With their newest album Infinity Overhead released through Dangerbird Records, Minus the Bear have completed five full-length recordings of the unique blend of rock, pop, jazz, dance, and electronic music that have earned them the respect of the music obsessed. They are a source of intelligent pop for those immersed in the incredible world of music.
Bassist Cory Murchy, formerly of Kill Sadie, spoke to me from the band's home of Seattle over the phone. The band was gearing up to begin their tour in support of the new record, beginning September 10 in Boise, Idaho.
"I'm looking forward to having fun and playing live," Murchy says. "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."
They've been applauded as musicians for their technical skill, artistic quality, lyrical vision, and the strange, innovative balancing act that must have been crucial to the construction of each album. Songs are often equal parts jazz and electronic, rock and dance. Beyond the diverse sound they've built in over a decade as a band, they've expanded upon the idea of traditional recordings and releases. Minus the Bear offers five full-length albums, multiple EPs, including live and acoustic versions of songs, remixes, and a slew of unreleased tracks.
"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," Murchy says.
It's no surprise that Minus the Bear receives success within and outside of the mainstream. Guitarist Dave Knudson played legendary riffs in progressive-hardcore pioneers Botch, singer Jake Snider performed in the softer, more jazz-influenced Sharks Keep Moving, and drummer Erin Tate is a former member of experimental post-hardcore band These Arms Are Snakes. Along with talented keyboardist Alex Rose, and bassist Murchy, they are an infinite source of good tunes.
Infinity Overhead is more guitar-oriented than previous releases, but still combines the talent of musicians who challenge themselves with song crafting. Listeners will remember that Minus the Bear is first and foremost a rock band, even with the intricate layers of everything else. The previous record, Omni, was an experimental push with more keyboard and electronic components in the song structure. While not displeased with the outcome, Minus the Bear has taken themselves in a different direction, with the same confidence and technical prowess that they've made each of their records with. As the group ages their tastes are changing. The music won't suffer, though. Infinity Overhead is full of the experiences that it's taken for the band to reach this stage of success. The songwriting, the composition, and the progressive attitudes are at their peak. According to Billboard the album debuted at the No. 1 spot for Vinyl Albums, with nearly 9 percent of its first week sales in the form of vinyl LPs.
"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," Murchy says. "We're definitely a loud rock 'n' roll guitar band too."
Nostalgic tracks from the new album like "Diamond Lightning" and "Cold Company" give long-time fans a taste of classic Minus the Bear, while "Lonely Gun" and "Lies and Eyes" deploy the definition defying guitar tone expansion that has appeared in the group's repertoire. "Steel and Blood," the first track, is the headbanging, party-crushing track to begin with. Atmospheric, soulful tunes like "Heaven Is A Ghost Town" add an incredible range to Infinity Overhead. The rehashed foray into the angular guitar work from the group's first few releases should welcome back the fans who were disappointed in Omni's electronic attitude. Infinity Overhead is the most rock 'n' roll, upbeat, and hard riffed record that the band has released to date. Minus the Bear should expect to attract scores of older fans and new ones when they tour for this new album because they've managed to keep the groove of Omni and develop further upon the prolifically athletic guitar riffs.
"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," Murchy says.
Over such a long career many bands become weary of the touring and the push for more original material. This group feeds off of their own potential. Each member contributes in his own capacity and draws on the charming mix of sounds that comprise Minus the Bear. Apart from constantly developing into the perfect musicians, Minus the Bear craves the chance to perform for their fans.
"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," Murchy says. "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."
This position has taken hard work and effort to reach. From the beginning the group was founded on the ending of former bands. Somehow these friends found themselves in Seattle and began performing together, in a city with as many angles as one of the group's records. Murchy enjoys the availability of ocean, mountains, desert, and city all only a short distance from Seattle.
The band plans to tour for the rest of the year and into the spring, including a stop at The Vogue in Indianapolis on September 17, bringing Infinity Overhead into as many hands as possible. The show in Indy includes Cursive and Caspian, doors opening at 8 p.m. Murchy also mentioned plans for another acoustic record in the future, and the possibility of another set of remixes. Most of all he wants to savor the dancing, drinking, and singing that fans will be doing at their live shows.
"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," Murchy says.
For the full interview with Cory Murchy click here.
[A+E] Festivals + Parties, DJs + Dancing, Rock, Hip-hop
[A+E] Classical Music, Jazz + Blues + R&B
[Music] DJs + Dancing
[Music] DJs + Dancing
[Music] DJs + Dancing