Vibey slacker-poppers PACKS are the new kids on the block. Already earning support in both tastemakers and avid fans, the quartet’s compelling soundscapes and authentic narratives have us hooked into their introspective works. We spoke to head honcho Madeline Link about heading up the four piece, their forthcoming debut album and songs to make you dance.
Hey Maddie, how’s your week going?
It’s good! I can’t complain! Got to shoot some hoops after work and wander around the neighbourhood.
So, we’ve been loving all your releases so far this year – what’s your secret for creating amazing sad-bops?
There’s no secret! Just be really sad! I find even when trying to express a feeling in a conversation, it’s hard to explain the bodily phenomena plus the spiralling trains of thought tied to whatever variety of sadness I’m going through. That’s why when I play the acoustic guitar right up close to my chest and sing too, it’s like my thoughts and body are working together to work it all out. My fingers relay the information from my chest and heart and my mouth and throat relay the information from my other senses!
Before becoming a four piece, PACKS was your solo project. How has the dynamics changed for you since doing everything yourself?
Back in high school I would record songs with found audio (hugely inspired by Deerhunter), loud drums, layers of chunky guitars, synth, and no bass. This is what would get me through the days. After I started playing drums live with my sister in Triples, I realized I could take my own songs I was writing and perform them live too, but I’d have to simplify them a lot in order to play them true to the recordings. So my songwriting has endured great swells and atrophies in terms of the amount of instruments I like to incorporate, but now that I have three bandmates who create and fill out such beautiful new facets to my songs, I thank my lucky stars that all I have to worry about are the vocals and rhythm guitar. I still add in licks or drum parts here and there, but it’s very nice to not have to consider it for every single song.
Your debut album Take The Cake is out this month, how do you feel about it being ready to be released into the world?
It’s learned how to dress itself, tie its shoes, interact with other albums, maybe even make its own album! I’ve trained it well. I’ve never held onto an album or any piece of music I’ve written for this long, so it feels so right that it’s coming out in a matter of weeks. To hold the record in my hands and listen to the vinyl in my parent’s living room will be extremely surreal. I might even cry! The fact is that if you want to have that feeling, you have to have patience because there has to be a public buildup of some sort, plus it takes a while for songs to be mastered and for the records themselves to be made. This album will come to represent not just the era in which I wrote the songs, but also the learning I did during the entire production of the album and its rollout, right up to this interview even!
It was written between Toronto and Ottawa, how have those different environments impacted your songwriting?
As long as I can be in a comfortable place alone, I can write. When I was living with my old boyfriend, I would only ever write when he was out of the house, and same with any other living situation in Toronto. In Ottawa, at first living with the parents again after seven years made me all sheepish. They leave the house a lot less often so I was fretting I may never get the chance to write, but then I realized I would lose my shit if I didn’t write songs so I bit the bullet, hunkered down, and just played.
What can we expect to hear from the album?
You can expect… the unexpected! But for real, isn’t it always better to go into anything without any expectations?
Were there any key influences drawn upon for this album?
I like to refer to early Shins, Elliott Smith and Thom Yorke when it comes to the vocal range in a song. It’s hard to do falsetto live, but I don’t let that prohibit me from doing it! I’m hugely inspired by going to see PONY live, Sam’s onstage energy and no fucks given attitude. Pool Holograph’s vocal/guitar dynamic is the stuff of legends and daydreams. They also have incredible live energy! Fun fact: When looking for someone to master Take the Cake, the first place I looked was their Transparent World album, mastered by none other than the hyper-talented, prolific Sarah Register! Who also mastered my favorite Shins album! And Andrew W.K.’s I Get Wet. That’s not an influence, but I just think it’s cool.
And finally, what’s the one song that’s guaranteed to make you cry and the one song that’ll almost make you want to get up and dance?
Cry song: New Loved Ones by Toro y Moi
Most angelic finger-picking, most devastating lyrics, sounds like it was recorded in a church.
Dance song: Sensual Seduction by Snoop Dogg
Flutes, 70s synth, slow tempo, but real nice pace.
Thanks for taking the time to chat to us!
PACKS debut LP Take The Cake is due out on Fire Talk Records and Royal Mountain Records on May 21st.
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