FAIRBANKS - “We’re a little worried about the show because we take a little while to warm up, and we’ve taken about two months off. We’re actually going to practice right now so we don’t sound like crap,” said Becky Black, with a little laugh.
Black is the guitar and vocal half of the duo The Pack A.D., playing tonight at The Pub on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. Filling out the band’s ferocious sound is drummer Maya Miller.
Considering this is just a duo, the band makes quite a racket — and impact — on listeners. Known for intensely energetic live shows, the band has been compared with the Black Keys and other similar stripped-down, raw blues acts. Black, however, makes it clear that The Pack A.D. isn’t a blues band, at least not in the traditional sense.
“We make that distinction because when I think of blues music I think of the Sunday night blues jam type of thing where it’s all ‘rollin’ and tumblin’ ’ and straight up blues,” she said. “I don’t think those type of people get what we’re playing because I don’t consider us a very traditional blues band and that’s where the term blues is usually applied.”
Black and Miller prefer to call their music a “punk garage blues thing” that is evolving away from the blues into a “bit more rock, though I know that is such a broad category,” Black said.
But rock and roll was born of the blues, and the connection will probably always be there with The Pack A.D. This is especially true considering the raw, minor-edged sound Black plays while simultaneously wailing, moaning and shouting lyrics through Miller’s drumming, which more often comes across like something from a frenetic punk band.
Black explained, with a slightly ironic tone, that the Pack, as it was called originally, started with the blues because “in the very beginning … we weren’t very good at our instruments. We would just jam. It was pretty easy so we just went on from there. Now, were slightly better musicians and we’ve changed stylistically as we’ve gotten better, because that’s just how it goes. You can’t keep playing the same thing.”
The Pack formed in 2005 in Vancouver, B.C. Black and Miller original played in another band that never even made it to the stage. The pair found a common bond and jams turned into songs turned into an album, which later got them signed to Mint Records (which immediately reissued the debut album).
It was then that the band discovered there was a hip-hop outfit in California with the same name. After some deliberation, the A.D.—for After Death—was added.
“We spent about two months trying to come up with a different band name, trying to change it, and now I think we probably should have gone with one of those other names, but at the time we had already established ourselves in our city, and, if we changed it, no one would recognize it was us,” Black said. “So we added the After Death because Maya came up with this theory that this band had to die to be born as this band.”
The duo’s next album, “we kill computers,” comes out in April, and songs from that album will be performed in Fairbanks. Black said the album is less blues-based and more rock-driven than their last two albums.
“Even more lately, we don’t consider ourselves a blues band,” she said. “On our first two albums, there are a lot of songs that use the 12-bar thing (blues progression).”
Recorded live in the studio, Black added, the album is a solid example of the intense energy that propels The Pack A.D.
“When we got to making this album, we thought about what we’re going to play live: loud, thrashing, hard songs,” Black said. “So that’s what we came up with for this album. I think it is one of the best representations of our band.”
If You Go
What: The Pack A.D
When: 8 p.m. tonight
Where: UAF Pub
Tickets: $5 UAF students, $8 general