The Pack A.D.

"I swear we could hear the ghosts of chickens there"

Illustration by Tyler Crich
Illustration by Tyler Crich


Punky garage-blues duo the Pack A.D.’s latest release Unpersons (which is set for release September 13) will make you want to jump around and swill drinks, slopping cheap beer all over yourself in the process; if you’re underage don’t worry, you don’t actually need the drinks to get you bouncing. Unpersons offers a heavier sound than the group’s previous work, with tracks like “Sirens” honing in on grungy garage roots via Becky Black’s fuzzy riffs and Maya Miller’s boisterous drum beats. The band likewise gets dirty on “8,” an old school punk number infused with Black’s shouts. Discorder recently got the chance to speak with Miller about the album as the busy band was cabbin’ their way to a Toronto airport.

Discorder: It seems like Unpersons went a lot heavier in the rock direction, was this a conscious decision? What inspired you to do so?

Maya Miller: When we started off playing we didn’t really have any direction that we were taking and then basically when we started playing we started figuring out what we actually like to play live. We wanted to be louder, heavier and punkier, and that’s kind of where this album ended up. The only intention was that we wanted to be more garage. It’s been something that we’ve been working towards since the last album. It just seemed like a natural place for us to go.

D: You guys seem like you’ve been pretty busy, you’re in Toronto right now, are you promoting your album?

MM: We came to promote it, but we really came to make a video for one of the songs.

D: How did that end up going?

MM: It was good. The guy who did it is an animator, so basically the video is going to be half live action and half animation with us turning into monsters and surrounded by ghosts—I think it’s going to be pretty cool.

D: You guys recorded this album with Jim Diamond (the White Stripes, Fleshtones etc.). How did you hook up with him and what was that like?

MM: A couple years ago we were looking to play a show in Detroit and we needed to find a band to play with us. A friend of ours in Vancouver—Mike Roche from Thee Manipulators—told us to talk to Jim Diamond, so we sent him a message on MySpace. He said that he really liked our stuff and he came to our show, and then he started showing up to other shows. We started talking about doing a recording, but we already set up doing [2010’s We Kill Comptuers] with someone else, so we had him come on for this album. The funny thing is we really had no clue who we were talking to [originally] and then we found out. It turned out to be a great experience.

D: I heard the recording locations were pretty interesting?

MM: Well, we recorded at the Hive Studios in Vancouver, but we did the mixing at Jim’s studio, Ghetto Recorders, in Detroit, which was really cool; it’s a great old studio. The building used to be a chicken processing plant. I swear we could hear the ghosts of chickens there.

D: How would you guys describe your creative process when making an album?

MM: We tend to set aside the time to make an album: we go to a jam space and just get together and jam things out until it makes a song that we like. I tend to write lyrics away from the jam space and then bring them in.

D: You guys started to become more known around 2008, but when did you start making music together?

MM: Well, we were in another band but we never played any shows or anything. In 2005 we left that band and just started doing this. We didn’t really have any extreme goals but then we got a phone call from a friend who wanted us to play at their BBQ, so it forced us to play our first show. From that, someone [approached us] to record an album, so we came up with 17 songs and recorded our first album [2007’s Tintype] for like a hundred bucks.

D: That’s pretty amazing that it all started from a BBQ. Was music what you always wanted to do?

MM: We just started that band because we thought it would be a fun idea when we were all hanging out one day. We said “lets be a band,” and we did. So that’s when I started playing the drums.

D: You seem to have a pretty dedicated fan base, why do you think that is?

MM: I like to think we’re pretty nice people. We just try and have a fun show and I think a lot of people respond to it. It brings together all types. It’s nice to have a variety of walks of life liking what we do because it seems to make it consistent for sticking with us.

D: What can people expect when they see you perform live?

MM: They can expect to spill their drink. People now tend to do weird things like mosh to our music, which I think comes from people attempting to dance to our music. We put on a loud, hyper show and they can expect a good time. It’s garage rock, pop and punk.

The Pack A.D. play No Limits (68 5th Ave West) as part of the Olio Festival, September 23.