The Scene LA: March, 2003

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From The Screaming of Trees to the Anthems of Queens
- singer and songwriter Mark Lanegan's work is laden with soul-searching depth filtered through smoky breath.

Perhaps best known from the days when the city of Seattle was giving birth to a musical moment in time, Lanegan's solo career is held highly in critical acclaim, yet he remains a true musician's musician. Which probably brings him to where we find him today: lending himself to the ever-revolving musical door that is better known as Queens of the Stone Age. This band seems to go in whichever direction keeps the good sounds flowing. The addition of Lanegan rounds out a vocal-swapping trio, adding some richness and weight in striking contrast to Josh Homme's smooth cynical croon, and Nick Oliveri's soul piercing squeal.

Enigmatic and the true personification of cool, Lanegan seems all this and then some. His quiet and reserve have created a public persona of an obviously private man. Only those close to him can know what the truth really is. But as I approached him to try and get a short interview, I saw with my own eyes the picture of collected composure the man possesses. Trapped like a lab rat in a media circus of pointing microphones, flashing cameras, and hot lights, he didn't let the madness get to him (the calm in the eye of the storm). I got the feeling that the world was moving around him at hyper-speed while he took it all in... passing through in slow motion. I pounced like the media viper that I was (for the moment), interrupting Mark as he stole one quiet moment to look through the bins there at Amoeba Music. He took my hand in a fast shake almost as though he was allowing me in to his personal bubble for a moment. As I proceeded to ask a few questions he listened closely and was careful to make eye contact while I spoke. It wasn't really that he was trying to make me feel like what I said mattered (I'm sure he's heard a better set of questions than the few I spewed out there on the fly). It was more like he was trying to look inside me to piece together the deeper meaning inside the words (if there actually could be any). The full sensory picture of the man was beginning to crystallize.

The voice of sonic fury in The Screaming Trees, scotch-flavored scorched blues-soaked vocal in his solo work, and the commanding echo from the ether in Queens of the Stone Age. Mark Lanegan has had a well-rounded and respectably prolific musical career. The Lanegan experience will continue to be musically diverse for as long as he has the desire to make music by himself or with friends. In a brief interview, TSLA was able to get a closer look into Lanegan's past, present, and a tiny glimpse at his future. This is a man whose actions upstage his spoken words, and vocals that could eclipse the sun.

Interview from the Amoeba Music press conference for Lollapalooza by Caren Spitler

TSLA: How did you hook up with the band? And do you consider yourself a permanent member?

ML: It was the natural progression of things, you could say. I have been lucky to make good music with some good friends. I'm the kind of guy who if somebody asks me to do something I say "sure". It's all a lot of fun, I sang on some of the previous record and then on this one. (shrugs). Here I am, right?

TSLA: The band's first, recent hit, "No One Knows," and the temporary presence of Foo Fighter's Dave Grohl behind the drum kit has brought the band out of obscurity. Do you think Grohl was helpful to the bands success hurtful or either?

ML: This band's been at it for a while, now suddenly, there's a hit single. It feels pretty strange. Working with Dave was a positive thing all the way around, but I wouldn't say that was the reason we are where we are at the moment. It doesn't hurt to have a really good record. The album speaks for itself

TSLA: One of the great things about this band is all the different vocals, between you, Josh and Nick, it gives a lot of diversity in the sound. Vocally your sound is sullen and raspy. Have you cultivated that sound over the years or have you always had that quality to your voice?

ML: Back in my early days I sounded a lot different, I think. Over time it changed into what you hear now. My father has gravely voice, I think it's hereditary. My lifestyle helped some too. I've been known to smoke a few packs of cigarettes. I didn't make a decision to sound like this. It wasn't on purpose.

TSLA: Will the current plans with QOTSA push back the release date of your upcoming solo album (the follow up to Field Songs)?

ML: The album is almost done now. We're in the process of mixing now. It's not really a question of this band pushing things back. We all have things we have to do. It all gets done.

TSLA: What kind of subject or themes do you deal with on your new album?

ML: What can I say? The same as most rock'n'roll. You'll have to wait and see.