The Black Heart Procession was launched in 1997 by Pall Jenkins (Ugly Casanova) and Tobias Nathanial, both from Three Mile Pilot. Other frequent members include violinist Matt Resovich (the Album Leaf), James LaValle (the Album Leaf and ex-Tristeza), and others.
Pall Jenkins’ mother Anna Zappoli is an accomplished painter who studied art in Italy. She has been known to do live painting performances around town at rock and roll shows.
Resovich is one of those musicians who keeps busy and often commits to many projects at a time. He’s performed with the Black Heart Procession, the Album Leaf, Mung, and Battling Maxo over the past decade, carving a niche with fans of eclectic and electronic music.
“My first childhood memory pertains to my current occupation: I told my parents I wanted to be a ‘fiddler on the roof’ just like the guy in the movie. They must have been stoked on my complete lack of economic sense.”
The Black Heart Procession is the best known of Resovich’s projects, formed in 1997. This band records and tours when the members have the time. The year 2006 saw the release of their album The Spell.
“By playing in the Black Heart Procession and the Album Leaf I’ve gotten to tour extensively in the U.S.A., Europe, and Asia. These are priceless memories, but a standout would have to be last summer’s show at the Hollywood Bowl with the Album Leaf, if only because I grew up attending bowl concerts ever since I can remember. To be on the stage looking out was a unique and awesome feeling.”
Resovich (under the moniker of side-project Roll Film) and his electric violin can be heard on the 2007 independent film Impaler, a documentary about Jonathon “the Impaler” Sharkey’s candidacy for governor of Minnesota in 2006. His other instrumental act is Toytester, “a computer-and-me” act of experimental sound and dance beats.
As for Black Heart Procession, according to Wikipedia, "Each one of their first four albums 1 through Amore del Tropico is what people would consider a concept album, progressive with a musical and lyrical theme. One major theme continues over many albums in a song called "The Waiter," which currently has five parts spanning from the first album to the newest album, The Spell. With this latest album, though, they seemed to have moved away from the entire conceptual idea, at least musically, with more songs that one would consider radio-friendly, although the same overall tone and sounds are still there."
Tobias Nathaniel lives in Portland, Oregon, while Pall Jenkins remains in San Diego. To make The Spell, the band assembled a new recording studio -- SDRL -- in San Diego, and then traveled between there and Portland to write and rehearse the material.
In early 2009, Black Heart Procession were in the middle of recording their sixth full-length when representatives from their label, respected indie innovator Touch and Go Records, told them that after 27 years of releasing some of underground rock’s most influential artists (including a decade’s worth of Black Heart material), they were closing down the label’s distribution wing and scaling back operations.
In a February 19 press release, Corey Rusk, the president for the Chicago-based label (which has issued releases for bands such as Calexico, Girls Against Boys, TV on the Radio, and Pinback), blamed the reorganization on economic hardship.
A few weeks later, on March 9, Pall Jenkins posted a blog entry on the band’s MySpace page informing fans of the news.
“Hey this is Pall,” reads the online bulletin, “anyone want or know anyone who wants to release the new Black Heart record — just let us know — we need a good company — Touch And Go is no longer releasing new records — so all the bands have to find new homes — sad times.”
In May 2009, Black Heart/Modest Mouse drummer and former San Diegan Joe Plummer replaced Jesse Sandoval in the Shins. Later in '09, the band released a new album, Six, on Temporary Residence Records.
In 2010, the band released a limited edition mini-album Blood Bunny/Black Rabbit on the Temporary Residence Limited label. They toured that autumn with folk duo and Temporary Residence labelmates the Books.
A collaboration with reggae legend Lee “Scratch” Perry, Blood Bunny/Black Rabbit, the eight song, 40 minute mini-album also includes a remix from Eluvian. It was released in a limited edition of 3,000 on vinyl and CD, with the first 300 LPs on colored vinyl.
In 2011, their ballad “Fade Away” appeared on the ending credits of an apocalyptic video game. “We were asked to write an original song for the ending of the new PlayStation 3 game called Infamous 2,” says Jenkins, “which is a much talked about release in gamer circles.” The song is Black Heart at their best, with piano and an opening chant that leads into a crisp snare beat and singer Jenkins’ crestfallen croon: “Through this land of tragedy, I try to find my way and in this town of misery I search for you. Now we walk away to the last of the day...”
They headlined the 11th Annual Underground Music Showcase in Denver, Colorado, held July 21 through 24, 2011. Over 300 acts played what’s billed as the largest indie music festival in the Rocky Mountains. By summer 2013, however, it appeared the band was going into an indefinite hiatus.
Pall Jenkins spent much of April 2014 on a European tour with Kurt Vile. The following year, drummer Joe Plummer - having relocated to Seattle - turned up on Little White Teeth’s album Songs the Attic Sings and released a solo album on Frenchkiss Records, Built in Sun, featuring Pall Jenkins as lead vocalist. Keyboardist Tobias Nathaniel relocated to Serbia.
Joe Plummer launched a new project in 2015 called Built In Sun featuring Pall Jenkins (Black Heart Procession, Three Mile Pilot) on vocals and Richard Swift on bass, with a self-titled debut album released August 7.
In March 2016, Black Heart Procession announced a reunion show set to take place at the Psycho Las Vegas Festival, happening Aug. 26 through 28 at Las Vegas' Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
The following summer, they announced plans to spend October-November on a U.S. tour. "We are flying over our Serbian brothers that are part of our band," said Pall Jenkins. "This tour will be based around playing our first album One start to finish. We will also then play other songs with the spirit of anti-war, borders, class, and differences of any kind."
During the pandemic shutdown of early 2020, Jenkins provided a new song called “On the Rise” to a compilation album, Love in the Time of COVID, released by an Italian record label, VeniVersus, and available free online, with an invitation to donate to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.