Best of What's Next: The Soft Pack

Music Features The Soft Pack
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Best of What's Next: The Soft Pack

Hometown: San Diego
Album: The Soft Pack
Members: Brian Hill (drums), Matt Lamkin (vocals, guitar), Dave Lantzman (bass), Matty McLoughlin (guitar)
For Fans Of: Black Lips, The Libertines, The Replacements

In college, Soft Pack frontman Matt Lamkin had a film professor whose father was a Holocaust survivor. The band took its original name, The Muslims, from that professor’s stories. “He was talking about how there were people [during the Holocaust] who were trying to get out,” Lamkin says, “and people who had given up—the walking dead, so to speak, just waiting around to die. They were referred to as ‘Muslims.’”

The band eventually grew tired of the unintended controversy, so it dropped the name. “Muslims thought we were making a joke and were offended, and with non-Muslims, it opened up this jokey thing where they thought they could make fun of Islam, and we weren’t into that.”

Half of the now-L.A.-based Soft Pack met in high school in San Diego, its current lineup solidifying in 2008. Since then, the band’s raw, energetic rock—punky but not punk, noisy but not experimental, catchy but not pop—has landed it gigs opening for Franz Ferdinand, The Breeders and Phoenix. “Playing with bigger bands has always been a good experience,” Lamkin says. “They’ve all been professionals on and off stage—very generous and friendly, a pleasure to see live and really good with jokes after the shows. So we learn little tricks of the trade—and that it pays to be good people.”

After releasing a few 7-inches and EPs, the band has signed to Kemado for its debut full-length, produced by Eli Janney (Ryan Adams, Jawbox, The Rapture) and due out in February. “It’s a lot more dynamic than the old stuff,” Lamkin says. “There’s more push and pull. I think we’re getting better as a band, and as songwriters.”