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Pack A.D. - Interview

  by Paul Waller

published: 4 / 12 / 2010

Pack A.D. - Interview


Paul Waller speaks to Becky Black from Vancouver-based female guitar/drums duo the Pack A.D. about their just released album, 'We Kill Computers' and the benefits of playing as a two-piece

Vancouver’s the Pack A.D. have just finished their recent UK tour with fellow Canadians NoMeansNo in support of the band's third full length record, 'We Kill Computers'. During the second night of the tour en route to Leeds, Pennyblackmusic caught up with vocalist and guitarist Becky Black as she sat in the passenger seat whilst drummer Maya Miller found herself stuck behind the wheel, another victim of the British winter on the roads with traffic jam followed by further traffic jams. PB: You’re currently on the road with NoMeansNo, a band with a totally different set up and dynamic than yourselves. How has that been going so far? BB: It’s been great. It’s actually our third time on the road with them and we’ve had a good time. It’s going well. Last night was the first show in the UK. It went really well in London. It was a totally packed house and everyone seemed to having a good time. Tonight is in Leeds but we are currently running late. We got caught in traffic and we are still on our way. PB: You were both playing in a traditional band line up many moons ago and then broke free from that set up to form the Pack. How did that come about? BB: Our band was a summer project that didn’t really turn out so well. I don't know. It just didn’t mesh and the other two in the band wanted to end it. Me and Maya were still writing songs at the time. We were getting together secretly and doing our own thing so it was just a natural progression to it being just the two of us, but a little while after that we decided that maybe we should get a bass player and still we just haven’t acted upon that and I don’t think we ever will. PB: The kids from your local scene see you get signed by Mint and you start to release some pretty awesome records. Did those same fans keep following you as fame came or like most bands that reach that plateau did you have to start again from scratch? BB: It’s still pretty good in Vancouver. When we started we didn’t know if we were going to take it seriously or not. A friend of ours had a barbeque and asked us if we wanted to play so we played. That was our first show and we had a good response and we kept getting good responses from the gigs we played after that so, yeah, Vancouver has been really helpful to us, we still have a good following there when we get to play hometown shows… every once in a while. We are not home very often though. Maybe there was a little bit of bitterness, I think that happens anywhere though, it’s a natural reaction when someone has discovered you and then a load more people discover you. “I don’t like it now everybody else likes it.” It’s the same mentality as someone not wanting to see a movie that everyone else is raving about because they didn’t discover it. PB: How did the deal with Mint Records come about? BB: it was about seven or eight months after we started, maybe longer than that. They signed us in 2007 and we had already released an album before that. We did a Canadian tour after the release of that and they then decided to come on board, it was kind of a surprise considering what is on the rest of their roster. I was like, “Really, you wanna sign us?” But it worked out really well and they have been really good to us and they re-released our album, 'Tintype', for us that we had originally released ourselves. They have been so good. PB: You play an extraordinary amount of live shows per year; being just the two of you day in day out and spending most of your daily lives together don’t you get to the point where you just want to kill each other? BB: I think it’s almost easier in a way with having just two people. If you have three, four or five people in a band, people tend to team up and gang up on each other. Bad things happen that way too but you can’t do that with only two people. If things get to that point we would just be quiet for the whole day with long silences. We know each other pretty well at this point and we know how to work through things if there is a problem. We have a pretty good arrangement going on; because there are only two of us we have no choice but to get over our problems. PB: Do you feel that being a duo, especially in the studio that you could do with expanding to a three of a four piece to expand on the band's musical pallet. BB: Well, I like having just the two people. It’s good for playing live, and I can’t imagine playing with a bunch of other members and staying on track. We tend to change rhythms and go off on tangents and with two of us we just catch on. With more people it wouldn’t work. As far as studio work goes on our last record, 'Funeral Mixtape', I overdubbed some guitars and some tambourine but I like how it limiting having only the two people and at the same time you can really do a lot with it. PB: Now that you have a full time manager, do you feel that has shaken up the band dynamic a bit? BB: Not really because he doesn’t go on the road with us. He is always in Vancouver and we only meet with him once in a while. I don't know. He is kind of like the band Dad. We played this show at a festival, we had far too many drinks with too many people that were there so we were drunk when we played and our gear stopped working and he was there for that show and it was a little embarrassing and he told us off. The next day it was a bit of a train wreck and he told us to not drink before an important show and you now we don’t even drink that much but we did get a slap on the hand though. PB: Perhaps you deserved it? B: Yeah, just a little bit. PB: Is it what you wanted out of life when you were younger, travelling the world and playing music? BB: No, I never thought that it would be what I want to do but now I am doing it, well, it’s exactly what I want to do. I don’t know what I wanted out of life when I was young, I knew I would be creative and music happens to be one outlet of that. I like to write and draw too; I spend a lot of time in the passenger seat which affords me a lot of time to do these things so it’s all good. PB: The new record, 'We Kill Computers', has many different moods on it, in places, whilst keeping linear sonics it does feel schizophrenic in places musically. Was that the plan from the off? BB: Yeah, it was partially that but for us the second record seemed a little slow. It seemed to drag on so this time we wanted to include some really spazzy songs. In a weird way I think it’s the most accurate album that describes what we are in general anyway. It’s just how we play live anyway but our first album is pretty schizophrenic too with the piano tracks. Because it was our first album we wanted to record as many tracks as we could and we put 17 songs on a CD and tried to sell it. PB: Well, the new record contains an almost straight pop song in 'Crazy'; can we expect more of the same from you? BB: I have no idea what we are going to be doing next, I know we are going to be recording in February which is pretty soon so as soon as we come back from tour whatever we come up with musically will be on our new record. It may be completely different. Maybe there will be violin there. I don't know (Laughs). Maybe not... Probably not. It will most probably be along the same lines. The only song we have ever written with a chorus is 'Crazy' and I don’t know if we will ever do that again. It was kind of a weird decision on my part. I wrote that song with too many lyrics and I needed to catch my breath when we play it live. PB: Thank you.

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Pack A.D. - Interview

Pack A.D. - Interview

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Pack A.D. - Interview

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Do Not Engage (2014)
Passionate and powerful fifth album from Canadian garage rock duo, the Pack A.D.
We Kill Computers (2010)
Tintype (2010)
Funeral Mixtape (2008)

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