Published Jan 30, 2012There was a time in Mark Lanegan's career when an album entitled Blues Funeral might seem like a bad omen for the Seattle scene veteran who has battled substance abuse for many of his 47 years. But aside from Blues Funeral getting off to a frustrating start, with the demos ending up mysteriously erased, the album is a fitting bookend to the most fruitful ― and healthy ― period of Lanegan's career, dating back to his previous solo effort, 2004's Bubblegum.
"That was a first," Lanegan says of the initial technical setback. "I couldn't remember anything [on those tapes] that I really liked, so it was easier just to walk away."
He now speaks proudly of Blues Funeral's end result, which combines elements of the other work Lanegan has done over the past eight years, including three acclaimed folk-rock duet albums with former Belle & Sebastian singer Isobel Campbell, two more with UK electronica outfit Soulsavers, his hard-rocking Gutter Twins project with old friend Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs and guest appearances with Queens of the Stone Age.
In fact, Lanegan gives a lot of credit to producer and Queens cohort Alain Johannes for getting Blues Funeral back on track. "Working with Al made dealing with all that a lot easier because he's so musically intuitive," Lanegan explains. "I've made records with a lot of people over the last few years, but Al really supports my vision and God willing we'll make the next record the same way."
As for Lanegan's ongoing preoccupation with death on Blues Funeral, he says that he's never really aware of specific themes until they are pointed out to him. "I just sort of do what comes natural. I think there's something therapeutic in singing about anything, whether it's what you've written or whether it's someone else's song. I find both satisfying in different ways."