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Interview: The Pack A.D. To Storm Empty Bottle

By Casey Moffitt in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 5, 2014 8:15PM

Photo credit: Catie Lafoon

The Pack A.D. is making its way across Canada and stopping in the U.S. for three dates on the heels of the latest studio effort Do Not Engage released in January on Nettwerk Records. We caught up with the Vancouver-based duo's explosive drummer, Maya Miller, as The Pack A.D. makes it way to Chicago for a performance at the Empty Bottle Thursday night, and looking for a little warmth oddly enough.

"Some of the (Canadian) prairies we're driving through are like -25 with a -50 wind chill," Miller said. "It's just nuts. Do you know if they're expecting any snow in Chicago next week?"

The Pack A.D. has made a name for itself as a hard-touring act, but Miller said it's been too long since the pair have visited Chicago.

"We were there about 18 months ago, so it's been a little while," she said. "So far, things are going really well (on the road). It's good to be back on the road. We've basically spent the last year getting ready for this tour."

As a guitar and drum duo, The Pack A.D. usually gets tagged as a garage/punk act, but on Do Not Engage they stretch themselves past that and delve into some studio trickery. The album is loaded with layers of guitars, hand claps and even the Roland Space Echo can be heard on a track. Miller said the pair made a conscious decision to use what the studio offers a bit more on this release than in the past.

"We took some liberties this time around," she explained. "An album is lot different from a show, and I think we gave ourselves permission to think that way on this album. On 'The Flight,' I recorded the drum riff and then we looped it. That's something we never did before, but we did it this time because we can and it worked. Not everything on the recording has to be faithful, but we still want to be able to reproduce it on stage.

"On other albums, we didn't allow ourselves to do that," Miller continued. "We got away from what we thought we should do and moved to what we want to do this time. I think we were getting there on the previous album, but we let ourselves go there this time."

Do Not Engage was recorded in two different sessions with producer Jim Diamond—one was done in Detroit and the other in Vancouver. Miller said there were no expectations as to what was to come from the sessions, but it worked out as a cohesive album the pair were happy to release as such.

"We thought that maybe this wasn't going to be an album," she said. "We recorded two times in two different cities and we weren't sure if it would form itself into one record. But we took a relaxed approach, changed it a little bit and that made it more enjoyable."

Although The Pack A.D. took a few more liberties in the studio this time around, Miller said the approach to writing songs remains the same.

"The main thing is that we enjoy playing what we're playing. Our only goal is to like the things we're coming up with," she said. "We came up with a bunch of songs for this record. Some really worked and others didn't."

Miller said she and guitarist/singer Becky Black know pretty quickly whether a song is going to materialize as they write.

"Anything that we labor on, or goes through a couple changes - we end up dropping," she said. "You know almost instantly when it feels right. Sometimes we start jamming and that's it. We've got a song. We might tweak it a little bit, but it's mainly there. Anything that we have to force usually gets rejected.

"Although on 'Animal' we actually worked on it quite a bit," she said. "We recorded that one twice and made some changes to it. But that's very rare for us."

Overall, Miller described the latest release as a natural evolution in the band's sound. "I think it's more of the same that we've been doing, but it's more focussed," she said. "I'm still pretty happy with it. We always want to get better, but as we spend more time with it, I still feel happy with it. I like we're it's all going."

Miler said anyone going to the show can expect the band to focus on a lot of them new material, and have a good time.

"Well, you'll get to see us," she said. "We'll both be sweating and moving and rocking out. It should be fun, so we hope to see everyone there."

The Pack A.D. performs Thursday, March 6, with Nonnie Parry and The Ex-Bombers at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 9 p.m. . $10, 21+