San Diego Symphony's second night of the Masterworks season showcased the power of place and personality
Garrett Harris noon, Oct. 13
Sound description: Experimental guitar-centered pop punk with elaborate, nearly symphonic vocals.
RIYL: The Prayers, the Strokes, the Vultures, Interpol, the Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, Velvet Underground, the Replacements, R.E.M.
Inception: San Diego, 2006
Influences: The Prayers, the Vultures, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, the Strokes, Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, the Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, Wire, the Browns, the Sundells, the Fall, Sonic Youth, the Replacements, Jim Morrison, the Byrds, Joy Division
The Muslims were originally fronted by singer/guitarist Matt Lamkin and bassist Emily Neveu, who sang and played guitar and keyboards with the Clock Work Army. She learned the bass in order to join the Muslims. The band released a five-song demo, recorded in a band member’s bedroom.
Drummer Gabe Patuzzi came from the band the Holy Boys.
Matt Lamkin (who writes most of the lyrics) and guitarist Matty McLoughlin grew up together in North County. They recall that they didn’t think about playing music when they both went to Torrey Pines High School in the late ’90s.
“I didn’t feel the need to play in some jerkoff punk band,” says McLoughlin about the musical tastes that dominated their high school. “The kids who did listen to music when I went there were dorks. They were Huey Lewis as fuck.... I liked the Replacements. The rest of the kids were into the Swingin’ Utters. I was busy getting my college paid for [earning a baseball scholarship].”
Lamkin and McLoughlin came back home last year with college degrees but without career plans. They decided to start their first band in January 2007 while delivering pizzas. Since their first gig at the Beauty Bar, the Muslims have become Casbah regulars and gigged in L.A.
“I’m surprised we’ve gotten the attention we have [without] playing the game,” says Lamkin.
“If you go into the Beauty Bar on any Friday or Saturday night,” says McLoughlin, “it’s like you’re watching a high school musical re-creation of any cool punk-rock band from 1977. It’s like they took the look, the attitude, and the sound, and that is what they do. People seem scared shitless to like something that might be a little weird or goofy.... Everything is safe in San Diego. It’s, like, some bands think you have to have a reference to the past to be legitimate.”
Lamkin, McLoughlin, bassist Richie Lauridsen, and drummer Gabe Patuzzi moved to L.A. in late 2007. Lamkin and McLoughlin then essentially restarted the band, adding new members Brian Hill and David LantzMan. As of October 2008, all four band members live in L.A.
“Some [bloggers] have accused us of being too good for San Diego,” says McLoughlin. “It’s not like we’re abandoning San Diego; it’s just that we don’t want to depend on our parents anymore or work at some record store.”
“I got a job connected with my degree [in film],” says Lamkin. “It’s not like we’re moving up there to get signed.”
Lamkin told Vice magazine, “Most of the band recently moved from San Diego to L.A., and I think L.A. is pretty cool because it has a bigger all-ages thing going on. In San Diego, it’s pretty much just the Ché Café, but it depends on who’s working there. There are just more bands in L.A. so you get a lot more bullshit but you also get a lot more good stuff.”
At the 2008 San Diego Music Awards, the band was mysteriously nominated for Best Album, for a two song 7-inch record with "Extinction" and a cover of "My Flash On You," by Arthur Lee and Love. They lost.
In November 2008, the group announced it was changing its name to the Soft Pack. "We hated the band name and the completely ignorant, stupid annoying s--- that came along with it," guitarist Matty McLoughlin told Spinner.com.