INTERVIEW: The Soft Pack; ex-The Muslims (video)

Interview with Matty McLoughlin of The Soft Pack (formerly known as the Muslims). This interview was conducted right after Thanksgiving, but I have been too slammed to put it up on the web.

Parade of Flesh: First obvious, almost obligatory question:  Why the abrupt name change from The Muslims to The Soft Pack; and any significance it was announced the day before Thanksgiving?
Matty McLoughlin:  We decided to change the name because we were sick of it. Sick of questions, jihad comments, basically everything about it. It became a total nuisance. We didn’t care about it, were excited to change it. No significance on the announcement, we had (wanted) to change it for a year now but all of the names we came up with were terrible. The only one we got excited about was The Soft Pack.

POF:  Are fans to expect any changes in line-up or the overall sound with The Soft Pack?
MM: No lineup changes. The first record was done by Matt (Lamkin) and I. Brian (Lantzman) and David (Hill) joined in January of this year. Right now we are working on new material and it is much more of a collaborative process. The sound and songs are getting better.

POF: “The sound and songs are getting better” . . . In what ways do you think it has improved?
MM: Brian and David bring great ideas and open things up for what Matt and I can do. We can do whatever we want. We have been playing a lot together through touring and working on new stuff, so we are more powerful and exciting with our instruments. 

POF: Who recorded what on the first LP? Are both you and Matt Lamkin versatile musicians? 
MM:  Matt and I wrote all of the material and played guitars and bass on all of the tracks except for 2. David played bass on two tracks and Brian played drums on two tracks. The rest of the drums were done by a bunch of different people.

POF: If you had to choose one track for people to listen to and form an opinion about your band, then what track would it be, and why?
MM:  Every new song we write becomes my favorite song to play. The most recently recorded one is called called “Parasites”. It’s on a 7 inch. That’s probably my favorite (one recorded). My real favorite is one we haven’t recorded called “Everything I Know.”

POF: In the video for “Extinction”, is that true frustration or just some good acting?
MM: Well you’d have to ask Matt that question. But I think it was a little of both.

POF: I first heard of The Muslims when they were announced as tour support for The Night Marchers (Jon Reis’ current project) in 2008. How did that come about?  (or just b/c everyone is from San Diego?)
MM:  Speedo asked us to go on tour with them when we were at SXSW. We we’re really excited, as we are huge fans of the bands he’s been in. I’m guessing being from San Diego didn’t hurt but we had never spoken with him prior to that conversation.

POF: On the first full length LP, on 1928 Recordings there are series of holes in the Sleeve. What’s the story behind this?  Also, did the band come up with the packaging, concept and inserts? Anyone have a background in printmaking? 
MM:  Matt came up with the concept of shooting the records. We didn’t have enough money to do a colored silk screen so Matt thought it would be a good idea to shoot the records. Our friend Ryan at 1928 Recordings hand typed all of the inserts and silk-screened the all of the records. I thought he did a great job. He’s a pro.

POF: Is there drama in the SoCal music scene because you guys are based in LA now; but then get nominated for Best Album at the 2008 San Diego Music Awards?
MM: No drama in Socal from what I can tell. We knew we weren’t going to win the sdma award. I don’t think anyone cares that we live in LA now.

POF: Whom do you guys get compared to most often in the press? 
MM: We probably get compared to the Velvet Underground or Strokes the most.

POF: And finally, how did the name The Soft Pack come about . . . anything to do with cigarettes? And why Pack (singular) instead of Packs (plural)? 
MM: Na, nothing to do with cigarettes. I hate soft packs of cigarettes. Pack, you know like a pack a fuckin’ dudes.