Dubious Decisions Department: The Muslims Change Their Name To The Soft Pack

December 01, 2008

In a confounding move that will go down in history forever (read: some blogs will talk about it briefly), The Muslims have changed their band name to The Soft Pack. Presumably, this is because suddenly a bunch of white dudes calling themselves The Muslims doesn't seem like such a good idea, but we're going to go ahead and say the change is the bad idea, especially since "soft pack" reminds us of shitty tasting cookies. We say change it back, and in tribute we are web-publishing our Gen F on THE MUSLIMS from FADER 58, on stands now.

Update: As has been pointed out to us by salty Nikkos, white dudes can be Muslims, too. Good point, but can San Diegans be Muslims?? Heh?

The Muslims clatter and clang

Story Richard Thomas
Photography Robert Yager

It’s just before noon and three of the four members of The Muslims are sitting down for a hearty breakfast of eggs and potatoes, freshly cooked by bassist Dave Lantzman. While lead singer Matt Lamkin resides in East Hollywood and drummer Brian Hill is still down in San Diego where the band got its start, Lantzman and guitarist Matty McLoughlin live here in Echo Park—walking distance from the infamous Burrito King Mexicatessen on the corner of Sunset and Alvarado. Five days ago, a man was shot and killed at the foot of their driveway. His friend, after banging on their unlocked front door to no avail, managed to jump the fence behind their house and get away from the gunman. But the rent is affordable and they can come home at 2AM with a full-blown buzz and rehearse at peak volume with no complaints.

A solid showing at South By Southwest earlier this year has enabled The Muslims to spend more time on the road and less time at home anyway, though they’re quickly warming to their new Los Angels locale and the city is similarly smitten with them. They recorded a new 7-inch for their song “Parasites” (with a cover of Spaceman 3’s “Walking With Jesus” on the flip) at a proper studio just over the hill in Lincoln Heights, and once you get past all the extremist propaganda search results on YouTube, you’ll find their black and white video for “Extinction,” a track from the self-titled album they put out on Brooklyn indie 1928 Recordings. As quick and dirty as a bar fight, the album is stapled together with clamorous drums and blurry garage punk hooks, but the sentiment is affectionately defiant.

Yet as Lamkin fronts The Muslims and their unaffected strut, he doesn’t try to out-pout anyone. His mild-mannered vocals stand up nice and straight as they bang off McLoughlin’s rickety guitar strums and two-finger solos. “I’ve always been into people like Johnny Cash and Jonathan Richman who don’t adopt a persona that seems too far from how they’d be in real life,” says Lamkin. “Me personally, I get excited when I think I’m hearing someone’s honest opinion. If music is too dolled up or contrived, it loses that sincerity.” The Muslims’ honesty is reminiscent of the time before total fuzz and noise was common in rock, and when you listen to their thump you realize they’re not that grizzly, just forceful and loose.

Dubious Decisions Department: The Muslims Change Their Name To The Soft Pack