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Do Not Engage: The Pack A.D. Bring Riffs And Hooks On Album Five

Thursday, 01 May 2014 Written by Huw Baines

Becky Black and Maya Miller play the sort of unfussy rock ‘n’ roll that’ll never really go out of style. ‘Do Not Engage’, out next week, is their fifth album as The Pack A.D. in eight years and is another fine exercise in doing what you want, whenever the hell you want to do it.

It’s rare that the duo aren’t touring, writing or recording, with the three seemingly intertwined most of the time. Album five offers a glimpse of a more refined sound, with Miller adding backing vocals to Black's leads and a few more chorus melodies to hang your hat on. It certainly doesn’t come across like a record thrown together in haste, as their prolific nature might suggest.

“We’ve always toured a lot and I think part of that is that playing the same songs over and over again makes you always want to write new material,” Black said. “I get bored really easily and I see all the flaws in everything. I’m like: 'I can probably do better next time.' So I just keep writing.”

Big Shot, Creepin’ Jenny and Battering Ram are huge slices of blues-indebted rock, but all three also owe something to the world of pop. For Black, that’s just something that happened along the way - there are plenty of meaty hooks, but it’s still easy to imagine her carrying a distortion pedal at all times.

“You could call it pop in some ways, at least some of the songs,” she said. “We tend to sort of jump around genre-wise, but I guess we wrote some catchier choruses, with a little bit more of a pop mentality or whatever. It wasn’t necessarily intentional but that’s how it came out. I guess I never think about what kind of music I’m gonna write until it happens.”

The band have been beset by easy comparisons - to the White Stripes, Black Keys and any other two-piece you can think up - since their earliest rumblings. In fact, the Village Voice recently got them to pick their favourite songs by the groups that they have been lumped in with. Most of the time, Black’s cool with it.

“I don’t think the comparison is entirely accurate, but I don’t think it’s really a bad thing either,” she said. “It can be irritating when people are like: ‘Oh, you’re just like this or that.’ Just because there’s two of us, I don’t think that the music is that similar.

“It can be kinda nice in a lot of ways because some people that have discovered us have done because they like those other bands. It’s not a bad thing to get compared to anyone, especially if they’re good bands.”

Something else that won’t go away is the fact that The Pack A.D. are, like many others, almost constantly referred to as a ‘girl band’, an unnecessary and reductive label.

“I don’t think that’s necessarily going to go away in our lifetime, but hopefully,” Black said. “That would be nice. Especially in the music industry, it’s quite lopsided and it always gets mentioned. It’s never just ‘a two-piece’ or ‘rock band’, it’s ‘two girls in a band’, like that’s a distinction on its own. I really don’t think there should be a big difference, whether you’re male or female or where you’re from. Music is universal and should stand on its own.”

The Pack A.D. Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed May 7 2014 - LONDON Garage

Click here to compare & buy The Pack A.D. Tickets at Stereoboard.com.



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