Besides his guitar-slinging, they look for Pall Jenkins to play the saw as well.
When J Mascis, Dinosaur Jr. frontman, was preparing to record his new solo album, Tied to a Star, released on August 26, he searched for musicians capable of not only singing backup vocals but people who could play a number of instruments, such as the organ, guitar, and musical saw.
He turned to part-time San Diego resident Pall Jenkins, frontman for San Diego bands Three Mile Pilot, Black Heart Procession, and Mr. Tube & the Flying Objects.
Jenkins had contributed to Mascis’s 2011 solo album, Several Shades of Why.
Tracking Jenkins down was no easy task. For over two years now, Jenkins has taken his show on the road, splitting his time between Portland (Oregon), Zurich, and San Diego. He moved to Portland over two years ago.
“I moved for a change and just to do it. I found myself at a point in life where I wasn’t tied down, so I went for it. I brought some gear and got right to recording myself and a few bands.”
Mascis found Jenkins through Otis Bartholameu, “O,” of San Diego punk bands fLUF and Olivelawn.
Jenkins didn’t need much convincing.
“J got my number from ‘O’ and asked if I’d like to play on his new solo record. Being a big fan, I of course said yes. I’m a huge fan, so I was thrilled but a little nervous. I wanted to do well.”
In March 2014, Mascis sent a handful of new songs to Jenkins at his girlfriend’s apartment in Zurich, Switzerland.
“He sent me his songs and I put some parts down on a handful of them. He then used what worked for the final mix. In the end, I sang and played guitar and played on tracks ‘Me Again,’ ‘Every Morning,’ ‘Wide Awake,’ and ‘Trailing Off.’”
As for Mascis’s notorious prickly reputation, made famous by his spats with Dinosaur Jr. bandmate (and later lead singer for lo-fi rockers Sebadoh) Lou Barlow, Jenkins didn’t see anything of the sort.
“J was really easygoing and we had no issues at all. For helping out, he sent me one of his Signature Series Fender Squire Jazz Master Guitars. I just got it the other day and it’s awesome. I’ve been blessed with some cool opportunities with music in my life, and this is right up there near the top of the list.”
J Mascis isn’t the only musician to have tapped Jenkins for help. Jenkins sang and played saw on Portland stoner-rock band Red Fang’s 2013 album, Whales and Leeches.
Jenkins has embraced the role as collaborator. “I love doing it. Playing music with others is just like mixing potions, sort of like witchcraft or Breaking Bad without the meth. Playing solo is cool, but I easily prefer playing with others.”
Preferences aside, Jenkins stays busy writing and recording his own material.
He started his newest project, the Yukon Dreams, during one of his stints in Portland. Jenkins recently finished a new full-length that he is shopping around to labels and hopes to release in the beginning of 2015.
Jenkins’s band Mr. Tube & the Flying Objects has also been busy. The band has already begun mixing their newest full-length, which they hope to release early in 2015.
As for his more popular bands Black Heart Procession and Three Mile Pilot, Jenkins says there are no definite plans.
“The Black Heart Procession stopped playing about three years ago. We didn’t make much noise about it, though, because someday we may do it again. Three Mile Pilot plays an occasional show and has about an album’s worth of unfinished songs that we hope to someday finish.”
Jenkins prefers to stay mum when asked to list the differences between the music scene in Portland and San Diego.
“[Portland’s] a great city with lots going for it, whether that’s outdoors, music, bars, and super nice people. But, I don’t really feel part of a scene and I don’t really pay much attention to those things anyway. There are a lot of music and clubs in Portland. There are a lot in San Diego, too, and everywhere, for that matter. San Diego is where I grew up playing music, so that is where I feel most part of a history tied to a scene. But I like to travel with music.”
Jenkins says it’s likely he will call San Diego home again.
“Well, I’m actually still in San Diego very often, but I think I’ll be back in San Diego more permanently, soon. I miss the friends, the sun, and of course the Mexican food and Latino culture.”