Minus the Bear Q&A
Minus the Bear (from left): Cory Murchy, Jake Snider, Alex Rose, Dave Knudson and Erin Tate.
Download the new single, “My Time,” for FREE here.
Prior to their Thursday, March 18, performance at Filter’s Showdown at Cedar Street, Minus the Bear bassist Cory Murchy and guitarist Dave Knudson chatted with Fender News. Check out the conversation …
FN: I was just reading this story about where the name Minus of the Bear came from—a date?
DK: Yeah, it was a good date. You can find it on Spin.com, but basically a buddy at the bar went out on this date and then made a comment about it.
CM: If you really want to know, you’ve got to look for it because we don’t like to really say it.
FN: Well, it’s from the ’70s show B.J. and the Bear, right? Something about someone saying like the show, but minus the bear?
DK: Yeah, take away the bear and you are left with the …
FN: Wow, that went over my head. I was focused on the “bear” part. OK, so it’s crude. I see why you didn’t want to tell me.
FN: So what’s a must-do/must-have during SXSW?
DK: We haven’t been to Iron Works (Iron Works Barbecue in downtown Austin).
CM: It’ll be our first experience, so something delicious and smoked, for sure.
DK: Probably some sort of pulled pork or brisket. We’ll see …
FN: You guys are repeats for the SXSW circuit right?
DK: Yes, I think this is our fourth time playing SXSW. We did ’02, ’04, ’06 and skipped ’08, and now we’re back for 2010.
FN: So what advice do you have for first timers?
CM: Go with the flow, man. You are going to break your neck if you try to make everything.
DK: Yeah, because you really get here and you’re like, “Let’s party,” and then you are wrecked for the next couple of days.
CM: So pace yourself.
FN: Talk about the opportunity for bands to showcase here at SXSW. Seems like it grows bigger every year …
DK: To me it’s cool to see all of these international bands—there are a couple of Norwegian bands here. I feel like it’s a pretty diverse festival, and it’s so nice having everything in the same area and centralized, so it makes it easier to catch a lot of bands. It definitely helped us in 2002. We were no one and we had a great couple of shows and played with American Analog Set, and that was awesome. I’ve been a big fan of theirs for a long time, so that was pretty cool. Now we’re playing Stubbs this time, so we’re kind of moving up the rungs of the SXSW ladder, I suppose.
CM: It’s that iconic place to go play for SXSW, so getting in there on a Saturday night was kind of exciting, definitely.
DK: Yeah—we saw the Supersuckers there for one of their country brunches at SXSW one year, and that was really great. It’ll be exciting to play there.
CM: Plus, it gets back to our whole smoked thing with the barbecue.
FN: You guys have a new album coming out on May 4—Omni.
CM: We’re excited to get it out there. We started last April and we went into the summer, and it was definitely the longest recording process. We had Joe Chiccarelli producing it and kind of at the helm. That was a great learning experience for us. So we’re just excited to finally get it out there. We’re excited for the fans to check it out.
DK: It took a little time to find the right label to go to. That was a big thing because we were done with our wonderful contract with Suicide Squeeze Records, who are an amazing label, but we felt maybe it was the time to move onto something else. We just wanted to make sure we found a label that wouldn’t be vanished in a year and risk not having our record available anymore. So it took time to find a great home, and we did with Dangerbird, so we’re really pumped with that.
It was an amazing experience working with Joe. We hadn’t really worked with anyone else besides Matt (Bayles), who was in the band, so he obviously had his own perceptions of the band and people as players, whereas Joe was completely fresh and didn’t have any ideas about how someone was going to play or X, Y and Z. So there was a fresh approach in that way, and then we tracked a lot of stuff live as opposed to overdubbing everything, so there’s a lot more energy in the recording.
FN: How have you guys progressed as a group?
CM: I think it’s a maturity of feeling where we are. The last record was kind of prog-y, and went on, and we kind of had a lot of fun indulging and doing whatever we wanted. We did that with this record, but we were able to take some outside influences and suggestions and ideas from Joe and it was good to have a different ear on it and gives us a perspective we don’t always see, especially going into the recording process. We might see it later after people have reacted to the record and live shows, but it was good to get that initial outside view.
DK: I think it’s also, sound-wise, groovy. That’s such a weird word to use, but the songs have more groove. There’s more soul in the songs than we’ve had before. I think there’s a little bit of R&B influence that came into this record that hasn’t necessarily been present before because we were on this spastic, let’s-go-crazy-and-write-a-’70s-prog-rock-record. You can dance to it a lot better.
FN: What were some of the R&B influences?
DK: Erin and Alex are totally into hip-hop/R&B. I got into a crazy ’70s funk phase, and that probably had something to do with my playing.
CM: We love all the ’60s Motown and Stax, and that whole ’60s soul and R&B. Also a lot of reggae and Jamaican music, too.
FN: Are you guys rolling out the new material here at SXSW?
CM: We’re playing a bunch of new songs. That was definitely an emphasis down here. It’s a perfect opportunity down here because there’s a lot of people who either have or have not followed the band, and this is where we’re at, so it’s good and exciting to be able to get that new stuff out now with so many ears available.
Minus the Bear bassist Cory Murchy at Filter’s Showdown at Cedar Street during SXSW.
FN: If someone misses you at SXSW, you’ll be embarking on a new spring tour, right?
DK: Yeah, April 19, I think, and then back in the end of May in Seattle, and we’ll be touring for the next year and a half.
CM: This is the start of the cycle.
DK: Yeah, day one of the next year and a half of our lives. Normally when you get the record done, the label is like, “Get this fucker out as fast as possible.” But this—we had to sit on it, so we are chomping at the bit to get it out and get on the road.
FN: What’s a must-have for touring?
DK: Probably my iPhone. I can get clothes anywhere; I can get toiletries. You really just need your phone.
CM: Yeah, that’s about it. I didn’t bring much – just socks and underwear. Levi’s is hooking us up with clothes later (Levi’s Fader Fort), so we don’t really need much.
FN: What about gear? We hear, Dave, that you’ve got a Jaguar® baritone you’re pretty happy with.
DK: On a tour a couple of years ago, we were in Santa Cruz and I went to this guitar shop next to the venue, and there was this awesome Jaguar reissue baritone. And I was like, “Yes.”
CM: The thing is bitchin’.
DK: It just sounds so awesome—a baritone, in general—just the way that it sounds when you are translating everything down to B instead of E. It just gives everything a whole different tonality. A couple of days later we were still on that tour, and I think we were at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma—this kind of weird theater with a skate park inside—and I ended up writing the riff for “Secret Country,” a song out on the new record.
FN: What about you, Cory?
CM: I always like a Fender P-Bass®; that’s always been the bass I like the most in terms of the sound and diversity. Also, my dad gave me his old ’60s Strat®. He’s a musician and he played it for years. I knew I’d get it when he was dead, but he gave it to me one Christmas and it totally just shocked me. But it was because he’s really proud of what we’re doing and that we’re able to do this. So it was a big honor. It’s my most meaningful instrument, even though I don’t really play it in the band. I think I used it once for a b-side––“Cat Calls & Ill Means,” a digital bonus track on iTunes for (third album) Planet of Ice that we did, and that was fun, but just because it’s been the one that’s been around the longest. I remember as a kid having that in my hand, and it has dings from me knocking it over. It’s not perfect, but it’s great.
Download the new single from Minus the Bear, “My Time,” for FREE here.