Mark Lanegan Band

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Mark Lanegan Band


Born in November 1964, Lanegan was a drug addict before he was of legal age. He was arrested at 18 and sentenced to a year, but was fortunate to go through a diversion program. It was around this time he met Van Conner and his brother Gary Lee. They formed Screaming Trees in 1985 in Seattle (just as grunge began waving it’s flannel shirt like a flag at the crumbling moshpit), signed to SST, and by their fifth album in 1991 they were part of a major label.

Nearly Lost You may have won the band wider exposure, but they were never hugely successful. By the time the Trees broke up in 2000, Lanegan had released a succession of excellent solo albums, culminating in 2001’s brilliant Field Songs. From there he teamed with Josh Homme, who had played guitar in Screaming Trees for a stint, to be part of Queens Of The Stone Age. Collaborations quickly followed – a long-awaited partnership with Afghan Whig’s Greg Dulli materialised in 2008, three albums were recorded with Isobel Campbell, and there were works with English electronica duo Soulsavers, and three albums with the Twilight Singers. His last ostensibly ‘solo’ release, Bubblegum, included a host of collaborations with the likes of Homme, Dulli and PJ Harvey.

“I enjoy doing all kinds of records,” Lanegan says. “It’s been a while since I’ve done a ‘solo’ album, but I enjoyed it.” There are loops, drum effects, and a lot of different sounds occurring throughout Blues Funeral, as Lanegan experiments in different approaches to making music. It certainly makes for a stylistically different record to the organic sounds of past solo albums. “I didn’t really think about it going in – it’s just the direction that it took. Once I cast a couple of songs in that direction by writing with people who had a drum machine or a synthesiser, it pointed [the whole album] in the direction.”

The songs for Blues Funeral came quickly, and were recorded with Alain Johannes – himself a member of Queens Of The Stone Age and a co-writer of the Lanegan-sung Hanging Tree – in his studio in California. “I don’t know if it was important,” Lanegan weighs up on the album’s spontaneity. “It was just the way that it happened. We were really just starting from scratch… I tend to write a lot of songs when making a record, so that part of it wasn’t really a big difference.”

As an artist, Lanegan has prospered by being a maverick, making whatever music that he feels like making with whomsoever he chooses – and Blues Funeral is another fine addition to a collection by a musician who seems tireless. When he tours the record in Australia with the Mark Lanegan band, they won’t try to replicate the sound on record, but the songs will still be notably muscular when compared to previous solo releases. “We’re not going to play an imitation of the record,” Lanegan expands of his performance plans. “It’s a ‘version’ of those songs and I’ll be playing with four other guys and we’ll be doing them if not note-for-note with the record but with a mix of sound that makes it sound good.”