Joint Effort: Soulsavers and Mark Lanegan
When Mark Lanegan brings his growl to bear on Soulsavers’ cinematic electronica the results are nothing short of stunning. Doug Johnstone meets the makers
Gravelly voice-for-hire Mark Lanegan loves a good collaboration, from Isobel Campbell to Queens of the Stone Age to fellow grunge veteran Greg Dulli, but how did he come to be singing with English production and remix duo Soulsavers?
‘I’ve been a big fan of his for a long time and we had a mutual friend,’ says Rich Machin, one half of the outfit along with Ian Glover. ‘We’d finished our first record and I was talking to my friend who said he would pass Mark a copy, it might be something he’d be into ‘cos he was a big fan of electronic music. Five weeks later I got a call saying he was really into it and was up for meeting. We hung out to see if we would get along, if there was any kind of connection, and straight away it seemed like something that would work pretty well.’
Pretty well is an understatement, because the duo collaborated brilliantly with Lanegan first on 2007’s It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s the Way You Land and now on third album Broken. The new album features an all-star cast of guest vocalists, including Jason Pierce of Spiritualized and Faith No More’s Mike Patton, indeed so much quality did they have to hand that they ended up not including Will Oldham’s contribution on the album at all.
Throughout it all though, Lanegan is the focus, his incredible vocal power a perfect fit for the downbeat electronica which this time round contains more soul, country and gospel in the mix. As time goes on, Soulsavers sound less like a production team and more like a rock ‘n’ roll band having a rare old time.
‘The nature of what we’re doing has naturally evolved as time goes by,’ says Machin. ‘We did some touring running up to making this record, and I guess we soaked a lot of that up and it tended to come out that way.’
Soulsavers aren’t just a rock ‘n’ roll band, though. There is a real cinematic sweep to Broken, a musical ambition which is impressive, and which goes a long way to creating a wonderfully evocative and coherent piece of work.
‘I enjoyed making this record much more than the last one,’ Machin admits, ‘simply because I was allowed the chance to indulge myself with a few things I’d never had the chance to before, like working with a real orchestra. It was great being able to realise the sounds I had in my head.’
Their soundscaping skills haven’t gone unnoticed, and Machin and Glover are increasingly in demand for soundtrack work, as well as having plenty of their tunes pinched for high-profile American TV shows and movies. The two instrumentals on Broken certainly indicate that their future could easily lie in that direction, and it’s an aspect of what they do that Machin has loved since the start.
‘Instrumental music is something I’ve always been a big fan of,’ he says. ‘I love a lot of old Italian film score composers, I grew up listening to Morricone and Bruno Nicolai. And I also love more modern instrumental bands like Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky. There’s something really amazing about that stuff if you get it right.’
A description that could easily apply to Soulsavers themselves.
Oran Mor, Glasgow, Tue 25 Aug.