NXNE: Ten Questions with The Soft Pack

The Soft Pack self-sitled cover art.

After playing buzz-worthy sets at both CMJ and SXSW, The Soft Pack are rolling through Toronto and bringing their rollicking garage-rock meets post-punk sound along with them. They recently released a great full-length through Kemado Records as well as a box-set of seven inches. I got to throw some questions their way via email, and here’s what guitarist Matty McLoughlin had to say.

You guys have been a band for a few years, and even went through a name change recently. Can you give us a quick run-down on the history of the band and how you all got together?

Matt Lamkin and I (Matty McLoughlin) started the band as The Muslims. We played our first shows in January of 2007. We had a rotating cast of bass players and drummers until Brian Hill (drums) and David Lantzman (bass) joined in January of 2008. We changed  our name in November of 2008 to The Soft Pack due to the fact that being called The Muslims was like, the biggest pain in the ass ever.The Soft Pack in the past have gotten lumped in with the “The Smell” scene, your sound being similarly garage-rock but with post-punk influences. The new album isn’t the kind of lo-fi record some people may come to expect from that genre these days, was it a conscious decision to not go that route?

We are friends with and have played shows with a few of the bands that came out of that “Smell scene” but we definitely aren’t a Smell band. We have only played that place like 4 times. We definitely made a conscious decision to try to make a more clean sounding record going into it. We didn’t want it to be lofi nor did we want it to be too glossy or boring sounding.

Your new record (Self-Titled) was produced by Eli Janney, who played in a great post-hardcore/indie band called Girls Against Boys. Are you guys fans of GVSB, and how did you hook up with him as producer?

I think Brian was the only one in the band that had heard Girls Against Boys prior to us getting together with Eli. Eli produced our friends band Obits and we love that record. We met him at an Obits concert and he told one of us that he was going to do our record. We liked his confidence and charm too.

How did the recording process go with Eli?

We really enjoyed working with Eli. He recorded the whole band playing together and there weren’t too many overdubs done. We were trying to capture more of our “live band” sound. As Eli would say “Grip it and RIP IT!!!!!”………..kidding, he never said that.

You released a box-set of 7-Inch records recently, are vinyl records something you strive to continually support as a band?

We like vinyl but we also like everything else. We listen to cd’s, tapes, mp3’s.  We did the 7 inch box set for Record Store Day. Matt and his girlfriend did all of the art work for it. I thought it looked cool.

Brian stands while he’s drumming, and doesn’t make use of any hi-hats from what I’ve seen from live videos. Any specific reasoning behind that?

The cocktail kit he plays is really cheap and and light in weight. A regular drum kit is heavy and sucks to carry around. It is also kind of a visual gimmick that he stole from Zach from Kill Me Tomorrow, this band we like from San Diego.

Not every band gets the chance to perform as a musical act on Late Night with David Letterman, but in February you guys did. How was that experience for the band, any interesting behind the scenes stories?

Playing on Letterman was a really cool thing for us. We are fans of Dave and were scared shitless beforehand. I think I started the song 14 times faster than we normally play it. Everyone who works there was really nice to us as well. No really crazy behind the scenes stories though… Except that we met Jeff Bridges (the guest that night) and he invited us back to his place to party afterwards. It was FUCKING CRAZY. I mean balls out wild. Na, that didn’t happen. It would rule if it did.

I also read that your song “Answer to Yourself” ended up being the final song to be streamed on woxy.com before it succumbed to financial road blocks. How does it feel to have your song be the final track on something of a legendary outlet for independant and alternative music?

We definitely felt honored to be the last thing they played.

What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live show?
Throw up music.

When you come through Toronto for NXNE, are there any bands that you’re looking forward to seeing?

Cold Cave. The Zeros, Avi Buffalo, Women, Les Savy Fav, and The Stooges are wicked cool.

The Soft Pack are playing The Silver Dollar on the 17th, The Garrison on the 18th, and Yonge & Dundas Square as well as Lee’s Palace on the 19th. So you have lots of opportunities to see them play, and therefore no excuse to not check them out!!

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