By Michael Petitti
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, November 17, 2005
It's tough to imagine The Black Heart Procession getting much time to do anything - let alone tour - as a band anymore. Each member of the band seems to be elbow deep in side projects ranging from starting and touring with your own successful atmospheric indie-electronic act (as bassist Jimmy Lavelle has done with The Album Leaf) to touring as an unofficial new member and additional percussionist with one of indie-rock's biggest acts (as percussionist Joe Plummer has done with Modest Mouse).
But vocalist/guitarist/saw-ist Pall Jenkins has managed to corral the troops for a follow-up to their successful noir-murder-mystery album/DVD 2002's Amore del Tropico. Despite mum being the word on an official title and release date (sometime in May), Jenkins reluctantly leaked a bit of information about the new album.
"There are a couple titles floating around, but I suddenly tell you one and you're going to print it," Jenkins said. "I don't know, but something like ... maybe ... I don't know. I shouldn't say, yet. I don't know what the title's going to be yet. Well, I'll tell you, I think it's going to be called The Spell. Yeah, I guess you could say that."
The recording process itself has been also been a burden, with numerous hours logged traveling between Stereo Disguise Laboratories, the band's home studio in San Diego and Portland, Ore.
"Well, Toby (Nathaniel), our piano player, got married and moved to Portland," Jenkins said. "I think that was like the biggest hitch and everything; you know, having to fly back and forth. Our drummer (Joe Plummer) already lives up in Portland, so it was like both of them would have to fly back (to San Diego) and then I'd fly up there and we'd work. Once we started tracking they were coming down here a bunch, so yeah it was a little tricky in that aspect."
All the back and forth hasn't affected the band's sound. The Spell looks to again reinterpret the group's sound, as Amore del Tropico went from graveyard dirges to tropical grooves.
"Yeah, it's going to be different," Jenkins said. "We did this one more tracking as a live band, like we do our set live. So, it's a lot of the people we play live with, and there's more drums going on. It doesn't have as many of the tropical vibes as our last record. There are some darker elements on this record, but it's different. I don't like necessarily making the same record over and over. I like to kind of stretch out and try and find new places and new ways to make music that's pleasing."
Although the new album may be conceptual, it doesn't look to be the burdensome task that making the album/DVD for Amore del Tropico was.
"The last record was pretty grueling. This record I think we just wanted to keep it simple and make a record that we felt good about playing live," Jenkins said. "But there are thematic elements in the record. The spell is kind of an overall theme as some sort of hypnosis theme. There's definitely not going to be a DVD or anything, though."
One theme that keeps emerging in the music of The Black Heart Procession is Jenkins' special contribution of a construction-site classic: the saw. His saw training was fairly informal (all things considered).
"Basically, I just heard it was possible," Jenkins said. "I heard you could make a sound with the saw, and I was like, 'OK, I want to figure this out.' And I started on hardware saws ... and eventually found a real musical saw ... and that was the first one I bought, and that was a good 10 years ago. I saw somebody in a store play it, and I was like, 'OK, I got it, thanks,' and that was the only lesson I ever really got. I just started teaching myself. I just get curious about sounds. Something makes a sound or something interests me, I want to know about it."
Jenkins and crew will be playing Tucson as part of a three-date mini tour, which will also take them to the Cayenne Music Festival on Saturday in Mesa where they'll co-headline with Spoon. To check out some of the new album before it hits stores next year, head on over to Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave., tomorrow at 9 p.m. Tarantula AD opens the all-ages show. Tickets are $10.