dB Magazine Interview of Mark Lanegan 20-Oct-04 show from the #344 Issue (Nov 10 - 16)


Mark Lanegan can be a hard man to track down, but after three unsuccessful attempts we finally connected. He of the whisky-soaked voice - and a quietly impressive career that includes major time spent with The Screaming Trees and more recently, Queens Of The Stone Age - was in a talkative mood about his upcoming solo tour of Australia as he gave directions to his chauffeur (very rock!).

"I love Australia," he growls. "I love being there but hate going there because of the flight. There is no land, I just keep seeing water, thousands of miles from anything. Last time it was 14 hours of sheer terror, so I tried to knock myself out."

For his upcoming tour, Lanegan put together The Mark Lanegan Band, somewhat of a 'who's who' of players he'd worked with over the past few years. This new record also sees a slight change of name from the previous five albums, simply recorded under the name of Mark Lanegan.

"The people in my band are guys who have been touring with me for a while. They played a little bit on this record as well. Two reasons for the name change: I was no longer playing with the guys who had predominantly been on the earlier records, and I wanted to make a distinction between those records and whatever came next. But also I started making the records as a reaction against the rock band [The Screaming Trees] I was in at the time. So I wanted to make quiet music as well and it happened that both things satisfied me.

"And now that I'm not in a rock band full time, I wanted to bring those elements into this and make this record more representative of all the different things that I like to do musically; to see if I could make a rock song co-exist next to a fucking atmospheric quiet song, and that's what I set out to do. And I made the name change to try and trick my mind into saying that that was OK."

Having said that, somewhat paradoxically Lanegan took a very organic approach to the album's running order. "To me the sequencing is the most important thing on the record and that's always been pretty much the thing I was most passionate about. I did it throughout The Screaming Trees and for other bands and records, and it's not always easy, especially if you have stuff that is all over the map. They [the songs] sort of tell me where they are supposed to go, and it's not that tough. I mean, it tells a story, and it might be vague and it might be murky and mysterious to somebody, even to me! But it does tell a story and there is a thread from start to finish, as there is in all my records. And in fact I think of all of them as a whole entity. In other words, I think of the first record as the beginning of this one. So they are all interlinked in my mind.

"I always have a gang of ideas, and half-finished songs and fully finished songs, and songs I have already recorded but haven't used floating around. And when I start to make another record, or start to think about it, I start looking at that stuff and I start messing with it every day that I can, and usually this is when I'm on the road as opposed to being at home. When I'm at home I'm kind of lazy, when I'm on the road I try and write every day. And what I do is just get up and mess with something and then check it out again tomorrow and then the stuff that makes it past a couple of days is the stuff I stay with. It's just a huge jumble of mess that turns into individual songs that go in a natural order. And then of course there are the songs that end up being recorded at the last minute while you are in the studio, trying to mix, one will come up and bang! You'll knock it out. Sometimes those are the best songs, the most important songs usually being the very last thing you record - and they're the after-thought!"

Julie Richards