Like many musicians, I appreciate music in any genre that involves instrumental creativity—not necessarily chops, but good, bold, unusual ideas. I like thoughtful lyrics, but also like thoughtful parts. In the indie rock genre, this level of creative musicianship is sometimes hard to find, but there’s definitely a subgenre that some might call intelligent indie rock. Sometimes it’s almost like indie prog—like prog without pomp. I’m not talking about intelligent pop (aka power pop), which is more polished-sounding and lyrically clever, less raw, less moody. I’m thinking stuff like Pele, Shudder to Think, Explosions in the Sky, and Canada’s Wooden Stars, whose last album I had the privilege of producing.
I first heard Minus the Bear last year, and was a little late to the party. The band formed in Seattle in 2001 and have released five albums and four EPs since then. Their sound is largely shaped by the innovative guitar approach of Jake Snider and Dave Knudson, who each use several looping pedals to sample and trigger hooky little guitar bits, which are sometimes played back double-speed. The effect is kind of futuristic, and adds a more produced-sounding layer to their otherwise very indie sound (sidenote: they’re both checking out the Infinity Looper, hopefully more news on that coming soon!). But the other notable thing is the fantastic and inventive rhythm section, made up of Erin Tate on drums and Cory Murchy on bass.
Cory has discovered the Bass Philosopher Compressor and Bass Fat Drive. “All these years without a compression on my pedal board and I’m stoked to finally have one! It’s exactly what I needed,” he says. “Both the Philosopher and the Fat Drive will be used on the upcoming tour and foreseeable future for that matter. I don’t know if you’ve seen my set up, but I’ve been pretty much a minimalist when it comes to this band but I’m excited to incorporate Pigtronix into the fold.”
Minus the Bear is heading out on a big North American tour this month until November, don’t miss them when they pass through where you are: Minus the Bear Fall Tour 2013