Lauren Jenkins on Independence and Getting Back on the Road

“It really means more than I can express every time someone plays one of my songs for someone, whether they’re buying it or streaming it.  That puts gas in...

“It really means more than I can express every time someone plays one of my songs for someone, whether they’re buying it or streaming it.  That puts gas in my tank,” says Lauren Jenkins.  Jenkins is a heartland rocker who seems to live the life of an always-impeccably-styled Americana vagabond.  Of her influences, she casually, yet definitively, tells me, “Springsteen and his storytelling is one, and then Lucinda Williams, Tom Petty, John Prine, and Norah Jones, I suppose.”  I’m chatting with her via cell phone, from the road, where (according to her Twitter) she’s bounced between, “New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina… all in 48 hours….”

Lauren Jenkins did a bit of reinventing of her musical career during the pandemic.  2020 saw her part ways with Big Machine Records, who released her debut LP, No Saint, in 2019.  By that March she had dropped “Ain’t That Hard,” her first song released completely independently.  She tells me that she definitely prefers this way of making music, which seems a lot more conducive to her ultimate goal: “I made a decision that I only wanted people in my corner, or on my team, that actually wanted to be there, so I know they’re wanting to be part of the story I want to tell.  On No Saint there were some recordings that I couldn’t do the way I wanted to, because I was told, ‘No.’  So, it’s really nice not having to fight with anyone, I suppose, other than me [laughs].”

Earlier this month Lauren Jenkins put out Miles On Me, Part 1, the first of a three-part collection of EPs.  According to Jenkins, the first part of this trilogy picks up where No Saint left off, but totally on her own terms: “We’re trying to get every song to sound as close to a masterpiece as possible.”  She also tells me that she likes the idea of having multiple volumes to her latest release: “I like releasing music in three parts.  It started formulating that way in my mind, naturally, so there’s a reason the songs are in the parts they’re in.”  And in terms of what can be expected of the next volume, she tells me, “On Part 2, there’s at least one song people have not heard before.  And, if you’ve been watching the Livingroom concerts, there’s a fan favorite.  Also, Part 2 has a lot of energy.”

These “Livingroom concerts” (numerous of which can be found on her YouTube page) were Lauren’s way of attempting to cope with the pandemic and not being allowed to tour: “The idea came about because I’ve been playing shows since I was 15 wherever I could… at the end of the bar, or whatever [laughs], but with the pandemic I was like, ‘I guess I gotta play through the computer now,’ and people kept tuning in and people kept listening.  There were times when I was doing 10 or 12 of them per week.  It’s not my favorite way to perform, but the idea that there were people watching it from Europe and Australia while I was playing in my livingroom was pretty cool.”  Lauren Jenkins is currently on the road, playing any shows she can in any format she can, and she’s hoping to play as many places as possible: “We’re not back to full-on tour mode yet, but I’m happy anytime I get a chance to play not on a computer screen [laughs]…  There’s nothing like the real thing.  I saw Springsteen on Broadway two nights ago and I had goosebumps and tears were welling up before it even started.”

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.