The Pack A.D. Switch Gears

The Pack A.D. Interview
The Pack A.D. photo by Mark Maryanovich

One of the hardest rocking duos in Vancouver, The Pack A.D. have only gotten more outlandish as their albums continue to impress. For their latest album Dollhouse the band switched from a two year writing period two barely two months and it was exactly what they needed. Bringing just as much political commentary as hard-hitting rock this time around, the duo even has a healthy dose of more intimate and stripped back songs as well, showing a band that’s ready to evolve. We caught up with guitarist and vocalist Becky Black to talk about their streamlined writing process, novel ideas and how politics shaped the record.

Northern Transmissions: Looking at this theme from the other side, how did you want to tackle the current political climate on this record?

Becky Black: It’s somewhat political but nothing super literal. It wasn’t even a plan like “We’re going to write a political album,” it just sort of arose. Speaking of the political climate, our neighbouring friends are having an interesting situation and it’s on everyone’s minds. Not only that but the greater problem that we have is our environmental climate, that’s something that we’ve continuously ignored and not dealt with in the way we need to.

NT: Considering you recorded this record in the midst of some of the worst B.C. wildfires, was there an attempt to try and translate this chaos and dread to the record?

BB: Possibly. It felt like at the time that multiple not so great things, and those things definitely inspired the lyrics and feel of the album.

NT: It also feel like you guys have evolved your sound even more on this record, was this a conscious effort through the writing process or was a producer part of the magic too?

BB: Yeah we’ve worked with Jesse over… well our entire career as a band basically, so we work really well with him. He’s evolved over the year too in his abilities so when we get together we become a really great trio. We are a duo but in the studio we’re a trio.

NT: As always you guys have a fun mix of literary inspiration on this record like Thomas Hardy, were these books you were reading at the time or just felt in tune with the songs?
Sometimes.
BB: On our last record, it didn’t make it on the album, but it was a song based on the book “Ubik” (Philip K. Dick) and I was reading it at the time. Thomas Hardy is one of my favourite writers though, so that was something that was probably coming for a while now. We both read a lot, and we spend a lot of time in a vehicle where one of us is driving and one of us is reading. It all influences our writing.

NT: In contrast to your vicious live shows, this album also has some of your most soft and tender songs to date, where did this direction come from?

BB: We’ve recorded a lot of slower songs over the years and we always record more than what we put on the album. So we’ve had a lot of these songs left out over the years. We tend to not put them on the album because we prefer live to be a rocking band and play all the loud stuff, that’s just how we are. It just seemed hard to insert some of those softer tunes with our rowdy stuff. This time we were happy with what we had. In fact this time we didn’t even record any extra songs, so these are all the songs we had recorded. We didn’t really have the option of not putting them on.

Looking at the time to make it too, you spent a mere 2 weeks as opposed to the 2 years of Positive Thinking, was this an attempt to shift things a little?

BB: I don’t know if we’d ever write anything outside of our realm. Every album has its own feel. This one was really fun to do so quickly, instead of labouring over it. It made us enjoy the process more.

Words by Owen Maxwell