The Soft Pack
By Carlos Ramirez
Considering the attention it was bound to attract, it must have taken guts to call your band The Muslims. But when you listened to the San Diego band’s 2008 self-titled EP, you knew these were guys who marched in their own rhythm. Their jangly guitar-pop has more in common with bands like The Feelies, The Velvet Underground, and The Modern Lovers than it does with anything going on today. “We definitely grew up listening to that stuff. Our guitars have a lot of reverb and don't like to use slot of chords, like the bands you mentioned,” says guitarist Matt McLoughlin.
As provocative as the name was, the band have recently changed their name to The Soft Pack. It seemed like the name proved to be getting in the way of the music as McLoughlin explains, “Yeah, it became a total nuisance in the end. We got asked to explain the meaning behind it all the time so we just changed it to move on from that.” Band name controversies aside, for a band that has only released a 7” and an EP on a tiny imprint, The Soft Pack have had the kind of press adulation usually reserved for major label acts. Even the infamously picky tastemakers at Stereogum and Music For Robots both sung the combo’s praises with the latter proclaiming, “It’s an amazing thing to sound this effortless. It’s the first thing I’ve heard in awhile that I want to listen to over and over and over again.”
Although McLoughlin and vocalist Matt Lamkin write some of the quirkiest yet infectious melodies you’ll hear anywhere, there’s still a scrappy feel to their recordings which only adds even more charm to the experience. McLoughlin might see it another way, “I think it has an organic sound to it because we recorded it bare bones style. And we kind of sucked at our instruments at the time (laughter).” Bred in the vibrant punk scene in San Diego, McLoughlin is always ready to push the other bands there to anyone who will listen. “We grew up huge fans of Drive Like Jehu, Black Heart Procession, Hot Snakes. In terms of newer groups, The Sess ruled, and Kill Me Tomorrow rips it harshly,” the guitarist proudly tells SESAC. 2009 looks to be another banner year for The Soft Pack as they recently signed with Kemado Records (The Sword, Dungen) and are staring down a tough touring schedule. With so much work ahead, they knew they had to work with a company that truly supported indie music. “We met Josh (Feingold, Associate Director of Writer/Publisher Relations) through the guys in the Crocodiles and we know he’s a big supporter of the indie music scene so it was a no-brainer.”