It is obvious that two piece bands have rocketed past the novelty stage and become full-fledged forces in the music industry. You can thank the White Stripes or the Black Keys for starting this “trend” of small bands making big sounds.
As with music trends of the past, record labels would clamor to get any band to fit that mold and sign them. As time passed the real players stuck around while the not-so-good bands went back to their day jobs. And while they didn’t get the recognition of the White stripes or the Black Keys, Canada’s The Pack A.D. are the real deal and are here to stay.
Maybe the Pack A.D. were overlooked because they are on a small Canadian label — Mint Records — or maybe because they are, well, from Canada. But the Pack A.D. is a force of its own which has been rocking their blend of electric blues meets alternative rock since 2006.
“We were in another band and when that band ended we just kept going,” drummer/singer Maya Miller said of how she formed the band with guitarist/singer Becky Black. “Originally we were just The Pack but then we added the A.D. because we kept getting booted off MySpace as there’s another, The Pack, but we prefer to still just call ourselves The Pack in person.”
Black and Miller quickly made a name for themselves around Vancouver and were signed to Mint Records in 2007. With the support of a record label the Pack A.D. released four albums in two years beginning with their debut, Tintype.
“They gave us money to record, so that was swell, Miller said of signing with Mint Records. “ We recorded our first album with a friend for like 100 bucks. We only record so much because we both get bored and there’s less people to coordinate with so it can happen quicker.”
Since the duo share writing duties, the song writing process is also much quicker, even if their process is much different.
“We both write but in two different styles. I tend to write away from the band space. Becky tends to free form while we come up with songs. She’ll often come up with one verse and part of a chorus and then I’ll finish writing it or I’ll just come up with a song entirely and then she’ll adjust slightly to make it singable. But there’s no set program — much like how we come up with the music. Often times neither of us can even remember who came up with what.”
Not to be pigeon-holed as “another two piece blues rock band,” Black and Miller toured extensively and explored new sound options for their band. Still rooted heavily in the blues rock vein, they have also dabbled with punk and garage rock which can be heard on last year’s We Kill Computers.
“It’s more like we get that aforementioned boredom. The one thing we know is that we have more fun when we’re louder and faster,” Miller said of the bands exploration of sound.
With their latest — Unpersons, — the Pack A.D. come out blazing with tribal drum beats, fuzz overload of guitar and some of their best lyrics to date. Right from the drop of the needle on “Sirens” Black and Miller come at you and don’t let up for 13 songs.
Since their debut, Black and Miller have not only matured as a band but as individual musicians. Unpersons are a great record, but it wouldn’t be this good if they recorded it four years ago.
“Size wise we’ve actually shrunk. I feel taller but I don’t think it’s quite the same as actually being taller. That aside, I think that we’ve just gotten less concerned with what people will think of us, which helps a lot when coming up with new songs. We’re having a good time doing what we like to do and if people like it to then we think that’s the ultimate bonus. “
Another bonus for the Pack A.D. is the two girls are whip smart and well-read as the title of their new album might indicate. The title, Unpersons is reference to the book “1984” by George Orwell, of which both were fond. And without being overtly feminist, no doubt a reference to being women in music as well.
The end result is Unpersons, a flawlessly-performed record which projects all the snarl, venom, and vitriol heard on their first three albums into a realm that is distinctly their own. Any reference one may wish to make to The Kills or White Stripes is no longer relevant.