Mark Lanegan will reassume his “Dark Mark” moniker for a new side project with former Icarus Line singer Joe Cardamone. Dubbed Dark Mark vs. Skeleton Joe, the duo have previewed the moody introductory track from their upcoming album together, “Dark Mark Theme” alongside its B-side, “Skeleton Joe Manifesto.”
The project is the latest artistic endeavor for the prolific Lanegan, the former Screaming Trees singer who in the past year has released a new album (Straight Songs of Sorrow) tethered to a harrowing memoir (Sing Backwards and Weep) while also recording a Christmas album (Dark Mark Does Christmas 2020) and quietly unleashing an EP as Black Phoebe, a collaboration with his wife Shelly Brien.
Despite the many projects, the sinister dance music of Dark Mark vs. Skeleton Joe is new territory for both the singer and his collaborator. “The fact that it’s not like anything either one of us have done before is what makes this so interesting for me,” Lanegan told Rolling Stone. “When you have done as much stuff as Joe and I you have to constantly search for the different and challenging to keep yourself engaged.”
“I just wanted to make some instrumentals that I thought Mark’s voice would shine on, something hard with space for Mark to let go,” Cardamone added. “On this project we had a pretty formal process. I would write and record an instrumental then text it over to Mark. Usually within a day I would get some voice memos with a pretty fleshed out vocal with lyrics. After we had collected a pile of those we took it to the studio and started laying down keepers. Usually one or two takes and done.”
The duo unveiled a teaser of the new material, with full versions set to be released in 2021.
Both “Dark Mark Theme” and “Skeleton Joe Manifesto,” serve as introduction to the artists’ alter egos. “The project is called Dark Mark vs. Skeleton Joe because we both have assumed these alter egos over the years. The material we wanted to do together seemed to take well to the idea that our personas here are is if we’re now outcasts to our own creative selves,” Cardamon said.
“‘Dark Mark Theme’ is one of my favorite tracks. The lyrics are awesome, and the instrumental component is just mean. Together, it all ended up as a powerful combination. ‘Skeleton Joe Manifesto’ is a four-in-the-morning-in-the-Paris-underground type of track. “
Lanegan added, “I think of ‘Manifesto’ as bizzaro gospel music with Joe as Christ. The theme is just twisted perversity, or at least that’s what it was intended to be. I think it’s safe to say that we achieved it.
In addition to the first two tracks, the duo have already laid down an entire album of Dark Mark vs. Skeleton Joe tracks, but its release was postponed by coronavirus.
“There is a full record. It’s done and in the can,” Lanegan said. “We were originally intending to release it earlier, but, with the pandemic, and other things going on in the world, it just hasn’t seemed appropriate. Now, we both feel more comfortable creeping some of this material into the open, and these two tracks are just a teaser for what’s to come with the full length.”