Tom Jenkins hails from the hills of the South Wales Valleys, overlooking the post-industrial town of Pontypridd where he resides and works the land on the family sheep farm. A landscape and culture engrained in his identity and sound which is more obvious on the 2020 release ‘When The Coal Dust Settled’, an EP dedicated to his family of coal miners and farmers, sprinkled with working-class pride and the social injustice that comes with the history of this part of the world – though his sound and influences as an artist spread far more broader, like his path in life.
Starting out in the 90s as a TV and media-acclaimed ‘Britain’s Youngest Shepherd’ and appearing alongside the likes of Aussie superstar Jason Donavan on morning television, he was provided with his first taste of live music at the age of 4, setting him on a path outside the world of farming, which was the only life his family were familiar with. By his mid-teens, Jenkins had formed his first band, and under a few name changes, Tom and his school friends would go on to tour with the likes of Motörhead and The Presidents Of The USA, performing at shows and major festivals across Europe and America. After cutting his teeth on the underground rock scene and feeling the strain of being a touring musician, Jenkins would return to his farming roots and worked as a traveling shepherd and sheep shearer, eventually winding up in the New Zealand outback.
Finding himself hidden from the bustle of modern life, Jenkins began to unintentionally write his debut solo album, isolated in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. He would occasionally test new material, playing a few songs in outback pubs, and also to his music-obsessed Māori co-workers in the shearing gangs as they shifted from farm to farm across the back-country of New Zealand.
After returning home, Jenkins sat on his new collection of songs until an old touring friend and American producer, Elijah Ford (Gary Clark Jr, Ryan Bingham, Marc Ford) caught wind of the material and insisted to Tom that they should make an album out of it. After a year of composing songs, planning and saving money, Tom and his band ended up in Fort Worth, Texas in the winter of 2018, ready to track his debut album ‘Misery In Comfort’. After years of playing in loud rock bands, Jenkins would draw influences from folk, indie, dream pop and country and blend it with his life experiences to produce a well-crafted, thought-provoking piece of work, carried by beautiful melodies and storytelling, being labelled “a masterclass in songwriting” by one reviewer. Uninterested with the ins-and-outs of the music industry, and focusing solely on the release of his album, Jenkins self-released Misery In Comfort at the end of 2019, digitally and on a limited run of 100 vinyl and CDs, followed by a DIY tour across the UK – closing the curtain on a wonderful adventure, with no real intention of pursuing a solo career in music and the mindset of subsequently heading back to New Zealand to work.
Fortunately, this wouldn’t be the end of his musical journey. Weeks after the release of MIC, Jenkins was invited by Grammy and Oscar-winning singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham to join him on his tour of Ireland across January 2020 – a surreal situation, with Tom classing Bingham as a huge influence, and having only recently found himself in the crowd at one of his shows. With a newfound confidence, and a resurrected love for touring, Jenkins would return back to Wales for a sold-out headline show, accompanied by his songs being playlisted for several weeks on BBC Radio Wales.
Unfortunately Covid would derail best-laid future plans, but Jenkins didn’t intend to waste any time. During long periods of isolation on the family farm, he converted an old barn into a basic home studio and started writing, recording and producing new material, working remotely with Elijah Ford via the power of the internet. By October 2020, Tom entered a local studio with life-long friend and producer Todd Campbell, where they tracked the second album in full by the end of that year. Taking full advantage of the ‘new norm’ of collaborating online, with guest appearances from Phil Campbell (Motörhead), Marc Ford (The Black Crowes) and Paul Mullen (YOURCODENAMEIS:MILO, The Automatic), what remained was an incredibly diverse body of music.
After sitting on the album for almost a year, briefly side-tracked by a foray into potato farming, Tom has signed with independent label Xtra Mile Recordings (Frank Turner, Against Me!, Skinny Lister). Tom Jenkins’ second album ‘It Comes In The Morning, It Hangs In The Evening Sky’will be released at the end of 2022, following festival appearances in the UK and Europe, along with 17 shows with Label friends Skinny Lister across the UK in November and December.