Saturday, April 27, 2013

Interview: Breakthrough Group Juno Nominees The Pack a.d.

image credit: Rebecca Blissett
The Pack a.d., a rock duo from Vancouver, have been around since 2006, but it was not until this year that they were noticed by the people giving out Canada's top prizes in music, the Juno Awards.

I got to sit down with Becky Black and Maya Miller the day before the big awards where they were nominated in the Breakthrough Group category for their album Unpersons along with Yukon Blond, Hey Ocean!, Walk Off the Earth and the winners Monster Truck.

Breakthrough Artist/Group categories always intrigue me because half of time the bands have been around for five years or more. Most of the bands that were nominated along with The Pack a.d. fall into that category. That's a long road before your country validates you.

Between then and now there must have been times when they wanted to throw in the towel. I mean, I do on a daily basis and I am not even doing anything hard - I just don't want to wake up in the morning. So were their times between 2006 and their nomination that they were over the music business?

Maya Miller and Becky Black The Pack a.d.
Becky: All the time. It never ends too. One day you don’t want to do it any more, but you do it anyways.

Maya: Oddly, being not validated was more of an incentive to keep going then when I personally am validated. Suddenly when I’m validated it’s like, “I don’t want to do this anymore"...I never stopped liking the music, but the pursuing of it got a little hard.

Becky: It wears on you a bit.

The wearing part they speak of is the lovely times of touring. When they first started out they did a lot of touring in the States and then in the more recent years up in Canada. In the beginning they traveled around in a Ford E 150 van that had a seat that converted into a bed in the back...which has since broken down.

Becky: Now we don’t sleep in the van, which is nice.

For the non-musicians out there one would think the life of a rock star is so thrilling. Is it?

Maya: [Touring is] only fun and ‘Oh exciting” for exactly the first three days of tour…once.

Becky: Yeah the first tour we went on was exciting and like “I want to do this for the rest of my life.” And then two weeks in it’s like, ‘Oh I want to go home.'

Becky and Maya were in another band prior to breaking off and becoming the duo that we hear now. The most interesting part of their creation story was Maya joining band number one. Becky informed me that the girls in the first band asked Maya to join. They needed a drummer so Maya learned.

Becky: We used to be in a four piece and we met through friends that started that band. And uh, I already played guitar and she didn’t drum or anything at that point and we told her to drum.
Maya: Now I am a drummer…a real one.

Me: So you started to play drums…to be in the band?

Maya: Yes.

Me: How does that happen? Were they like, “We need a drummer. Learn.”?

Maya: That’s exactly how it happened.

There are no statistics to say how often this happens, but I would bet a lot. Well, probably more for bass players. I hear that's one of the easier ones to learn.

So that is how the band started...and 7 years later they got a Juno nomination. One would think after being around for that long, one nomination may not even register on their excitement meter.

Maya: It was really exciting. It felt really good for a day and then you know, you carry on with life. It did feel pretty cool cause you know, that’s an award in itself. Literally they actually sent us these lovely certificates saying congratulations on being nominated for a Juno that you can put in a frame.

Becky: So now we have proof that we’re in a real band. 

They are totally a real band...only the really legit ones were staying at the Hotel Sask in Regina for the Junos. How do I know this? Because that is where Fred Penner and Jim Cuddy chose to stay and do 3 AM concerts in random rooms. You can't get more legit than that.

Maya: It was an all night kegger at Fred’s last night.

Becky: He knows how to party.

I love everything about this (even if they were being sarcastic).


After the amazing breakthrough album "Unpersons", The Pack a.d. signed to Nettwerk Records for their forthcoming album, release date to be announced. To find out more about the rocker ladies from Vancouver click here.

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