The following is a conversation between NUVO freelancer Jordan Martich and Cory Murchy, bassist of Minus the Bear. They will be touring through Indiana in support of their new album Infinity Overhead, stopping at The Vogue on September 17 to play with Cursive and Caspian. Doors for the show open at 8 p.m.
NUVO: Hi, is this Cory?
Cory Murchy: Howdy.
NUVO: First of all I want to say that I really like the new record. It's been playing in my car for the past few weeks and it just refuses to get old, so kudos. Job well done.
Murchy: Awesome. Glad to hear it. Thanks man.
NUVO: I know that there were a lot of important things that you guys wanted to do with Omni (2010), like working with an outside source as a producer for one of the first times. I was wondering what kind of important things you guys wanted to do in the process of recording Infinity Overhead?
Murchy: Well I think it was a great learning experience, what we did with Omni. We've done one record before with Steve Fisk (Soundgarden, Nirvana, The Posies) on Highly Refined Pirates, who was an outside producer, but then the rest of it had pretty much been all in-house with Matt (Bayles; former keyboardist, producer) and the band. I think when we did Omni it was a great experience and I think there were a lot of lessons to be learned, you know. It was very good to get back and record with Matt again because there's just such a history with all of us going even farther back than the band. All our old bands recorded with Matt and there's a lot of history there too so. It's good. We got to come back and Matt had been doing a ton of projects and he's always busy so he's learned that much more through the years. It was just kind of the perfect opportunity to all get back together and make a record.
NUVO: A lot of people are saying that the new record is so much more driven by guitar than, not what your past stuff has been, but what Omni had been. How did that focus appear?
Murchy: Yeah, I mean, I think that's true. Omni experimented a lot with different keyboard sounds and fleshing out new ideas with a little more keyboard than maybe we have done in the past, which proved great results that we're happy for. This new record, I think it's a little more indicative of our overall live show. It's got the energy of a live set and we touch on the electronic side of things but we're not defined by it. We're definitely a loud rock 'n' roll guitar band too. It's just kind of the way it worked out.
NUVO: Yeah. Some of the guitar stuff on this new record is the gnarliest tones that I've ever heard you guys do, and I was wondering how that plays into the writing process. Is it just messing around with different effects pedals for a long time or is it something you guys can just hear?
Murchy: Dave (Knudson; guitar) is the pedal-wizard. He spends a lot of time experimenting and trying out different things with different combinations of pedals and all sorts of different techniques, as does Jake (Snider; guitar, vocals). I think that going into this project we had a little bit more of a grasp of what we wanted to hear and how we wanted to hear it, maybe more so than in the past. So we were able to go in with an idea of how everything should sound and better execute it that way.
NUVO: Okay. How important is Seattle to your band's identity, personality, and music? And why?
Murchy: It's important in the way that it's where we all ended up from different places. We've been able to bond in Seattle and because of Seattle; I mean we're all friends and stuff, you know. The city definitely influences a lot too. It's raining and then it's beautiful - and it's beautiful when it's raining. So I don't know. The landscape affects some of us a lot and just the fact that there's water everywhere. You can get out to the woods and also drive east and get to the desert. You drive west and you hit the ocean so, you know, you've just kind of got it all there. I think it's important to spend time outside and appreciate it. Somehow that makes its way into the music just because it's going to affect who we are as people in one way or another.
NUVO: Right. I don't mean to make the West Coast seem like such a catalyzing factor for creative types, but a lot of creative types end up going to Seattle, L.A., and Portland and a lot of good work comes from that. I just didn't know how that had affected your band.
Murchy: Well there has been a lot of talent in Seattle from the get-go, you know. While there's a desire to be better and to push ourselves musically, and you know, not fuck it up, there is special attention on the West Coast and in particular Seattle. For some reason if you're a band from New York then you're a band from New York, and if you're from L.A. you're a band from L.A. For whatever reason it is what it is. I don't know. There's plenty of awesome bands that came out of Omaha too, you know, and Detroit and all those places. It's weird.
NUVO: Yeah. All right. What's the most rewarding part of being in the band between recording, writing, and performing live? Which one do you like to do the most?
Murchy: Playing live is just an incredible experience because we're lucky enough to do this and travel around the country and people show up to our shows and dance and sing and have a good time. I mean we've got really great jobs. It's our art, it's our craft, and it's our livelihood, and we're lucky to do it. I think the energy that we play with and that the audience has is something that I'm grateful for and humbled by. It's pretty awesome that people still show up to our shows. We've been doing this for over a decade and it honestly feels like each show gets better and better. It's a pretty lucky position to be in.
NUVO: Right. You guys haven't toured for the new record yet have you?
Murchy: No, we start on Monday in Boise and then we're on our way.
NUVO: Okay. What are some of the expectations you have? You were saying that the guitar is part of being a more live-experienced album, what are you expectations for the new album's tour?
Murchy: I'm looking forward to having fun and playing live. These songs on this record in particular really lend themselves to a live show even more so than the last record, and that's not a cut, but it's just that there's a certain energy to these songs. I feel like the handful of times we've performed them so far over the summer, it's impact-ful for us. We sound good live. They sound really good live right now, and it shows, and it's pretty rad.
Murchy: I expect people to have fun.
NUVO: And you guys are a diverse band not just in combing all these different genres and styles, and doing it smoothly and well, but you guys also do different kinds of recordings. You do acoustic sessions, remixes of songs, EPs, and full-lengths. How do you guys plan out things like that? Do you all sit down to talk about it?
Murchy: Yeah we talk about everything and throw around ideas for plans all the time. There's definitely plans for another acoustic record and we're getting remixes together from this new record. There's not necessarily a remix record or anything coming out. We like to have all sorts of stuff going on. You know remixes, and forming an acoustic version, that's all passion. That's a part of it. I think it's really beneficial for us as a band to work them out in an acoustic sense. It gets to the core of the song sometimes but in a different way, which can be really cool. You can kind of learn from the song in that way too. It's just nice to come at it from all sorts of angles. Yeah we sit down and talk about what the hell we're going to do next, for sure.
NUVO: Cool cool. It just seems so symbolic of the way that your music hits for most people because it's a mix of different things that are all so great. It seems like it has to be a huge balancing act or a huge juggling act to get it all out smoothly the way that you guys have been able to do for so long.
Murchy: Sorry, what's the question?
NUVO: Yeah I don't know if there was a question in that. I was just saying stuff.
Murchy: Oh, yeah. Okay, thank you. It's fun.
NUVO: I guess with the balancing act, is there ever a time when you guys will say, 'Well this is too much guitar' or 'This is too rock-oriented' or 'This is too much keyboard for our style'?
Murchy: Uh no. We've never said, like, 'This is too much' or not enough for one thing or another. I think the key to the band's success and longevity is that we've never had any sort of desire to use catchphrases or stick with any sort of genre in particular. It was a joke back in the day that if a part made you laugh, it must be good. Sometimes that's been used, but really we just strive to make music that we all enjoy and feel like pushes us and continues to expand our musical dictionary, if you will.
NUVO: Yeah, you all seem to be musicians who are constantly challenging yourselves. Is there another level where you're challenging each other in different ways?
Murchy: Oh yeah, absolutely. Anytime a riff comes in it's challenging and challenges the other person to work harder, which I think is a good thing.
NUVO: What are the plans for the rest of the year? You said something about an acoustic album?
Murchy: Tour, tour, tour, man. That's what's on our horizon right now and trying to get the record out and into as many people's hands as possible.
NUVO: Sounds good man. Well I'll be at the Indianapolis date dancing my ass off.
Murchy: Cool. Awesome, thanks a lot man, we appreciate it.
NUVO: Yeah, thank you.
For the full story on Minus the Bear click here.
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