Maybe it’s because the Black Heart Procession play in near darkness or maybe it’s the smoky air of mystery surrounding unassuming leader Pall Jenkins -- whatever the case may be, the San Diego-Portland combo sometimes seems like one of the more unsung outfits to come out of the turn-of-the-millennium indie-rock era.
The black, black heart of the band’s new album, Six (Temporary Residence), drew me in and kept me there, wondering at its bleak appeal. Luckily, Jenkins was there with answers, via e-mail. You’ll get a chance to glean more answers when Black Heart Procession performs Sunday, Nov. 15, at the Independent.
Q: Six seems like a magic number. What does it mean to you, and why title the new album Six?
Pall Jenkins: It’s our sixth record -- it is a very evil number, and we like the imagery behind that.
Q: Would you say Six is going in a darker direction? And wasn't the band rather dark to begin with?
PJ: Yes, we like dark things and thoughts and chocolate, but a little vanilla is good in there, too. I’ve been enjoying rainbow sherbet as well lately. The records will get darker and darker till you can’t see us anymore -- only a rainbow, no pot of gold.
Q: It took several years to make the album -- why was that? What was the recording and writing like?
PJ: Toby lives in Portland, and I live in San Diego, so we had to travel back and forth.
Writing is almost like being in a coma. You wake with very little memory but are glad you made it through.
Q: Ideas of heartbreak, self-destruction and religious iconography have been bandied around in connection with the album. Were those connected to personal experiences?
PJ: Yes, they were. I had a dream that I was god and ruled the world with hands that had pencils as fingers. I drew 10 pictures at once and gave them to 10 prophets, then I killed all those prophets for the hell of it. I woke up and my cigarette had left a burn on my arm. So I got into sleeping pills to not feel the pain.
Q: The cover of Six bears an interesting resemblance to the last Justice album's cover art. Is that a coincidence or not?
PJ: I like the Justice video with the gang kids busting shit up, but I didn’t know the records or art.
Q: What has been going on in your lives?
PJ: I’ve been recording a lot of bands at my studio SDRL. Toby went to jail for grave-robbing in the greater Portland area.
Black Heart Procession perform Sunday, Nov. 15, 8 p.m., at Independent, 628 Divisadero, S.F. Bellini opens. $15. www.theindependentsf.com