Dark Mark vs. Skeleton Joe (feat. Mark Lanegan and Joe Cardamone)

“The project is called Dark Mark vs. Skeleton Joe (DMvsSJ) because we both have assumed these alter egos over the years,” says former The Icarus Line frontman Joe Cardamone to Rolling Stone about his new band which also features Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan. “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.”  Premiering a preview to their debut single “Dark Mark Theme” which Rolling Stone calls a “moody introductory track,” DMvsSJ will be releasing their limited edition 12” vinyl single (b/w “Skeleton Joe Manifesto”) on June 11, 2021 via Rare Bird / Kitten Robot Records.

A project born from mutual respect, Dark Mark vs. Skeleton Joe mines electronic music and unearths an experimental sound for both of them. A prolific artist and author, Lanegan has collaborated with a host of bands and musicians, including UNKLE, Neko Case, The Duke Spirit and Queens of the Stone Age among many others. DMvsSJ marks a new band for Lanegan, not a guest spot or featured artist.  “The fact that it’s not like anything either one of us have done before is what makes this so interesting for me,” explains Lanegan. “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.”

With a predilection toward the darker shade of music, DMvsSJ leans heavily into midnight rhythms, inciting strains of Tones on Tail, Bauhaus, and IAMX. “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,” explains Cardamone.

“Dark Mark Theme” 12″ artwork

A fitting introduction to the world of DMvsSJ, “Dark Mark Theme” swirls in minor chords with Lanegan’s vocals matching Cardamone’s electronics. “’Dark Mark Theme’ is one of my favorite tracks,” confesses Cardmone. “The lyrics are awesome and the instrumental component is just mean. Together, it all ended up as a powerful combination.”  Adds Lanegan, “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.”

Its companion B-side, “Skeleton Joe Manifesto” ups the BPMs, creating a swirling and urgent dance track that hints at their range. “’Skeleton Joe Manifesto’ is a four-in-the-morning-in-the-Paris-underground type of track,” explains Cardamone. “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.”

With more music planned, DMvsSJ are planning a full-length for Spring 2021. “There is an entire full-length Dark Mark vs. Skeleton Joe record in the can that we’re finalizing now,” replies Cardomone. “Some little touches here and there still, but all in all we got a record on the way. “

Adds Lanegan, “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.”

And beyond that, hopefully with the pandemic under control, they expect to hit the road in support. “We definitely hope to tour,” concluldes Cardamone.  “Regardless, we’ll be making some films to accompany the full-length project and we’re both looking forward to getting them out into the world. We’ll tour again someday. When we do, we both expect it to be next level.”

Dark Mark vs. Skeleton Joe is Mark Lanegan and Joe Cardamone.  “Dark Mark Theme” b/w “Skeleton Joe Manifesto” 12” single will be released on June 11, 2021 via  Rare Bird / Kitten Robot Records with a full-length album to follow this Fall 2021. Preorder the single here.