The Black Heart Procession for Blacklisted Copenhagen

Recapping the tumultuous career of The Black Heart Procession

Exchanging some words with musical icon Pal Jenkins on his 20-year musical career with The Black Heart Procession

Published: March 20, 2017
Words: Pal Jenkin & J. Scott Stratton

The 2002 album Amore Del Tropico by The Black Heart Procession was a bit of a seminal album for me discovering a new genre of music, during a time when I was unemployed and on the ass end of a bad break-up and listening to a weird mix of Morrissey and southern California straight-edge hardcore bands.

There was nothing particularly special about the day I first discovered Amore Del Tropico, and the previous albums by Black Heart Procession. It was another day out of hundreds that I spent jobless and wandering around during the winter of 2002.

I remember the album artwork first, then the name—painted huge upon the wall outside of Tower Records in the Queen Anne district of Seattle. It was a thing that Tower used to do back then, paint the album artwork of a new release on the side of their building as a promotion. It caught my eye as I was shuffling past Tower on my to drop off an job application at a restaurant a few blocks down the street.

I wandered into the store, stood at their listen station, and went the whole record through—I was unemployed, I had nothing better to do. It lead me down a path of discovering a whole of alternative music to me—a genre where the majority of all songs are built around minor chord, and everything had a grim feeling. It was exactly what I needed.

From the moment that I discovered that Black Heart Procession album, I spent at least a year searching for band that had the same feel. I became insatiable for that sound—and mind you, this was before Spotify, so searching for music was a manual (but more pleasurable) task. Bands like Wovenhand, The Twilight Singers and Arab Strap were constant rotation through my Panasonic Shockwave portable CD player.

When I heard late last year The Black Heart Procession had reformed and were embarking on their first European tour in over 4 years, I immediately want to get in touch with them for an interview—and through a little bit of digging, I found the contact information for the frontman himself, Pall Jenkins.

Rather than publish another wiki-page on the band’s background, can you tell me how you feel the band has progressed and evolved in the last 20 years?

I would say being objective, subtle yet direct when needed, being able to view thing with experience can really help you see how an audience may see or feel something. I think our patience toward each other and respect has grown. I’ve always felt I wanted to get stranger and deeper with the music as I grow old not safer and more commercial. I think our music is something that will get better with age. It’s been a long road in the past 20 years full of good times and bad and this is perfectly fine.

The band took a hiatus from 2013 until late last year, what caused you to take a break?

We got sick of certain aspects of music and business. Also Toby was going to school and other private things were going on in our life. I lost hearing In my right ear and now can only use my left ear to hear so I had a very hard time with this. I sold most of my recording equipment and backed away. I began to do wood work and other jobs. Yet still playing music solo quietly going deaf. The Dr tried to save my ear but no hope. It’s a long story. Basically I got an air-born bacteria that created an infection that damaged my ear drum. They thought it was maybe a brain tumor but thankfully not. So I have one ear to use. I have con back and the band is more understanding and we work to make me comfortable as possible on stage. It can be tricky some nights but I am also happy. This is a challenge and it makes me look at music and life in a new way.

When you, “got the band back together”, what lead you to the choice of hitting the road rather than the studio for a new album?

We wanted to do a tour and make some money , see our fans but also for he to see how it felt with my ear to play 27 concerts in a month . We also love music.

What is it like being back on the road after such a long break?

It really feels great. Our band and happiness feels great. Our shows I feel are very emotional and important for everyone there. It’s an honor and blessing to perform.

What are some of the influences you have now, in contrast to what influences you in the early days?

We have always been influenced by what is going on around the world and just living. It’s a very interesting and strange time in 2017. A whole lot to be concerned about and react to. This influences me. Also we are older and life changes this brings out interesting feelings to explore.

Are there plans for a new album?

Tobias and I are talking about a new album. I believe and hope there will be but I don’t think anytime soon.