Musikexpress Magazine
August 2004

The Wolf Is Freed
by Dirk Bendig

He might have become a professional sportsman but whom was given such a voice by god doesn't have an alternative to becoming a singer. With nearly 40 years Mark Lanegan feels fit enough for a restart in every sense.

A hugely relaxed Mark Lanegan sits in the restaurant of the Hotel Atlantic in Hamburg. He even manages to convey the impression that he likes to give interviews although he actually should have been on tour with MC5 at this particular time.

"Well, of course I would prefer to be on stage with MC5 right now" he admits, " You don't get the chance to perform with one of the greatest bands ever very often. But I left QOTSA to concentrate on Bubblegum so it would have been highly! inconsequent and contradictory to follow Mc5's allurement" the chainsmoker who is cured from drugs as far as possible says while lighting his first unfiltered camel cigarette.

With six months delay and three years after the good but not completely persuading Field Songs the ex Screaming Trees singer brings his fans with Bubblegum the most intensive record of his solo career. And this is considering such emotional rollercoasters like WFTHG or I'll Tke Care Of You a bold statement by all means. But the pale man avoids comparisons with the past and that's why he doesn't release his albums any longer as Mark Lanegan but under the name Mark Lanegan Band.

"The new name ought to mark a divide between the prior albums and the new songs. The prior albums were as much Mike's work as mine."

Mike is his longtime co-worker Mike Johnson (Ex-Dinosaur Jr.), who isn't any longer involved due to solo projects. He only contributes to Bubblegum by pla! ying the lead guitar on the song "Hit the City".

"Another re ason for the change is the freedom it enables to try experiments."

That would imply that he actually cares about the expectations of fans and the media.

"No, it's not about the expectations of other people, it's only about my own point of view. When I have a too fixed idea of what I'm going to do it might happen that I don't try out other things at all. I wanted to change my idea of my music and the change of this formality underlines it. I want to be able to do anything all along, as well when it's the biggest contrast to what I've done before"

Lanegan is frustrated of the limitations of the singer/songwriter genre since a long time but the addition Band to his name doesn't mean there is a steady band behind the recording of Bubblegum. Lanegan availed himself of the same pool of musicians which is used by the Queens of the Stone Age, Mondo Generator and the Desert Sessions.

"My songs develop in the same manner they do at the Desert ! Sessions. There is a highly concentrated tension during the recordings to albums of QOTSA, and I just want to work more freely, relaxed, with more fun nowadays. Without knowing were the journey might end."

The illustrious guests whom he gave his raw ideas for songs to cultivate them provided maximal variety: Deen Ween, David Catching, Josh Homme, Troy van Leeuwen, PJ Harvey, Alain Johannes, Chris Goss... Johannes, Goss and Lanegan were responsible for the goosebumps causing sound of the album. The production sounds warm defiant of the omnipresent melancholy and a light and constant vibrato creates pleasant feelings in the stomach.

The listing of guests can be carried on with names like Nick Oliveri, Molly Maguire, Izzy Stradlin, Duff Mckagan, Aldo Struyf, Joey Castillo and Greg Dulli. A little known but very often occuring name sounds bitter to Lanegan in hindsight: His ex wife Wendy Rae Fowler played keyboards and sang on two songs.

! "She sang on Bombed and on Wedding Dress of all songs, a not very f unny irony of fate" he says with a forced smile. They are seperated for several months now but the wound hasn't healed yet. "The first days after a split are the worst of course but I still have unpleasant thoughts these days. One reason why I'm here is that I can't stand being at home right now. A seperation is never easy but this time I was married after all."

Now the introverted charismatic singer with the image of a lonely wolf only has music as his perpetual fiancee. To her he can abandon himself and that's what he does wherever his dark passion is welcomed. His contribution to the next QOTSA album is already recorded and he will also be heard on Oliveri's acoustic album All Is Forgotten which is announced for fall. When he comes home after this promotion tour he will be in the recording studio in Joshua Tree to finish the Gutter Twins' album he is recording with his friend Greg Dulli. He also will "make a beautiful record" with Isobel Camp! bell on whose EP Time Is Just The Same he sang a song.

Making music doesn't mean to enjoy the unhealthy side effects of Rock'n Roll to him anymore. Already on the tours with QOTSA he was seen backstage only secluded of the wild after show parties which didn't seem to interest him much.

"That's right, these parties never were interesting for me. Drugs are hardly a part of my life these days and I thank god for it. I prefer accomplishing something. In a way my songs took place of the drugs."

Solely he can't get rid of smoking.

"And that really bugs me. The smoking stands in my efforts ways to gain more fitness. First I thought, why should I do jogging at all considering all the cigarettes I smoke? But then I realised that one smokes less when one is running."

Mark in a tracksuit? But he doesn't dare to participate in the next marathon.

"It won't get as far but I already feel better. I was a very athletic and ! sporting boy who played American Football and baseball a lot. The drug s and the Rock'n Roll might have impeded a big sports career."