Live Concert Photography: Mark Lanegan Band with Duke Garwood and Lyenn at The Gramercy Theatre 8/18/17
Mark Lanegan is a Ellensburg, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known as the frontman, and founding member of Seattle-based grunge rock pioneers Screaming Trees, and for collaborating with an incredibly diverse array of artists and bands throughout his lengthy career including Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain on an unreleased Lead Belly cover/tribute album recorded before the release of Nevermind; he was also a member of of renowned All-Star supergroup/side project Mad Season with Alice in Chains‘ Layne Staley and Pearl Jam‘s Mike McCready. Famously, after Screaming Trees broke up in 2000, Lanegan joined Queens of the Stone Age and was featured on five of the band’s albums — 2000’s Rated R, 2002’s Songs for the Deaf, 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze, 2007’s Era Vulgaris and 2013’s . . . Like Clockwork. Lanegan has also collaborated with The Afghan Whigs‘ Greg Dulli in The Gutter Twins and former Belle and Sebastian vocalist Isobel Campbell on three albums. Additionally, he has contributed or guested on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Martina Topley-Bird, Creature with the Atom Brain, Moby, Bomb the Bass, Soulsavers, Greg Dulli’s The Twilight Singers, UNKLE and others. And while being incredibly busy, Lanegan has also developed a relatively low-key solo career in which he’s released ten full-length albums that have been hcritically applauded and have seen a degree of commercial success; in fact, ironically enough, his solo work has been a bit more commercially successful than his work with Screaming Trees.
Lanegan’s 10th full-length effort Gargoyle was released last month through Heavenly Recordings and as the story goes, Lanegan can trace the origins of the album’s material and overall sound to early 2016. At the time, the renowned grunge rocker and singer/songwriter was working on some ideas for material that could possibly be a new, solo album when he received an email from a friend and collaborator, British-based musician Rob Marshall, who Lanegan had met several years before, when Marshall’s former band Exit Calm had opened for Soulsavers, a band that Lanegan had briefly fronted. The email Marshall sent had thanked Lanegan for his participation on an album Marshall had worked on with his latest project, Humanist; but more important, Marshall and offered to write music for Lanegan, as a way to return a favor. As Lanegan recalls in press notes, his response was along the lines of “Hey man, I’m getting ready to make a record, if you’ve got anything?” And a few days later, Marshall had sent him 10 different songs.
Early in the writing process, Lanegan had written “Blue Blue Sea,” a mood piece that he thought and felt would be a fruitful direction for the album. “It’s almost always how my records start,” the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter explains in press notes. “I let the first couple of songs tell me what the next couple should sound like, and it’s really the same process when I’m writing words. Whatever my first couple of lines are, tell me what the next couple should be. I’ve always built things like that, sort of like making a sculpture I guess.” Within about an hour, Lanegan and written words and recorded vocals for two of the instrumental tracks Marshall had written and recorded at Mount Sion Studios in Kent UK. Unsurprisingly, the instrumental material Marshall had written managed to fit perfectly with the direction Lanegan had been thinking of for some time — an expansion of the Krautrock-inspired electronic sounds and textures of his previous two albums Blues Funeral and Phantom Radio. Eventually Marshall wound up co-writing six of the album’s 10 songs with the remainder of the album being written and produced by Lanegan’s longtime collaborator Alain Johannes at 11AD Studios in West Hollywood.
As the story goes, everything was polished and finished within a month, which has been unusually fast by Lanegan’s recent standards. “I definitely feel like I’m a better songwriter than I was 15 years ago,” Lanegan stays in press notes. “I don’t know if I’m just kidding myself or what, but it’s definitely easier now to make something that is satisfying to me. Maybe I’m just easier on myself these days, but it’s definitely not as painful a process, and therefore I feel I’m better at it now. But part of the way that I stay interested in making music is by collaborating with other people. When I see things through somebody else’s perspective it’s more exciting than if I’m left to my own devices.”
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months you’d recall that I wrote about Gargoyle‘s second single “Beehive,” a single that paired Lanegan’s imitable baritone vocals with a bluesy and swaggering production featuring shimmering guitar chords and enormous tweeter and woofer rattling beats, essentially pushing Lanegan’s recent forays into the blues into the 21st Century. Last month, Lanegan and his backing band played The Gramercy Theatre as part of their containing tour to support Gargoyle and although I’m certain that many of his fans would have loved to heard some of his Screaming Trees material live, Lanegan’s set focused on his solo work, with the greatest emphasis being on his new album, but it also included a cover of Joy Division‘s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” to close out the night. British multi-instrumentalists and singer/songwriters Duke Garwood and Lyenn opened the night — with both artists doing double duty, playing with Lanegan’s backing band. Check out photos from the show below.
Duke Garwood is a British-based blues/indie rock multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, who has written and released five albums as a solo artist — Holy Week, Emerald Palace, The Sand That Falls, Dreamboatsafari and Heavy Love; but he’s also collaborated with renowned British electronic act The Orb, British rock band Archie Bronson Outfit, Savages, Shezad Dawood and Mark Lanegan among others.
With the release of 2009’s critically applauded debut alum The Jollity of My Boon Companion, 2011’s Vowels Fade First EP and 2016’s Slow Healer, the Belgian-born, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Fredric Jacques, best known as Lyenn developed a reputation for crafting delicate yet gorgeous and beguiling music that’s reminiscent of Nick Drake and others — thanks in part to the fact that it possesses a hushed intimacy. Along with playing with Mark Lanegan’s backing band, Jacques is also known as a member of Brussels-based jazz-rock trio Dans Dans, as well as leading member of Brussels‘ underground improv scene.