Seattle math rock-meets-electronic indie band Minus the Bear has been going strong for 12 years now, spending most of its time on the road or in the studio. As a testament to how much the band tours, take a look at how many times we've reviewed the band over the years.
So it's no surprise that Minus the Bear is back in support of its fifth full length album, Infinity Overhead. The band decided to take a back to basics approach and worked with producer Matt Bayles, who left the band in 2006 to focus on his producing career.
"I think we all have the same vision as far as wanting to do this for as long as it's making us happy and fun," says bassist Cory Murchy on the band's longevity, "So far so good, we're lucky it's turned into our jobs and we're stoked for that."
We recently caught up with Murchy to discuss working with Matt Bayles, the band's relentless tour schedule, and why Minus the Bear has strayed away from silly song titles.
Up on the Sun: I see you were just at Fun Fun Fun Fest. Are there any adjustments you need to make going from a festival to club shows?
Cory Murchy: Apart from cutting down the setlist, not too much. At the end of the day, it's another show. It's a little more winging it as far as throwing your stuff up there and playing. It's different just because you're outside during the day half the time, but at the end of the day, you just play your show. What was your experience like at the festival? It was fun [laughs]. We had a good time. There were a lot of bands playing that we wanted to see. Not every festival is created equally in that regard sometimes. We got to see a lot of old friends. It was a good time, we definitely had fun, fun, fun.
Speaking of setlists, how much of your set is comprised of new songs? We're playing a bulk of the new album. We play a lot of songs, so there's a lot of room for old songs, too. It's a well-balanced setlist.
How have fans been responding to the songs from Infinity Overhead? Great. It's been really great. I think this album really lends itself to the live setting pretty well and yeah, it's been a lot of fun playing them live.
In previous interviews, you said that Infinity Overhead comes the closest of all of your albums to capturing your live sound. How do you feel it accomplishes that? I think we're just playing tighter. We played a lot tighter in the studio for a lot of stuff. I think it's also just almost 12 years of playing together and knowing a lot more of what we want to get out of the studio as opposed to when I first started recording with the band, I didn't know what I wanted to do and how I could explain it to make it come across. It's just 12 years of plugging away and learning anything else [laughs].
I see you worked with Matt Bayles again. Did he help bring some of that to the table as well? Oh yeah. We're all really comfortable with Matt, he knows the band like no other because he was in the band. There's not a lot of trying to figure out our vibes, we know how we all work and we do it well and pretty efficiently when it comes down to it. It was really fun, actually. It was nice to take the time off and not do Omni with him, but I think it made coming back and working with him on this that much better because we were all able to bring something new to the table. Tell me a little bit about the song "Steel and Blood." What inspired it and what is going on in the music video? Jake [Snider, singer/guitarist] wrote all the lyrics for the songs, so he's probably better adept at answering that question. That said, I've heard him talk about it in interviews as far as it's written about watching a relationship from the outside and how things can be pretty dramatic and kind of acting as a car crash. The video was the concept of the director. We wanted to do something darker and kind of different and break out of the box. And yeah, we think it was accomplished.
You guys recently celebrated your 10-year anniversary as a band. What as kept you going for so long? I think we all have the same vision as far as wanting to do this for as long as it's making us happy and fun. So far so good, we're lucky it's turned into our jobs and we're stoked for that and really, it's just awesome that we can do this. Do what we love and make it work to where we can make this our full time job. We have a good time.
It sounds like it's just gotten easier for you, especially with songwriting. I don't know if it ever becomes easier, it always comes with it's own set of work, but yeah, we've gotten it to a point where we know what we can do and we try to do it. You guys tour pretty relentlessly. Is it exhausting? It's definitely exhausting. We're trying different things out like breaking up tours and that seems to be working out pretty well. But yeah, we've spent the better part of ten years on the road, really when it comes down to it. It's always been an evolving landscape, so you've got to go with the flow.
Your song titles and album titles tend to be pretty funny. Is that something you set out to do? Yeah, it just depends. We've kind of gotten away from the silly song titles much to the chagrin of a lot of our fans, but it became easier to just name songs after things that actually were relevant to the songs.
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I read that listening to Nirvana was kind of an "a-ha" moment for you. Did listening to them motivate you to start writing music? Oh yeah, totally. They were the band for me that was like 'hey, anyone can do this and it doesn't have to be perfect.' Simple songs can be really great and more complex than the basic technical sometimes so yeah, they were a big influence for sure.
Minus the Bear is scheduled to perform at Marquee Theatre on Thursday, November 8 with Cursive and Girl in a Coma.