Topeka native spreads wings in Lawrence, prepares to release solo debut in April

Josh Rouse

For Topeka native Tyler Jenkins, music has always been a huge part of life. From humble beginnings playing percussion in school bands, to attempts at high school rock bands, he is now coming into his own as a musician and preparing for the release of his solo debut.

“Remember December,” a collection of acoustic rhythms and personal lyrics, is nearing completion. Jenkins has been recording the album for the past year at Mixtape Soundlab in Lawrence.

“I’m pretty excited for this CD to come out and working with different artists in Lawrence to accomplish what I’ve been working on for the past year,” said Jenkins.

It has been a long and strange journey to this point in his career. Jenkins started playing guitar in high school as a hobby after a brief stint as drummer of “No Relation,” an up and coming band which later became known as “The Yard Art Project.”

After polishing his skills, he played rhythm guitar and lead vocals for “Constantly Waiting.” When that project folded, he went on to join a group in Lawrence, but left due to conflicting interests in genre.

“Then I decided I wanted to do my own thing because we weren’t really playing the style I wanted to play, we were playing heavy metal and stuff like that,” said Jenkins. “I wanted to get my own music out there, so I started playing acoustic guitar and writing my own songs.”

Jenkins started writing music as a way to express his emotions about the things going on in his life. These include girlfriends, break-ups, friendships and his grandfather, who has cancer and recently has had heart problems. He is the inspiration for Jenkins’ song, “DDJ.”

“I started writing ‘DDJ’ shortly after my grandpa was diagnosed and told he had terminal cancer and would be dying soon,” said Jenkins. “I was pretty upset by that. He raised me, since my parents worked full time jobs throughout junior high and high school. Once I hit ninth or tenth grade, it was more for my brother.”

Jenkins admitted that everything he said in the song was very planned out, and didn’t tell the whole story because it was such a personal experience for him. He said that writing about someone dying that was so close to him was a surreal occurrence.

“He was there all the way through my sophomore year,” said Jenkins. “He was the one who got us up in the morning, made us breakfast, got us off the bus and waited until our parents got home. He’s actually the person who got me into playing guitar in the first place.”

One of the first songs Jenkins tried to learn was “Good Riddance” by Green Day. Jenkins said learning that first song was one of the hardest things for him in his career.

“I felt like giving up,” said Jenkins. “I thought it was too hard and my grandpa kept telling me ‘Go back to your room and practice. You’ll get it.'”

After continuous practice, he finally managed to play the song all the way through, and held his first concert for his grandfather in the kitchen.

“I think that’s probably the proudest moment I’ve had in music, because he knew how hard I had to work on it,” he said.

Jenkins plans to set up a tour for the release of the CD in April, with shows in Topeka, Lawrence, Kansas City, Colorado and possibly St. Louis. For more information, visit him at

“I’m very excited, but I’m also excited to move past it and move on to something new,” said Jenkins. “I’m always wanting to make something new and work with different things and maybe change the styles with the next CD.”