Back in 2011, drummer Maya Miller and singer/guitarist Becky Black released Unpersons, their fourth album as the Pack A.D. and final for Mint Records. Produced by Jim Diamond, Unpersons saw the duo's profile on an upwards rise via extensive North American touring, praising-heavy reviews and a Juno nomination. Yet despite signing to Nettwerk Records, the duo maintains that nothing much has changed for their new album, Do Not Engage, and it's business as usual.
"We recorded it before we were on a new label. We paid for the recording, and then were looking to license it, that's when Nettwerk came around," Black tells Exclaim! "It's a similar process as last time, except for that we recorded part of it in Detroit and part of it in Vancouver. Same studio, same producer. Maybe we got a little tighter."
While the creative process for their new album may have been par for the course, the move to a bigger label has been a change of pace. As Miller explains, "Everything with Nettwerk is new and fresh. This is the first [Pack A.D.] album that they're releasing, and we haven't been on a major tour since signing with them. It's interesting. There's just so many more people. It's like, 'Is there someone who does this?' 'Why, yes, it's this person.' Oh, another new person! They've got offices all over the place, and interns. It's like Life Aquatic."
Fans will notice some subtle stylistic shifts on Do Not Engage. Black plays bass on a few choruses (as she says, "to add a little extra oomph"), and Miller has taken a bigger role in singing.
"I looked at a set list we did recently, and realized we were playing 11 songs, and eight of the songs I'm singing with her," Miller says. "The whole album, I'm on a lot of it. That's something to get used to, doing the drums and singing at the same time. I'm doing something that's counter to what I'm doing with my body. We can't all be… Actually, we can all be Phil Collins. His drumming was not that spectacular. It wasn't some big feat he was singing too."
In support of Do Not Engage, the Pack A.D. are touring North America throughout February and March. But don't expect the band to change up the formula that has made their previous live shows so thoroughly entertaining.
"I always have this dream that I could play shows with a paper bag on my head or something like that, but then I'd asphyxiate myself, so I can't," Miller says. "We did that video for 'Big Shot' and we put on these animal costumes for it. Within five minutes of dancing in those dunes, I was gasping and sweating, asphyxiating."
Black might not be jumping off the drums any time soon, though, as Miller explains, "This last fall, we played a Filter Magazine festival thing. She jumped on the kit, but then fell onto me and the drums, and then off stage, landed on her neck on a bar railing, and also hit her head. And also hit her leg on my spiky cowbell. We spent eight hours in Emergency in Los Angeles."
Do Not Engage hits stores today (January 28) through Nettwerk Records, and you can stream it now here on Exclaim.ca. You can also see all the band's upcoming dates here.
Read more from our interview with the Pack A.D. here.