Queens of the Stone Age

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Mark Lanegan performing in 2012. Photo courtesy of consequenceofsound.net.

Mark Lanegan performing in 2012. Photo courtesy of consequenceofsound.net.

By Brandon Judeh (Music Reporter)

Three decades ago, a young Mark Lanegan met Gary and Van Conner and formed the Screaming Trees. 30 years later, he’s still going strong with a solo career and various other projects.

Still, the nearly 50-year-old singer seems to never quite be in the spotlight, but rather lurking in the shadows of the rock world and that’s all right with him.

“I don’t worry about that kind of stuff, I just try to stay in the here and now. Because as far as the past goes, once it’s gone, it’s gone,” Lanegan said.

As the Grunge legend prepares to release his latest offering, Phantom Radio, on Oct. 21 and prepares for a mini U.S. tour, (hitting Cleveland’s Grog Shop on Nov. 5) the singer took time to talk to The Raw Alternative about his recent endeavors.

Having released three studio albums in less than three years (with a few EPs thrown in) and collaborating with such artists as Queens of the Stone Age, Lanegan has been busy, but the singer said he loves being in the studio.

“I love to keep busy and work, writing songs, recording and playing live is what I love the most. I always have something on my plate and I hope to continue that,” said Lanegan.

On Phantom Radio, Lanegan continues to travel the dark, bluesy rode he is accustomed to with rich textures and haunting lyrics.

Songs like “Death Trip to Tulsa” and “Harvest Home” highlight Lanegan’s raspy yet fragile vocals and throughout the album there is a bit of a New Wave aesthetic thrown in.

“I like how the album turned out, if I didn’t like it I honestly wouldn’t have released it. I always try to make every record be complete. I don’t want just two or three good songs, I want it to be a complete experience,” he said.

Lanegan will be debuting much of his new material on his tour that spans from Oct. 29 through Nov. 9, with a more extensive foreign tour starting in January where he will play spots in Europe, South America and Australia.

“I’m really looking forward to touring, I’m only doing a handful of shows here in the states and it’s always fun to play in Cleveland. The bulk of touring will take place next year overseas,” said Lanegan.

Mark Labegan performing live with Queens of the Stone Age circa 2000. Photo courtesy of vh1.com.

Mark Labegan performing live with Queens of the Stone Age, circa 2000. Photo courtesy of vh1.com.

It is no wonder Lanegan will be playing plenty of shows on foreign soil, as he said that his music seems to resonate stronger in other countries.

“I have no idea why, I never really thought about it, but we do get a bigger audience outside of the US, a lot more people seem to show up. Especially over the last few years, it’s just one of those things, but hey, I’m glad people are interested in my work, no matter where it may be,” he explained.

A lot of Lanegan’s past work with his former band the Screaming Trees as well as his collaborations with Queens of the Stone Age and his Leadbelly covers with Kurt Cobain have interested fans throughout the world.

Despite all of his past success, he remains humble.

“Pride can only hurt, it can never help,” Lanegan said. “I just focus on what’s in front of me and concentrate on the present. Thank God I still have stuff left to do.”

“It’s hard to have prospective, on stuff that happened in the past, when you’re in the middle of something, I never think about stuff like where I rank in the realm of the rock universe.”

When Lanegan and the Conner brothers started the Screaming Trees in 1984, it’s easy to assume they never thought that the Seattle scene would become a world phenomenon and eventually become legendary.

It’s also fair to say once bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam hit big that it was only a matter of time until Lanegan and company would score a hit.

In 1992 they did, when they released “Nearly Lost You” which was featured on the Singles motion picture soundtrack.

With the Trees long broken up and Lanegan fully cemented as a solo artist, it appears that there is no end in site for the singer song writer as he says he thinks he will be doing this for a long time.

“I’m always working toward something, after I’m done touring I’m sure I will be working on something new. Nothing is set in concrete, but knowing me, it will probably be another album,” finished Lanegan.


The Replacements performing at Riot Fest 2013.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

As another year comes to pass, we again reflect on all that was in music. 2013 was a year that saw many music legends return and sadly, a few of them check out. Heavy hitters like Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys and Queens of the Stone Age dropped exceptional high-energy rockers, while relative new-comers Deafheaven, Savages and Disclosure continued to push the limits of artistic integrity. And not to mention there was a slew of colossal comebacks from some of the biggest and most influential forces in music.

Early in 2013, the iconic David Bowie announced a new album, his first of new original material in over a decade. The result was The Next Day. Released in March, The Next Day is a quiet yet moving record that perfectly showcases how gracefully Bowie has aged and how sharp his musical wit still remains.

February saw the release of the highly anticipated third album from Shoegaze/Dream-Pop pioneers My Bloody Valentine. In late 2012, guitarist and mastermind Kevin Shields teased fans saying that an album was being mixed and will be released timely. This was a huge deal for fans, considering that it hade been 22 years since the release of their seminal classic, Loveless. The band followed through, and m b v was released just a little over a month into the year. Not only was it worth the wait, but it proved My Bloody Valentine was still capable of creating really good music as it held up perfectly next to Loveless, and proved itself to be one of the best records of the year.

One of the biggest comebacks of 2013 was certainly the return of Black Sabbath, and for many reasons. It was to be the first new record with original singer Ozzy Osbourne in 35 years. Shortly after the band officially announced their reunion plans in late 2011, guitarist Tony Iommi was diagnosed with cancer. After a year of undergoing treatments, and surviving the unfortunate resignation of original drummer Bill Ward, Black Sabbath released 13 this summer and made the entire spectrum of Heavy Metal drop to its knees. 13 was a crushing, bluesy, heavy-riffing affair that reminded everyone again just why this band was so important to not only Heavy Metal, but Rock and Roll as a whole.

Alternative Rock saw the return of two of its most influential and important figures: Queens of the Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails. QOTSA’s …Like Clockwork, their first record in six years, was a swinging, groove-heavy Rock and Roll party with an all-star cast of guest musicians (Dave Grohl, Julian Casablancas, Trent Reznor, Elton John). Cuts like “My God is the Sun” and “I Appear Missing” hadn’t hit as hard since 2002’s Songs For the Deaf. NIN’s electro-funky Hesitation Marks harked back to 1994’s The Downward Spiral, with an older and more bitter Reznor at the helm. Although not quite as abrasive as their earlier records, new cuts like “Copy of A,” “Came Back Haunted” and “In Two,” as well as the highly visual and conceptual Tension 2013 North American Tour, still hold Nine Inch Nails to their standard of crushing electronic heaviness and dark prowess.

Don’t call it a comeback, they’ve been here for years… Industrial-tinged Alt-Metalers Filter delivered The Sun Comes Out Tonight, their most concise and impactful record since their 1999 hit, Title of Record. Led by the singles “What Do You Say” and “Surprise,” the band are seeing a career renaissance, as fans continue to discover and rediscover their severely underrated and under-the-radar releases, 2008’s Anthems For the Damned and 2011’s The Trouble with Angels.

Indie Rock pioneers Neutral Milk Hotel and The Replacements also had quite the eventful summer in 2013, both returning from decade-long hiatuses. Neutral Milk Hotel returned for a handful of festival dates and small venue affairs, hinting at the possibility of new material in 2014. Elliott Smith resurrected the legendary Replacements for a handful of performances as well as a covers EP. New material hasn’t been confirmed, but fans remain hopeful entering the new year that The Replacements haven’t quite said everything that they need to just yet.

Finally, with 2014 looming, Art-Rockers Failure and Hip-Hop titans Outkast have announced reunion performances throughout 2014, leaving fans ecstatic for the possibility of extensive tours and new material.

Unfortunately, 2013 had it’s share of major losses in the world of music. Country music legends George Jones and Ray Price bid farewell, passing away of natural causes after leading long and wonderful careers. Deftones bassist Chi Cheng, who was placed in a semi-conscious coma following a motorcycle crash in 2008, passed away on April 13. Thrash Metal experienced a major loss when one of its key players, Slayer guitarist Jeff Henneman, passed away on May 2 due to complications following a spider bite. The Doors’ iconic composer and keyboardist, Ray Manzarek, succumbed to cancer at age 71 on May 20. In many ways, Manzarek remains the father Psychedelic music, as his signature atmospheric organ tones provided the perfect backdrop to Jim Morrison’s gothic poetry and soulful swagger. And last but certainly not least, Oct. 27 saw the passing of the legendary Lou Reed. Reed was the founder of 60’s Art-Rock trailblazers The Velvet Underground and enjoyed an extremely successful and influential solo career that continued right up until his death.

Although 2013 saw the loss of a major chunk of diverse and influential musicians, there is no doubt their work will love on in the years and generations to come!