One of rock’s great voices was nearly silenced earlier this year, when Mark Lanegan endured a horrific battle with COVID — which left him in a three-week coma and temporarily deaf. The singer’s agonizing journey is documented in his brand-new book, Devil in a Coma.
Lanegan is the former frontman of Screaming Trees and an erstwhile member of Queens of the Stone Age. While he mostly records with his solo band these days, he sometimes ventures out for cool collaborations like his recent Dark Mark vs. Skeleton Joe project with The Icarus Line’s Joe Cardamone.
Intense reading from beginning to end, Devil in a Coma also inserts bits of Lanegan’s poetry between his recollections. The vocalist/poet/author spoke with Heavy Consequence from his home in Ireland (where he’s been living for over a year) shortly before the release of Devil in a Coma, which just arrived in the UK via the publisher White Rabbit.
Not only did Lanegan discuss the book, he also shared his thoughts on the vaccine, past musical projects, and future plans. Read our interview with Mark Lanegan below, and pick up the book Devil in a Coma here.
On how he is currently doing health-wise
A million times better — I finally turned the corner. But it took a really long time. It was crazy. There’s some residuals. Whatever I had, it attacks places where there was trauma in the body previous times. And I had a number of accidents over the course of my life. I have a chronically f**ked up knee which still gives me some pain. That was one of the strange things about the thing — it went for any place where you were injured or had something happen before.
On losing his hearing for a spell
That was from the virus. I just woke up one day totally deaf. It came back after I came out of the coma.
On his stance on the vaccine
I couldn’t get it quick enough after I got out of the hospital. Anything that would potentially prevent this from happening, I’m all for it. I previously said I’d be the last one to get it and I’d wait and see how it treated everybody else. I was a bit weary of it — like a lot of people. But a hardcore kick to the balls like I got changed my attitude on it.
On getting COVID just as the vaccine was being made available to public
Y’know, I probably wouldn’t have gotten it — even if it was available beforehand. Like I said, I was one of those knuckleheads who was weary of it. But I learned my lesson. I’ll be the first one to get a booster shot when it’s available [in Ireland].
On when he decided to write Devil in a Coma
I started writing it when I was in the hospital — on my phone. Really, just from sheer boredom and trying to get my head squared away after three weeks in a coma. It takes a while to get your focus and thoughts the way they were previously.
On whether he’s back creating new music
I’m working with somebody, but I usually don’t like to talk about that shit until it’s done, because I’ve made mistakes about talking about shit that didn’t come to fruition.
On his time with Queens of the Stone Age
I loved it. A great band — still is. Josh [Homme] is one of my closest friends, and the other guys were totally cool.
On his time with Screaming Trees
It’s kind of like looking back at grade school. I definitely have fond memories and it’s really how I learned to sing — through trial and error, with those guys.
On whether he thinks the early ’90s grunge and alternative explosion was the last great movement within rock music
No, I don’t. It’s still hard for me to look at it as a movement. I think that’s something that’s created by the outside world — not by the guys that were really doing it. It’s not something that was contrived or cooked up around the campfire somewhere. It just happened organically. It’s hard for me to comment, because there’s always great new music and there probably always will be — as long as the sun keeps shining.
On whether fellow Seattle-area acts like Soundgarden and Alice in Chains should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
I personally don’t think a lot of the Hall of Fame. I think it’s a financial thing. If it was really about true innovators and great bands, [L.A. punk band] The Gun Club would be in there, Roky Erickson would have been in there before he passed away. It is what it is. It’s B.S., in my opinion.
On how living in Ireland compares to living in the US
Where I’m at, it’s largely rural. It’s like horse country. That’s kind of where I grew up, in North Carolina for a period of time, in a similar kind of environment. Physically, it’s really beautiful — much like a lot of places in the US. And people are people wherever you go.
On what his typical day is like now
I spend my time writing and working on music. Dabble with some drawing. Hang out with my wife.
On his future plans
I’ve got a [different] book coming out sometime next year. It’s another book of poetry, with Wes Eisold of Cold Cave fame. We did one a couple of years ago [Plague Poems]. And I plan on making music.
Devil in a Coma book cover: