Living in an age where keeping up with all the indie acts rising up from everywhere is near impossible, the discovery of a musical project that is staggering to the point of covertly giving it several listens a day would feel like a relief. Calling upon the heart, the music of Pang Attack, reunited inside a debut EP entitled Dreamer’s Drug shows its genuineness and stellar level of songwriting. Alex Hackett, the brain behind this one-man do-it-yourself project took of some of his precious time to sit with us and discuss some of his upcoming projects, talk about his influences, and share his views about the music industry.
I.X: How did you first fell into music?
A.H: I always played music but it took awhile until I started to take it seriously. My first real band happened when I was Toronto, while I was interning at CBC. I started this band called Kill The Lights, which some people might know. That went pretty well; we started touring across Canada and eventually signed to a Toronto-based label. Then, it just really fell apart, the kind of classic indie-rock style (laughs). I was heartbroken, and Pang Attack really was the point of that. People say that the music is mellow and that it’s kind of dark, it’s coming out of an introspective point of view.
I.X: How did your experience with Kill The Lights shaped you as a musician?
A.H: I was with this band for six years. It was this scenario where we had a fair amount of success. For instance, we went through this traditional record industry model, which not a lot bands go through. Times have changed a lot since. This took place in 2006, the record industry was on the last legs of thinking there might be money to be made out of indie-rock bands. Today, the whole industry is collapsed. Back then, not only they did not know what it was; they were doing what they had always been doing. It was definitely an education for us, to get on these crazy tours and to play in font of people every night, opening for pretty big acts. Now, it’s pretty much do-it yourself; that aspect of the industry has gone off. They realized there was no money, unless you get to a certain point.
I.X: Is it that the music industry does not care for indie music anymore?
A.H: Certainly not the whole model industry. I think they are just going to leave indie-rock to itself. Now, it’s more about mid-size labels, which you are lucky if you get on, just like Grimes did on 4Ad. There is also Merge, Matador and others. Even if these labels have made money, they have maintained their idealism: it’s all about the quality of the music. Indie-rock has always been about creativity, pushing boundaries, doing something different.
I.X: How did you come up with the idea doing putting together your own project?
Some of the songs were already kicking around with the band, but we literally never had the chance of putting them together since it broke up. I was actually wondering if whether or not I was going to do this. Pang Attack is an alias I had created back then. I had a MySpace page, which was really old and contained demos made on Garage Band. I called it Pang Attack because I was experiencing all kinds of emotions and not being given any clarity. I’m feeling this, I’m feeling that, I’m feeling all at the same time and I don’t know what do.
A.H: What is the story behind the EP title, Dreamer’s Drug ?
I.X: Throughout my life, I've felt like I was floating. I can't really help it. I hear a lot of sounds in my head. I spend my days dreaming. I grew up in a very isolated little village in the Eastern Townships, on a farm. To give you an image, in the summer there is nothing but the sounds of nature, and silent in the winter. Introspection has always been a tool for me; it's something that was bred into me from day one.
After the end of KTL, I felt like I had been dreaming my life away to no great effect, and so, the title just kind of stuck in my head. Dreamers need drugs. Maybe music is the drug. What is the Dreamer's Drug? What do I need to take, to consume, to experience, to move my life forward?
I.X: Where do you get inspiration for writing these songs?
A.H: Everywhere, just walking around Montreal, for instance. I also studied literature and philosophy for a long time, and I guess I’m at a point in my life where I have a lot of bits and pieces. I feel like I’ve lived a couple of different lives, you know? I used to want to be poet; I have journals and journals so I used some of that in my lyrics as well. I’m constantly thinking of sounds, listening to music and absorbing it. The initial struggle was for me to be able to get to these feelings and be able to translate them musically, get it out and record it to make it resemble to what I was hearing inside my head. It took a while because I’m not a trained musician; I never went to music school or even learned theory.
I.X: Now, any projects in the works for you?
A.H: Yes, I am working on another EP full-length will come out. I think releasing many EPs is a good way to lay the foundation for creative flexibility. Some songs are more shoegazey, some songs more folky, some more electro - I want to be able to do whatever I want in the future, creatively, without pissing people off. I would like to have it out within 2 months - but that means probably just released online for free. Anarchy is best, in this day and age.
Dreamer’s Drug EP
Now available on Bancamp