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Double trouble with The Gutter Twins

Double trouble with The Gutter Twins |
The formidable pairing of US vocalists Greg Dulli (The Afghan Whigs, The Twilight Singers) and Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Queens Of The Stone Age) as The Gutter Twins resembles a powerful reincarnation. The slow-burning Gothic blues of their debut album, Saturnalia, has marked both men’s return to the seminal grunge label Sub Pop and further sharpened their creative juices.

Dulli, the more loquacious of the duo, certainly sounds like he’s relishing the experience as they approach their latest London date: ‘It’s been a kick to find out what my voice can do,’ he says, with a hearty laugh. ‘Mark Lanegan does not sing harmonies – he sings his way and you have to adapt. But he’s also a very kind and generous performer. People have been waiting for the blow-up between us but it’s not going to happen, even though we bust each other’s balls all the time.’

He does admit that teaming up with another frontman would have seemed like a crazy notion just a decade ago. ‘I thought I really liked being “the guy” all the time,’ he muses, mentioning that producing and playing guitar for cult Italian rock band Afterhours effectively tempered his ego.

In fact, both of these indie heroes are true collaborative spirits; Lanegan has also successfully worked with British artists Isobel Campbell and Soulsavers, and he joined The Twilight Singers for their 2006 tour, which Dulli calls the ‘litmus test’ for The Gutter Twins. ‘There’s really no such thing as a solo album, unless you’re Prince and you play every instrument,’ he adds.

In their own ways, from Lanegan’s gravelly intonation to Dulli’s wounded roar, both men sing a distinctly raw form of soul. Dulli, who was reared on 1960s r’*’b before he discovered underground rock’*’roll, offers pithy reasoning for this: ‘Suffering and sensuality are the common themes of soul music – they’re the things I’m most attracted to.’

While he hints at a forthcoming instrumental project, it’s clear that Dulli still has plenty of fire in his belly. ‘I’m enormously competitive – I hold my material against everybody else’s,’ he admits. It might appear that he’s toned down his famously rambunctious stage presence for his meeting of minds with Lanegan but he assures us: ‘I’ve kinda subsumed that personality for now – everything I do is a reaction to what I’ve done before. But don’t worry – that guy will be back.’

In the meantime, The Gutter Twins transform the murkiest human emotions into strangely uplifting works of beauty: these are roughly seasoned soul men, looking at the stars.

Wed, Aug 13, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Shepherd’s Bush Green W12, 7pm, £15. Tel: 0870 060 0100. Tube: Shepherd’s Bush

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