always makes the tracks he's on better. I've also been lucky to have Martyn LeNoble and Jack Irons as my rhythm section on my past several records and they are the best.

A few months ago I was in the office and heard an electro track in the background then a familiar darkened baritone belted above the beat. Of course I’m talking about the Andrew Weatherall remix of Nocturne which was soon followed by his remix of Beehive.  For the typical Lanegan fan it might cause a quiet moment of shock. I guess it’s hard to imagine Mark Lanegan in a rave waving his arms around but god forbid we deny the dance scene the talent of Mark Lanegan. You’ve collaborated with electronic artists in the past and had a remix album and I believe a Gargoyle remix album is due to come out soon as well. Can you explain your relationship with dance/electro music and will we ever spy Mark Lanegan dressed in black raving in a corner at a dance festival? Or is your love for electronic music something strictly saved for dancing in the kitchen? 

Ha yes, strictly for the kitchen but I have enjoyed listening to electronic/dance/industrial music for most of my life. When I was really young I fell in love with Kraftwerk and then later with Coil, Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV and New Order amongst others. 

I have a few personal faves on the new album, namely Goodbye to Beauty and First Day of Winter. There’s a real soft beauty to these tracks. Do you have a personal favourite on the album? 

I think Nocturne, Emperor and First Day Of Winter are my favourites.

 It’s been 27 years since your first solo album. That’s gotta blow your mind. Did you think after finishing up The Winding Sheet you’d be here at 52 still making music? What would today’s Mark Lanegan say to a then 25-year-old Mark Lanegan now with the benefit of hindsight? 

Every step of the way I've been surprised that anyone would enjoy what I'm doing and I always feel blessed at every opportunity to continue making music. I would tell the 25 year old me to be nicer to myself and other people.

 We are of course familiar with your male/female collaboration dichotomy over the years. Are there any female artists you would love to collaborate with and haven’t yet had the chance? 

I love the music of Chan Marshall and Lana Del Rey and would be psyched to sing with them. In my wildest dreams I would love to sing with Siouxsie.

You’re embarking on a European/UK tour later in the year to follow up Gargoyle. What can fans expect? 

Hopefully they can expect a good show with songs they wanna hear.