Jason Falkner Goes Softcore With Manning, Reitzell

Singer/songwriter re-teams with 'Logan's Sanctuary' duo to create Gary Numan-inspired synth-pop.

Workaholic singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jason Falkner, soon to be heard on Air's long-awaited LP 10,000 Hz Legend, is once again up to his elbows in projects, including one reuniting him with a former bandmate.

Dubbed Softcore, the mini-supergroup finds Falkner playing alongside Beck/Moog Cookbook keyboardist Roger Manning Jr., with whom he worked in the candy-colored power-pop band Jellyfish, who scored a small hit in 1990 with "Baby's Coming Back." "Every time I would run into Roger, we would say, 'We should do something post-all-the-Jellyfish drama,' " Falkner said.

Additional seeds were sown by Falkner's work with a more recent collaborator, ex-Redd Kross drummer Brian Reitzell. Having crossed paths in Air's atmosphere — Reitzell played on the band's score for "The Virgin Suicides" and also appears on the French duo's next LP — the drummer invited Falkner to sing on Logan's Sanctuary, a faux-soundtrack album concocted by himself and Manning.

"It was so much fun, we said, 'We should do this again. Do something early Gary Numan and just take it to an extreme,' " Falkner explained. "[Softcore is] definitely kind of a nod to late-'70s synth-power-pop, like early Cars, but more angular and cold. So I guess it's sort of more British.

"Some of it's a nod to early Heaven 17 or Duran Duran, but none of us wanted to make it a joke record, like, 'Look at those guys reliving their John Hughes period.' I think it's a very original record, but it has nods in those directions."

Falkner said Softcore is currently trying to decide "the scope of the thing" before committing to a record deal — the band is shopping labels and has one offer on the table — or to live shows.

"I don't think we are going to go play Branson, Missouri, or anything. People would be upset," Falkner said, laughing. "We'll definitely play some dates when the record is released."

In other Falkner news, obsessive collectors will be turning to Japan in March when a double-disc B-sides/rarities compilation, Everyone Says It's On, is released on Airmail Records. One disc comprises a previously unreleased all-covers album recorded by Falkner at the tail-end of his tenure with the Grays, which also featured Jon Brion.

"I did it in '94, so some of it is kind of old for me," he said, "so I included a newer cover of a Left Banke song ['Pretty Ballerina'] and a cover of 'Photograph' by Def Leppard that I did for a metal compilation [1998's 'Metal Rulz']. Some of the other covers are Joni Mitchell's 'Both Sides Now' and [Brian] Eno's 'Burning Airlines.' I'm sure it will make it over here as an import."

The other Everyone disc features a smattering of songs Falkner recorded at home. Some of these tracks will be combined with more unreleased home recordings for a domestic compilation, "Necessity - The 4-Track Years," which is scheduled to be released on spinART Records in April.

Even with the flurry of releases in the pipeline — and just weeks away from going in for shoulder surgery — Falkner was busy in a friend's studio working on new material.

"I'm super-excited, because I have a bunch of great new solo things," Falkner said. "I'm trying to do five or six songs before I'm laid out for two months, so I can be shopping while I'm down."