The Pack A.D. :: Do Not Engage Certainly Engaging


by Victoria King

Fortunate are those in the indie rock game who progress at a steady pace. There’s a small number of bands that find a happy medium between blowing up too fast and surfing under the radar.  With their fifth full-length release, Do Not Engage, it’s fair to say that the Pack A.D. is one of the fortunate ones. Fortune’s not the only enabling factor to their success though. Since their first release in 2007, dedication and knowledge from experience have both played a part. 

Lead vocalist and guitarist Becky Black explains, “We finished this album a year ago . . . We just decided to relax for a bit, take our time with this one.”

After four previous releases off Vancouver label Mint Records, Do Not Engage is the Pack A.D.’s latest effort and the first to be released from their newfound home at Nettwerk Records. “The main difference to me [between Nettwerk and Mint] is that there’s a lot more staff so it’s definitely a different situation. But we recorded and finished everything on our own dime. We finished our contract with Mint, so we were going to shop around to license it to someone. But [then] Nettwerk contacted us. It seemed like a good fit,” Black relays.

If you’re a long-standing Pack A.D. fan it won’t take you long to hear the different sound of their new album. Do Not Engage is more polished and shows more craftsmanship. The duo wrote the album in their Vancouver space over the course of a month or two. Roughly one-third of the album was recorded in producer Jim Diamond’s (the White Stripes, the Mooney Suzuki) studio in Detroit while the rest was finished in Vancouver; two sessions spaced roughly six months apart.

Becky and drummer Maya Miller’s sound reaffirm that the same aggression and passion are still there, but also something new for this band: choruses. “On our last album we ended up writing some songs that actually had choruses which is a normal thing for most bands but new for us . . . so that was a change in the last one and we just kind of went with that.”

Songs like “Needles” might actually make you do a double take (in a good way). “That one was just one that I wrote and the drums weren’t working for it,” recalls Black. “Usually all of our songs are the two of us, and that one is just me alone.”

In between albums, Pack A.D. have made some big guest appearances. both on NBC’s Last Call with Carson Daily and opening for the Arctic Monkeys for two nights. “That was good,” Black says. “It was a really good crowd. That one was really last minute, apparently they weren’t even going to have an opening band and then the promoter contacted [our] management.”

The Pack has held its own in a market that’s been criticized for a lack of gender-diversity. As Becky can attest, there are still some stigmas out there when it comes to women in rock music. “I wouldn’t say that [the indie music scene] is unwelcoming, I think we’ve somewhat progressed as a society,” she laughs. “The funny thing is . . . rock ‘n roll is perceived as this aggressive manly form of music, which I just don’t really understand where that comes from. Music is music . . . but a lot of people are like, ‘Whoa, that’s pretty loud for women’ like women are quiet? I don’t really know. It’s weird to me. I always wish that there wasn’t the distinction, like it didn’t matter that it was  women or men but rather, just people.”

Expect some gusto and fresh energy from the band – currently, it’s the longest break they’ve had from touring. “Most of 2013 was spent at home. It’s kind of been nice having a break and it also makes it so I’m more interested to go out on the road instead of being completely burnt out.”

The Pack A.D. head out on an extensive tour at the end of January until mid-April. They’ll  be making a stop in Winnipeg at the Park Theatre on March 4th – do yourself a favor and get tickets before they sell out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *