When you think of great team-ups in the music world, you usually think of the big hitters: Franz Ferdinand and Sparks, Madlib and Logic, or even esteemed bands like McFly and Busted. But here we have a team-up from legends of the music world, bringing a new kind of energy to dance music with a gothic twist.
To give a bit of background Dark Mark (aka Mark Lanegan from alt-rock band Screaming Trees) and Skeleton Joe, who is Joe Cardamone (The Icarus Line). Together these two legends of the industry, out of mutual respect, have created this project and decided upon calling it “gothic death disco.” The album is due out on October 15th via Rare Bird/ Kitten Robot Records and is bound to be a big hit amongst fans.
When speaking to Joe from Soundsphere towers, Dom Smith asked why the two wanted to work together. “For some reason, I just wanted to hear him over the kind of like vintage, heavy techno beats.” The album itself, which he describes as reflecting the solitary nature of quarantine in the first half, before turning into a self-proclaimed “all night banger session” during the second half. The making of the record allowed for Joe to take much more of a back seat on the vocals and focus more on the atmosphere of the record.
“One of the best parts is not having to sing too much on it or have to think of lyrics; I didn’t have to put too much of myself out there.”
The sessions happened quickly and efficiently, and Joe would send Mark music it allowed them to vibe it to an extent. “When it came time to send him music, I would text him like three or four instrumentals. And by the next morning, I would have like, iPhone, like scratch ideas, full lyrics, full everything, go into the studio that day, lay it down, and we’re done.”
When asked how he has changed as a person over the years and developed as an artist, he became very introspective. “I think what, what you hear is more me trying to escape from myself. Which is impossible; I think we never escape who we are, you know?” Even at the age of 42, he doesn’t believe in listening back on an enviable back catalogue of music. He doesn’t believe that he has made a definitive album, even with critically acclaimed work behind him, “if you do something that you feel is definitive, then like, I don’t know what you have to keep doing it for, you know?”
Even with all of his success, he doesn’t have to worry about compromise. This is because he is in an enviable position of making music and being as creative as he wants, compared to his more famous musician friends, who may have to compromise their work more for the commercial element most record labels are obsessed with. As he says so aptly, “success has been being able to make what you want.”
A great quote someone gave to Joe on tour once, “you’re not paying me for the hour, I’m on stage, you’re paying me for the 23 hours, I’m not on stage.” The amount of downtime that musicians have on tour is enormous, especially when you don’t have something to keep you occupied like a normal nine to five. Creating music is Joe’s way of coping with the stresses of everyday life. “My main coping mechanism with the world is like creating shit.” Apart from that, small things like cleaning the house, feeding the dogs and even making a coffee table all help to relieve the pressure that we all put on ourselves.
One of their (Icarus Line’s) first experiences in the UK involved supporting Primal Scream on tour, with a camaraderie forming with the two bands. After meeting Shane Mcgowan, Johnny Marr and many more artists Joe idolized. There are a lot of great experiences of coming to the UK, and the tour with Primal Scream is a standout. “For us as a young, fuck-up, drug-addled rock band from the United States to be embraced by a crew like that.” It felt like everything just clicked between them “nothing felt forced – we all just hit it off.”
To round things off, when asked what message he would like to give to his fans in the UK, he gave us this brilliant gem. “It’s an honour to me to be able to share work with people that impacts their life. I mean, it amazes me always, it always does that anyone gives a fuck at all.”
Interview: Dom Smith / Words: Brett Herlingshaw