1. What have you been listening to lately?
Tons of country! For our tour in the states we made playlists so we wouldn’t get tired of being in the car. We still got tired of being in the car, but I made a really wonderful 30s-60s country playlist that lifts my spirits whenever I’m really down.
2. Have you ever seen a ghost or had any paranormal experience?
I would like to one day, but I can’t say I have yet. I barfed green while I was in the shower and then when I went to turn off the water I felt like I was being eletrocuted, but I’m not sure how paranormal that is.
3. My biggest fear is that there will be an asteroid heading toward earth, and the US government gets me and my crew of oil drillers to train with NASA so we can travel to the asteroid, drill a hole into the asteroid, and plant a nuclear bomb. Then the remote to detonate the nuke gets damaged and it has to be detonated manually, so it's between Ben Affleck (who has been dating my daughter) and me to detonate it manually. Also, “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith plays at some point. What is your biggest fear?
Oh wow I’m honestly not sure I could top that. Probably being convinced that I’m in a nightmare and expecting to wake up only to realize that this time it isn’t just a dream.
4. Anything you’re looking forward to in 2022?
5. Who is Honour Labelle?
She is a fictional canadian celebutante that some friends and I made up for an art school film project!
6. Who would win in a fight? PACKS (but you guys can use your instruments as weapons) or a pack of wolves?
That’s a tough call. Maybe the wolves. I can’t see myself wanting to beat a wolf with my guitar anytime in the near future.
7. If every animal was the size of a domestic cat, what pet would you want?
Probably still a cat! Or maybe a house hippo, but only if it were domesticated.
8. Do you ever cry to any of your own songs?
Only while I’m writing them!
9. What is the worst advice that you can give me?
Don’t brush your teeth.
10. Any local Toronto or Ottawa bands that you think we should check out?
Fanclub wallet, Fern Sully, Rapport, Pleasure Craft, Triples, Acapulco Gold!
Isaac Gutierrez for Born Loser Magazine: To start things off, can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about yourself for those who may not be too familiar with you?
Madeline Link of PACKS: I’m Madeline, the lead singer and songwriter of the band PACKS, formerly known as PAX way back when.
What first sparked your interest in making music?
I wanted to learn how to play every beatles song in the book! My dad taught me how to play If I Fell and then I just started to learn all of my favorite songs by other artists too so I could sing them and feel how it felt to play them!
I know that PACKS started off as a solo project. Was it a pretty smooth process going from a solo project to a full band, or did it take some time to get adjusted to it?
It was a process that I didn’t really notice as it was happening, so pretty smooth. The guys came to see me play by myself once and then the next time I played, it was with them!
I know you spent some time in the Toronto music scene before the pandemic hit. What was it like coming up in that scene?
I kind of forget! When I first started playing with Triples, we would say yes to every show. Sometimes we’d be last at the end of a five band all male bill, and that’s when we knew we had to set a couple of boundaries. After that, it got a lot better and every show was like a community gathering where we could see all our favourite people, dance, and be silly.
You released your debut album “Take The Cake” earlier this year! What was the writing/recording process like?
The writing and recording processes were scattered as usual! Half of the songs were recorded in a single afternoon in one of our houses over the course of six months while the other half were written and recorded in one month from across the country.
Were you listening to anything in particular when recording the album?
I think I was listening to the album “Soul Trash” by Toro Y Moi, lots of Elliot Smith, In My Room by Frank Ocean. The kind of thing that real sad sacks were listening to back in early 2020.
The album has been out for a few months now, how often do you go back and revisit your music?
I never go back to it, but when other people decide to play my album in front of me I don’t shut them down because I do still enjoy how the songs sound!
Who did the album art? It’s really cool.
My sister is a painter! I asked her to paint my portrait for the cover and she agreed.
You worked on this album at a distance because of the pandemic. Which is crazy considering it’s your first full album. I’m sure there were a lot of difficulties creating an album in such an unconventional way, but were there any surprising benefits?
There weren’t really too many difficulties! It was nice because I got to do some drumming on a couple songs and go back to the way I used to record when I was seventeen.
Is there a specific memory that you think you’ll always associate with the album?
Probably sitting at my desk in the back room of our apartment in Toronto, writing Hangman.
What are your ideals for creating? Is there a particular environment or mindset you have to be in to be able to write?
Usually I have to be in a pretty shitty, frustrated place to write a song. But sometimes I have a curiosity about something I’ve seen that’s so strong that I have to write an entire song about it.
Do you try to write or play something every day? Or just when you’re feeling inspired?
I always try to play something every day! I just love playing so it’s a real urge. The inspiration could strike at any moment.
What is the most important thing to you when it comes to creating a song?
There is no one most important thing, it’s all important. It’s the entire process, am I right??
I think it’s really interesting how different songs on the album are. I think hangman really sticks out. When you’re writing a song do you have an idea of what sound you’re going for, or do you just kind of feel it out with each individual song?
I just wrote the song when I was feeling really down – like rock bottom – and then the guys added in their respective parts, which totally transformed the entire song into something I never could have imagined let alone put into words.
I think my personal favorite song is “Hold My Hand”, can you give us some background on that song?
This is a really short song about when I just wanted someone to be physically beside me after I got doored by a car and flew into the middle of the street while biking in Toronto.
I’m also really curious about where the song title “Divine Giggling” comes from?
That was an idea I had about the spirits up above looking down at us and giggling as we all try to reconcile our foolish lives in the grips of a global pandemic.
Everyone always asks about your favorite/best show experience, but what has been your worst show experience?
Man, I don’t even wanna say because it was so bad. I still shudder thinking about it.
I read in a few past interviews about your time in Mexico. I'm sure you've gotten a ton of questions about your time there, so I'll just ask the most important question. How was the food??
The food was incredible! No other cuisine can compare to Mexican. I am just heading back from Mexico City as I write this and all I can think about are the quesadillas! I would get espinaca and flor de calabaza con queso almost every day from a little shop ran by two women that would open daily at 7PM. They were the best quesadillas I’ve ever eaten and I feel tears welling in my eyes at the thought that I’ll have to wait until I come back to be able to taste those flavours again.
I used to go to Veracruz twice a year to visit my dad’s family, and I miss it a lot. Not really a question. I’m just feeling nostalgic.
I hope you get to go back someday soon! The only thing is you may never wanna come back once you’re there.
Did you learn any new Spanish phrases?
A really kind man that I met told me the hardest thing to know in a conversation with someone using slang is that they’ll use the words “este madre” to mean anything hahah! He’d point to his phone, his drink, his chair – it could mean anything, which seemed to me like a fun new piece of the spanish language puzzle.
Any chance that we will get a spanish album anytime soon?
The chance of that is about the same as PACKS going on tour with Kanye. It would be interesting, but not very likely!
I also read that you were into cumbia for a while when you first got back from Mexico. Any artists or songs in particular?
I was obsessed with Lisandro Meza all of Winter 2021. I could not stop listening to Lejanía. I loved the intertwining of the accordion, the beat, and the bumping bass. Los Destellos and Hijos del Sol also would also be on every playlist I made! I had watched the film “Ya no estoy aquí” while I was in Oaxaca and got super into the halftime cumbia from the 2000s as well. Slowed my heart down and gave me a bit of peace for a little while!
You’re also in another band called Triples! Can you talk to us a bit about that band?
That’s my sister’s band! We started it together as just a two piece. She played guitar and sang and I played the drums and did backup vocals. It was really fun and it’s the only reason that I’m out here playing my own songs live today.
If we were to start a cumbia band together, what would we be called?
Probably “Esas Madres,” no?
What musical accomplishment are you most proud of?
Generally, I’m always most proud of the most recent song I’ve written. But I’m also proud of the fact that PACKS has turned into a much larger project that I expected it to, and that the whole band has been chilling and working together long enough to see the release of two albums!
Any plans to tour in the US anytime soon?
No plans as of right now! But I think we have aspirations to.
What do you like to do when you’re not working on music, or playing shows?
I like to sit and stare into space or go on a really slow walk around the neighbourhood.
To wrap things up, do you have any questions for me?
What’s your most potent childhood memory?
When I was like 3 or 4 my grandma would babysit me in the mornings. I remember waking up from naps and she'd be singing old Spanish church hymns in a croaky voice while she cleaned the house. I can't remember what her voice sounded like except through that specific memory, so I think about it a lot.