Changing the band’s name from The Muslims to The Soft Pack didn’t really minimize the shock value. Makes you wonder who would choose such odd names? Google the group’s name and you’ll learn that most of them grew up together in San Diego before they became a respected minimalist indie rock band. SF Station spoke with Matt Lamkin (vocals/guitar) in a phone interview. The Soft Pack will play at Rickshaw Stop on November 9th.
(THIS INTERVIEW IS REPUBLISHED FROM SF STATION, but WRITTEN BY SFCRITIC)
SF Station (SFS): You and Matty (guitar) have known each other for quite a while?
Matt Lamkin (ML): Matty and I went to the same high school. Dave (bass) and I were friends since we were kids. Matty and I started hanging out when we were in college.
SFS: Now that you spend so much time together touring, have you noticed any new eccentricities about them?
ML: They’re totally full of weird quirks, but I knew that all before. Matty is kind of an insomniac, which comes into play when you’re tired on tour. Brian talks to himself and to things about people sometimes. Dave is a good snowboarder.
SFS: What is yours?
ML: I guess I’m kind of an asshole when I’m hungover or under-slept.
SFS: Are you referencing now?
ML: No, I slept a little bit.
SFS: You and Matty used to work at a pizza joint, and that’s where the video to “Answer To Yourself” was shot. Do you have any other creative projects like that lined up?
ML: No, the next creative thing we’re working on is the next album. After that, I’m going to try and do most of the videos and art stuff. We started out doing that but then we had a lot on our plate so we had to dish it out to other people. Now things have slowed down, so we’re going to take a little more time and do more of it ourselves in terms of production, artwork, and videos.
SFS: You have some film background, correct?
ML: Yeah, I studied film and video in college at UCSD.
SFS: I imagine it’s hard to let someone else take control of your own creative projects when it’s your baby.
ML: Yeah, it kind of sucked. It’s already difficult to make the band represent us. So when other people are involved, if that’s important for it to represent you, you kind of lose that.
SFS: I’ve heard your singing described as a drawl and unenthused. What’s the meaning behind that?
ML: Well, for the most part it all started with seeing local bands that were trying to bite off more than they could chew. Trying to write these great pop songs, or great complicated rock songs with all these parts, and it always failed miserably. I was like, “Fuck this, I’m going to find a part that works, and just repeat it for three minutes.” I think we might be slightly straying from that now.
SFS: Straying from that consciously?
ML: In the beginning it was out of necessity. Maybe on the second album it was conscious to stay that way. It was a structure. Now we’re like, “Fuck the structure, whatever happens.”
SFS: On the second album you’ve described the production value as “hi-fi.”
ML: Well, we’ve always been going as high as we could. The first album that’s just all [the equipment] we had. The first album was recorded by our friend John Green in his house with his computer and some stuff. It wasn’t really a studio.
SFS: When did you guys decide you had to change your name from the Muslims?
ML: We were getting borderline death threats over the Internet.
SFS: From what types of groups?
ML: We were getting stupid racist comments from dumb white trash people. We were getting MySpace messages from Muslim people all over the world. We never intended it to be a joke or anything like that. We never expected to get that much press.
SFS: Do you guys ever carry around a soft pack?
ML: No, but I’m planning on getting one. I was thinking about putting one on the hood of the van.
SFS: People would know you were coming into town at least.
ML: Might have to change our name to the hard pack.
The Soft Pack perform at Rickshaw on November 9th. Tickets are $12. The performance begins at 8pm.