Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan and The Icarus Line vocalist Joe Cardamone postponed the release of their Dark Mark vs. Skeleton Joe debut 12’’ single to June 11 after originally announcing it for March 12, 2021 via Rare Bird/Kitten Robot Records. It’s available for pre-order here. In addition, they announced that a collaborative album is set to be released sometime in Fall 2021.
The single will feature two songs, “Dark Mark Theme” and “Skeleton Joe Manifesto,” the first of which was teased with a lyric video clip in October 2020. As the name suggests, it’s a dark, cinematic sound with fitting lyrics like the opening lines, “Neck deep/Quicksand/Kick me in the throat/Bind my hands.” The meaning is vague, but the sinister atmosphere seeps through it.
“‘Dark Mark Theme’ is one of my favorite tracks,” Cardamone commented on it. “The lyrics are awesome and the instrumental component is just mean. Together, it all ended up as a powerful combination.” Lanegan spoke of the B-side, “I think of ‘Manifesto’ as bizarro 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.”
“Skeleton Joe Manifesto,” which will only be available through this 12’’ vinyl release, is said to have a faster tempo and an intense dance rhythm. Cardamone stated, “‘Skeleton Joe Manifesto’ is a four-in-the-morning-in-the-Paris-underground type of track. Mark and I both sweat the good dance music from the past, so the two tracks just seemed like a cool chance to strobe out, if that makes sense.”
Cardamone pivoted from there to reveal, “There is an entire full-length Dark Mark vs. Skeleton Joe record in the can that we’re finalizing now. Some little touches here and there still, but all in all we got a record on the way.” Lanegan added, “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.”
“The project is called Dark Mark vs. Skeleton Joe (DMvsSJ) because we both have assumed these alter egos over the years,” Cardamone told Rolling Stone. “The material we wanted to do together seemed to take well to the idea that our personas here are as if we’re now outcasts to our own creative selves.”
On how it sounds, he explained, “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.” They credit artists like Tones on Tail, Bauhaus and IAMX for inspiration.
“The fact that it’s not like anything either one of us have done before is what makes this so interesting for me,” Lanegan added. “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.”
Lanegan also used the Dark Mark moniker on his collaboration with electronic musician Not Waving, called Downwelling, which was released in August 2019. The first time it was used was for Dark Mark Does Christmas 2012, which he followed up with Dark Mark Does Christmas 2020 last year.
Photo credit: Raymond Flotat