Need To Know: The Soft Pack


By Courtney Nichols

The Soft Pack just gets it. With a simple agenda -- to create rock 'n' roll -- these San Diego natives have secured a diverse and loyal following. Originally named the Muslims (they changed their name after deciding it was too controversial), the Soft Pack has been utilizing the festival circuit to exhibit their retro and often happy sound.

We chatted with lead vocalist Matt Lamkin and their out-and-proud drummer Brian Hill amongst a backdrop of garbage cans and a radiator at Coachella last month to learn about the recording process, stand-up comedy, and the gay origin of the band's name.

Out: Let's talk about your recording process. This might seem silly, but a lot of artists have admitted to drinking while in the studio. Do you guys drink while you write?
Matt Lamkin: We don't drink really when we record.
Brian Hill: Ideally, you go in and you're totally clear-headed.
Lamkin: For us, we always wanted to go in and get out and hammer it out.
Hill: It isn't really worth all that when you are drunk and you want to add something because then you end up deleting it because you know it sounds really terrible.

Do you brainstorm at your house or in the studio?
Lamkin: We brainstorm at Matty's garage and all mess around.
Hill: On our own time we all have guitars lying around. We come up with ideas and bring that stuff to what we will start recording.
Lamkin: We have pretty much everything written by the time we go in. There's not much left up to chance when we go into the studio.
Hill: There's always a possibility when you don't have that stuffed nailed down that once you go into the studio it will drive you crazy.

How do you name a song? Is it typically lyric-based?
Lamkin: Yes, usually lyric based. I try to come up with the simplest, main thread that runs through the song -- something catchy and easy to remember.

So then music is created first?
Lamkin: Basically how it works, someone will bring a guitar or Brian will put something together and play a little thing and we will try it out. We will play with the band for however long it takes to hammer it out and once we get the song done I will write lyrics --
Hill: Or sometimes, he writes lyrics on the spot.
Lamkin: We've done a couple of songs where we have switched instruments. We were bored and frustrated and everyone would play another instrument and we would record it with a couple songs. I made lyrics on the spot for a couple songs.
Hill: And they never changed.
Lamkin: It's pretty cool.

And your genre, how would you define that?
Hill: I always just say rock 'n' roll because that makes the most sense to me.
Lamkin: But we are also kind of indie-alternative. I call it "party angst."
Hill: Matt came up with "power conservative," which I like a lot.
Lamkin: It's just a concept.

Are your audiences as diverse as the genres?
Lamkin: Actually yeah. You get a lot of men and women who come to our shows. You don't want to be grouped.

Different ages, sexuality --
Lamkin: Yep!