Pall Jenkins is a musician and visual artist working out of San Diego, CA. He’s likely best known for his bands The Black Heart Procession and 3 Mile Pilot, having also created artwork for many of the releases. Pall keeps himself pretty busy, and we learned that coffee helps keep him going.
Hi, Pall. Thanks so much for letting me ask you some questions. To start with, why don’t you tell me a bit about yourself and what you do?
I first started off playing music as a kid. We had a guitar around the house and when I was about 12 I convinced my dad to buy me an electric guitar and amp. I took lessons for a bit but then the guitar ended up in a closet. I began drawing and writing at a young age as well. My mother is a painter and poet. When I was about 16, my friends asked me to try singing for their band cause I was into music and always writing poetry. We released one 7 inch under the name Dark Sarcasm. After that ended I was asked to play with some other guys that became 3 Mile Pilot. We had a guitar player but he left the band so ended up without a guitar player. I remembered that I could play a little so I started again but taking it a bit more serious. We did 5 albums, 7 inches and Eps with that band. After 3 Mile Pilot, I formed The Black Heart Procession. We toured all over the US and Europe releasing 6 albums, and several Eps and 7 inches. I also did a band called Mr. Tube and the Flying Objects, releasing 2 albums. I now still play with those bands at times. I also play Solo quite often.
In regards to music, you’re likely best known as being a core member of The Black Heart Procession. After a few years of inactivity, last year saw a tour from you guys, as well as a reissue of your first record (nearly impossible to find for ages). You also released The Waiter Chapters I-VIII, which compiles tracks strung throughout your discography about the mysterious “Waiter.” What caused this activity, and how was the experience for you?
The Black Heart Procession
Tobias now lives in Belgrade, Serbia so it’s tricky to do things. We decided it would be nice to do a European tour. His brother in law is drumming for us and other friends fill out the other roles, Our whole band now is living in Serbia except for me, living in San Diego. We had a great time on the European tour, so we thought to bring those guys over here to the U.S. and do a tour. As for the releases, it just seemed time to do a reissue of the first album and the Waiter Chapters we did years ago on CD but never on vinyl, we added a couple new tracks and did this on vinyl.
You have some Black Heart Procession shows coming up in Europe this month, surrounding a very exciting weekend celebrating 30 years of Uzeda. How did that come about, and what has Uzeda meant to BHP over the years?
I've known Agostino a long time. My family is from Catania, Sicily and i heard there was a guy that could help bring my bands down to play. When i was visiting my family there, I got his number, called him up and invited him out to coffee to introduce myself. I gave him some history of my music and ask/begged him to book our band in Sicily. Shortly after, by pure chance, we had our first release on Touch and Go and Agostino/Giovanna and us all were on the same label/family. At this same time Agostino and Giovanna (Indigina) began to book us all over Italy, and a deep awesome friendship has grown from those early days till now. They have met my family in Sicily and here in San Diego, and we have toured Sicily, just Agostino and I. We have toured together in the US and Europe. Every time i go there, I take time off to visit my family and Agostino and Giovanna. So, of course, when they asked us to play this anniversary show, we had to do it.
Aside from BHP, you have been involved in several other musical projects. Tell me about them, and are you actively involved with anything at the moment?
As I mentioned above I have several projects I’ve done in the past and they all function at times. I’m working on my solo album, but it is taking a little time. I am soon playing a couple shows and making a recording with Lori Goldston, most well known from her playing with Nirvana on the MTV Unplugged performance. We will release an EP.
You also create a substantial amount of amazing visual art. In fact, my first exposure to your work was when Touch and Go released The Black Heart Procession 2, and I was completely drawn in by the artwork before ever even hearing the record. Were you more interested in visual art or music first, or did it all happen concurrently?
My mother is an amazing artist and has always inspired me to create in one form or another. It kind of all happened at the same time as a kid. I went back and forth between music, art, and writing. Music took hold and it just seemed natural to do the art on the albums. After spending so much time making an album the art is the fun part and really can tie things together and take the imagery into a different space. Music and art have always gone hand in hand for me. Music paints a picture, and I’m really influenced by that idea. The idea of taking the listener on a journey creating pictures in their mind. I also really love when It surprises me and I end up in a place I didn’t expect, sonically or visually.
From what I know of your work, there is a beautiful melancholy, slightly spooky aesthetic that runs through it. What have you have you drawn inspiration from over time? Have you seen that evolving over time?
I think my main inspiration is creating, discovery, surprise and completion of a project. I love holding an album in my hands when it’s all done. I think what gets me through that is similar to a movie unfolding, taking bits of life and stretching them in ways to create a story. Playing music without intention and finding yourself somewhere new when you finally look around. It’s a form of meditation and an exercise in removing all intention from your mind and connecting with your subconscious. I also like subtle intentions, politically or socially entering those qualities into what might be perceived as just a love song can be more if you layer words in the right way. Usually though I feel songs have words as you are making them and it’s a matter of tapping in to the song. I like to imagine taking no credit as a lyricist but rather the song wrote the words.
I’ve seen evidence of some of your beautiful woodwork recently. Is there anything else you’re working on these days?
I have really been into woodworking for the past 6 years or so. I make tables, wood art, plant stands, and anything that comes to my mind. I have a woodshed and make things in my yard. I enjoy again creation and putting on my hearing protection and just getting lost from the world making something for my home, as a gift or to sell. I want to make every piece of furniture in my house and I’m getting close but still a ways to go. My next challenge might be chairs. I’m not a cabinetry maker and I would hate to think I would have to make something actually functional , opening and closing etc. I keep it simple and just make what I want. I use Hardwoods such as Walnut or salvaged wood.
Woodwork by Pall Jenkins
Ok, let’s talk about coffee. How big of a role does coffee have in your day to day existence?
Coffee has been a part of my life for a very long time. I drink coffee every day and several cups. When I was younger before coffee shops were everywhere I worked at one as well. I have traveled a lot and have had coffee in every country and city I go. It’s without a doubt a tool for me as well, to get in a mood before creating and to keep me up when I feel like I might need the extra push to complete something day or night.
How do you feel coffee affects your creative process?
Coffee is a stimulant so it’s part of the deal when working in the studio or at home. I have even used it pouring it on pager for artwork to age the paper. You can see proof of this in a couple of the albums artwork, BHP #2 and #6 have this process.
What’s your preferred brew method?
I prefer a nice macchiato or cappuccino. I don’t like a lot of milk in my coffee. At home I have had espresso machines but they break and I return to my trusted French press. I have had maybe 10 over the years as I always break the glass. I recently saw a metal one and am waiting for when I break the one I have to try one. At home I use rice milk in my coffee. I don’t like Soy or Coconut milk in my coffee because it changes the flavor profile too much, where rice milk is much more mild a flavor.
French press, photo by Kristan Lieb
I don’t really have a favorite region besides sitting in my backyard having a cup of coffee. What I can say is that I usually get my coffee from Costco (Thanks Mom) as it’s the best deal for someone who drinks a lot of coffee. I love when a friend like you sends me 3 bags of black gold though. I’m drinking your Black Magic blend right now and seriously loving it. I buy coffee beans elsewhere at times if it looks and smells good also to support local businesses. My favorite coffee shop in San Diego is Heartwork because it’s run by punk rockers that are old friends and it’s right next do to the record store I work at.
Thanks so much!
You can check out more of Pall’s artwork and info on all of his musical projects at www.palljenkins.com
Check out our Pall Jenkins 101 playlist