Minus the Bear are thrilled to share their new single, “Viaduct,” the latest offering from their forthcoming EP, Fair Enough, which is due out October 19th on Suicide Squeeze Records. The song premieres today on Revolver, who hail it as “a warm and catchy track propelled by jaw-dropping, shimmering guitar lines,” another “banger” delivered by the “guitar-virtuoso post-punk favorites” ahead of their final EP. The band is also excited to announce a charity auction they’re partnering on with MusiCares, a nonprofit that provides support and community services to musicians in need of medical, personal and financial assistance. Today, Minus the Bear launch an auction for the first in a series of four original paintings by artist and Minus the Bear bassist Cory Murchy, created for the cover of Fair Enough. Cory has the following to share on his thoughts behind the painting and EP cover art:
“It was important for me to create a cover relevant to the band and our history, as well as something strong enough to stand on its own artistic merit. The picture we used for our first EP was a blurry photo of the band walking through the forest. We were grainy and not so well defined, monochromatic, youthful. This painting is a response to those same young men and the 17 year-long journey they took together. The human figures, now much more defined, have been replaced by shapes that are now finding their own colors to live in. Much less unified but still working within each other’s orbit. The wonder of the woods has been replaced with a milled piece of working lumber. It’s a representation of who we’ve become as individuals and I think it reflects the music in a lot of the same ways. Distilled by time and purpose.”
MusiCares holds a special place in Cory's heart, as he personally benefited from their aid while struggling with a chronic back injury. You can learn more about MusiCares at www.grammy.com/musicares. For more about Cory Murchy and his paintings, go to www.cmurchy.com.
This past July, the band announced their breakup in tandem with a final farewell tour, which kicks off in Nashville on October 9th and culminates with three sold out shows in their hometown of Seattle on December 14th, 15th and 16th. Since their first shows in 2001, the Seattle group have been thrilling crowds with their virtuosic songwriting and play from Los Angeles, New York, London and Tokyo, to Jimmy Kimmel Live and Bonnaroo. Their melding of genres and innovative use of pedals, loops, and electronic elements in their music has been a defining contribution to indie rock in the mp3 and streaming era, and an influence on the band’s peers and those that followed in their wake.
Minus the Bear is a product of the first two tumultuous decades of this century. From their first show in 2001 to their impending dissolution at the end of 2018, the Seattle band thrived on the musical awakening in the era of the mp3, the internet, poptimism, and the endless cross-pollinations generated from an expanded consciousness of new forms of music. With the aim of sounding like “classic rock from the future,” they initially forged their music from the dichotomous blend of David Knudson’s prodigious finger-tapped guitar lines and Jake Snider’s cool-tempered narratives set against a backdrop of souped-up dance beats. Throughout their career, spanning six full-length albums and a raft of EPs, singles and split 7”s, they’ve carried on the trailblazing traditions of ‘70s prog rockers and guitar-centric indie rock pioneers of the ‘80s and ‘90s, but they’ve also always been a band of new sounds. Synths, drum machine break beats, omnichords, and pedalboard gadgetry all contribute to the band’s electronic flourishes. You can hear the poptimist appreciation for a club banger, a new wave hook, or a solid hip-hop beat in any number of their songs. And with their final EP, Fair Enough, Minus the Bear closes the book on their inimitable hybrid of scholarly art-rock, breezy indie pop, and warehouse party appeal.
One of the first tracks written for their last album VOIDS was “Fair Enough”, a reserved track that went through a variety of permutations before winding up on the backburner. Like most Minus the Bear songs, it began as a loose framework of interlocking guitar parts created by Knudson that quickly changed shape as the other members contributed their parts. “It’s interesting because we tried re-doing it twice in the studio,” says keyboardist/vocalist Alex Rose. “I was really into the first new direction as it was very pop, but collectively it didn't seem to fit. Then we tried a more ambient one… it just ended up being one of those songs that didn't beat the others.” But as the band was digging through their archives earlier this year, they stumbled upon an early version of the song. “It jumped out as sounding done,” Rose recalls. “I touched up the mix, fixed a few edits and sent it to everyone while we were on the recent Planet of Ice anniversary tour. The other guys all listened together and by all accounts had ‘a moment.’ I think the song had taken on new meaning after we decided to end the band.” Given Snider’s prescient lyrical lament of lost passions and finding “the exact moment we turned it off,” it’s hardly surprising to hear that the song resonates strongly within the group. Snider insists it was written to eulogize a failed romantic relationship, but it’s hard to not hear the lyrics as foreshadowing the band’s break-up.
The other three songs of Fair Enough are both a continuation and a culmination of Minus the Bear’s diverse sounds. The adrenalized up-tempo drumbeats, lush electronics, and nimble guitar work that initially set them apart from their peers back in 2001 are on full display during “Viaduct”. It certainly sounds like the same band that wrote “Monkey!!!Knife!!!Fight!!!”, but with a whole new arsenal of tricks, techniques, and toys to embellish the sound. “Dinosaur” has the punctuated groove of early hits of “Fine + 2 PTS ”, but crafted with the understated Steely Dan-esque delivery of their more current slow jams. In keeping with their “classic rock from the future” approach, the opening keyboard line of “Dinosaur” is a ham-fisted hook originally conceived on a cheap iPhone piano app. The EP closes with a nod to their ongoing remix collaborations, this time with a vibrant rave-up reinvention of “Invisible” by Sombear.
The EP album art comes courtesy of bassist Cory Murchy. “The picture on our first EP—This Is What I Know About Being Gigantic—was a blurry photo of the band walking through the forest,” Murchy explains. “The cover to Fair Enough is a nod to that almost 20 years on. The figures are much more defined, coming into their own colors, a little less unified but still working within each other’s orbit. The wonder of the woods has been replaced with a milled piece of working lumber as the canvas. I think it reflects the music in a lot of the same ways—distilled by time and purpose.”
Minus the Bear are a band born in the new millennium, when the gateways to cult artists were blown open by the internet, rock’s purist aesthetic rules were challenged, and technological advancements completely altered the way we create and consume music. If there was some middle ground to be found between King Crimson’s fretboard gymnastics, Midwest indie rock’s cerebral songcraft, Warp Records’ glitchy compositions, and FM radio’s current bump-and-grind staples, Minus the Bear staked it out first. Suicide Squeeze is proud to release Fair Enough on October 19, 2018. Fair Enough will be available on CD, digital formats, and as a 12” cut at 45rpm. The initial vinyl run consists of 2000 copies on coke bottle green and 1000 copies on black.