Minus the Bear; is there really anything else that needs to be said about this band? Probably not, but Scene Point Blank caught up with bassist Cory Murchy during the at the Cleveland stop of their headlining tour to discuss the band's acoustic EP and other happenings.
Scene Point Blank: A little over a week into the tour, how are things going so far? Is it good to be back on the road again?
Cory Murchy: Good. We were home for the Summer for the most part; we did a few flight-outs. It's always nice to get back on the road. It's always nice to get back to the Grog Shop. It's one of those fun places that we always like to play.
Scene Point Blank: Now you've played smaller setting shows like the ones here at the Grog Shop but you've also played larger venues such as House of Blues. Which do you prefer, the more intimate or the larger-sized?
Cory Murchy: They're just different. They're both really fun. It just kind of depends. Something like this will be small and in your face and intense. Where as the theater stuff has a little bit more of a distance but is also awesome because its on a bigger, grander scale. They're both awesome; you just have to pull different things from them.
Scene Point Blank: The band recorded a few acoustic sessions earlier this year - Daytrotter, Alternative Press. Was the positive response to these sessions what inspired the band to record and release Acoustics?
Cory Murchy: Definitely. I think we got a lot of offers from radio shows and different things - AP and Daytrotter - to do things in an acoustic manner. For a long time, we just said no to things like that automatically. And finally we decided, lets just see what we can do with this, lets see what the songs sound like acoustic. So we did it and we started doing the acoustic things and it was kind of a nice refreshing way to look at the songs - even old songs - to where it felt valid enough to go back to those old songs and to look at them in different light - to strip away all the electronics and pedals and stuff.
Scene Point Blank: Do you think you picked the right songs to appear on the release?
Cory Murchy: I think so and I think we managed to hit most of the songs we wanted. There was, "Oh we should have tried to go over this or that." But it came down to a matter of time, because we were also in the process of getting ready for the tour and a load of other shit going on. But we were stoked to get the songs done that we did in a different way to look at the songs. Kind of in the way that the remix record allowed us to look at the songs with a different set of headphones on. It was really cool. And it's been really great and inspiring that we can actually write songs in this way. Stuff like that keeps things fresh, and even old stuff kind of fresh.
Scene Point Blank: The EP contains one new song. Was it written as an acoustic song first or was it written as a regular song and then transferred to acoustic setting?
Cory Murchy: You know, I think it kind of came out as an eclectic jam that Dave probably came up with and started working on and then we all came to it. And I think we transposed it to an acoustic thing kind of quickly because I think it lends itself to that.
Scene Point Blank: Are you playing the new song live on this tour?
Cory Murchy: We are, we've been playing three acoustic songs a night, which has been kind of fun to take the eclectic out. I'm still playing an electric bass though, but in the shape or form of acoustic songs.
Scene Point Blank: How have things been with the acoustic songs being played live?
Cory Murchy: It's been fun and the response has been good. I think we're playing a couple of the songs tonight.
Scene Point Blank: When listening, there are some modifications to the songs, "Burying Luck" with pianos for example. How much consideration went into the changes made to the songs?
Cory Murchy: I think it was when we sat down it just naturally needed to be there. Some songs, the guitars really took over, some songs the piano took over, some songs the bass really shined. It all kind of worked out to where it was neat to hear different things. There is so much going on in the records, it was neat to kind of deconstruct them and be like, "You know that part that you kind of knew was there, here it is kind of a little bit more emphasized."
Scene Point Blank: Recording-wise, did you guys record in a live setting or piece-by-piece?
Cory Murchy: For this one we definitely wanted to get the feel of us sitting down playing together. For the most part we did that. There were definitely some overdubs here and there. But most of the stuff we tried to get good solid takes and kind of piece it together.
Scene Point Blank: As opposed to the previous albums that were recorded in pieces?
Cory Murchy: Yeah. Doing records is always different each time. There is definitely a lot of piece by piece. There are a lot of really great things you can do; we're always learning.
Scene Point Blank: The EP was self-released. Will we see future self-released recordings similar to Isis with their live recordings?
Cory Murchy: I don't know. It's kind of an experience to see what the response is. It's just something we wanted to do. Regardless of the response it was something that we wanted to do. It's cool so far to do it. It seems like, why not? We don't have anything tying us to a certain label or anything. On that same note, Suicide Squeeze is going to put the vinyl out for it eventually, which is cool. Who knows? It's be cool to release stuff like that - shows, all sorts of different things. If the kids are into listening to it, then yeah.
Scene Point Blank: You've got a split 7" with These Arms are Snakes in the works. Are you also recording a cover song for this?
Cory Murchy: Yeah, we're both doing covers. It's going to be awesome. We actually haven't recorded it yet; we need to record it soon.
Scene Point Blank: So you have the song chosen?
Cory Murchy: We do, it's going to be awesome.
Scene Point Blank: But you're not going to tell what it is yet?
Cory Murchy: It's a rad old? yeah, it's awesome. It's going to be fun.
Scene Point Blank: So anyone that appreciates your sound will be into it?
Cory Murchy: Yeah, I think so.
Scene Point Blank: After Menos el Oso there was a remix album, are there plans for another remix album for songs from "Planet of Ice" in the future?
Cory Murchy: We haven't really planned on that, but probably not. I always love to hear remixes of songs, and I'm sure some will come up, but no plans for a full on remix album.
Scene Point Blank: With bands like Radiohead posting the different stems of songs online for remixes, have you thought about doing that?
Cory Murchy: Yeah, we're thinking about all sorts of stuff. Who knows, we haven't gotten into any plans, but ideas like that are always popping around. What if we do this? Or do that?
Scene Point Blank: Seems like there is a lot more freedom for artists in that fashion these days. Do you attribute that to anything specifically?
Cory Murchy: There is so much. The market is so saturated with everything. It's very indicative of everything going on. It's saturated with so much shit. Some of it you need, some of it you want, and some of it you don't ever need to hear? but it's valid for someone or something. It's like?. Wow, I just got off on a tangent. What was the original question? Haha.
Scene Point Blank: Band are a lot more free to do things on their own?
Cory Murchy: It definitely forces you to figure out different avenues and get creative for sure. Peoples attention spans are like thirty seconds. The ability to find out or get that information is that quick?it's 50/50 if its accurate or not. But it's there and you have an image and audio and something to go from. Which is insane and crazy. It's changed so much in the last fifteen years. I sound like an old man saying that, but it's true. So its cool, it does force you to figure out other things. And it'll be interesting to see what will happen. Will we do more releases on ours own? Maybe. It's cool; it's been fun so far. That kind of stuff went away for a bit, or maybe it didn't? I don't know. There is always new stuff coming.
Scene Point Blank: The band has remained with Suicide Squeeze even with the increased exposure - such as the MTV feature artist deal. What makes staying with Suicide Squeeze the opportune relationship for you guys as opposed to any other offers that have been made?
Cory Murchy: We've worked really well together. Both the label and the band have grown. Both have helped each other out. They're really rare in that they're totally standup and with the business they're on top of things. They're good to their bands. It's not that there is a shit-ton amount of money to throw at bands but they take care of them. A lot of labels will take money and throw it into another. They're just really standup people and they run a fine label. And great bands.
Scene Point Blank: They've got a unique spectrum of sounds.
Cory Murchy: Totally, which people always ask us about the Seattle scene. Suicide Squeeze is a perfect example of what it is like, it's pretty eclectic. There is all sorts of shit. There are other things besides Seattle bands on that label, but its kind of a good representation of what is going on. Suicide Squeeze is awesome.
Scene Point Blank: With the exception of High Refined Pirates the band makes use of intra-band recording production. Do you ever feel that not having an outside perspective hinders the band's recordings?
Cory Murchy: I think it is definitely something that we talked about and wanted to explore again. On the last couple of albums its been really good for us to just do it as a band. Matt was still involved even though he wasn't playing keyboards, Chris Common as well. All of us were a team and a unit and we kind of knew how everyone worked and that worked really well. I think working with someone else would be really exciting, several others maybe. We definitely talked about it, "Who would you want?" I couldn't give you a list. There are people out there, why not? See what they have to say to get that outside point of view. Especially now, more than ever we know what we want, we are more cohesive on what we want the end product to sound like. Before it might not have worked as well as we weren't as sure on what we wanted as a band.
Scene Point Blank: Minus the Bear's sound is really unique and quite layered, particularly on "Planet of Ice." What's the writing process like for you guys? Each person brings their own pieces or are their primary songwriters?
Cory Murchy: It's always been really collaborative, we all kind of arrange and help piece things together. Nowadays, a lot of times, everyone is in a room together hacking it out. Dave still comes up with a lot of riffs and we'll just start on something. Eric will start hitting and we all start throwing our thoughts out. So it's good, pretty collaborative. Dave is a pretty busy writing riff. He and Eric work pretty well with arranging, but we all put our magic on it.
Scene Point Blank: Whenever Minus the Bear goes on tour, it seems to me that you guys are always taking out less than familiar artists as opposed to getting packaged together on some hyped super-tour. How much input do you guys have in who you tour with?
Cory Murchy: We're pretty involved. We definitely like to bring and be out with our friends. We're lucky in that we've met people through the years that play music and are in bands. For the most part we like to bring our friends out and we're luck that they make really rad music too. It all kind of goes back to the Seattle thing, not all the bands we tour with are from Seattle, but everyone is playing different stuff and doing different styles. And that's who we are as people, we like listening to all kinds of different stuff, we're not a genre group at all. I don't think you can put the band in any certain or particular genre or group. It's nice top bring out bills that are diverse. It's way more interesting than having a rock show. It doesn't make any sense at all for us to do that.
Scene Point Blank: There is always a nice breakup of the supporting bands on your tours, with each only playing a week or two for the most part. Any particular reasoning for this?
Cory Murchy: It depends, the bands usually stay the whole time, but a lot of the times its just the scheduling. It's hard to say goodbye to bands. It's a bummer. It doesn't make it easy when there are a lot of friends but its great to be able to travel around together.
Scene Point Blank: Are there any bands you are itching to take out or tour with?
Cory Murchy: I'd love to go out with Battles. Heartless Bastards, I think they're from Cleveland or Cincinnati.
Scene Point Blank: I know they're from Ohio...
Cory Murchy: But I love them. There are lots of bands...those are the only ones I can think of right now.
Scene Point Blank: What record have you been listening to lately?
Cory Murchy: Just picked up this new? well old?.this guy Rodriquez? he's this 60's pop, rock, guitarist singer-songwriter. Been listening to that. A lot of dub, reggae, stuff like that. Biggie Smalls.
Scene Point Blank: Finally, why do you have the urge to create music? What do you get out of it?
Cory Murchy: I don't know. It's just that urge to create, which I feel stronger and stronger every day. Music happens to be one of those outlets. It's rad because its one of those outlets that we happen to share in front of a bunch of people that enjoy it as well. That's a pretty powerful thing. It's a powerful medium to be able to create. So that's what makes me do it. A desire and need to create. I'm lucky that people show up. I was actually thinking about it today, like walking down the street, I'd still be creating something if I weren't doing this. Whatever that desire and need to do it, it's there. And I'm guessing that's what the other guys feel. It's communication at the end of the day, which is what the world needs more of. And not everyone can communicate in this way. And I'm not saying everyone needs to get up on stage and play rock and roll. However you want to do it, communicate. In anyway that it is, as long as it is communication?say hi, check in.
Scene Point Blank: Anything else you'd like to share?
Cory Murchy: Nope, I think we got it man.
Scene Point Blank: Thanks for taking the time.
Cory Murchy: Yeah, it was cool. You're coming to the show?
Scene Point Blank: Yeah, why wouldn't I?
Cory Murchy: There have been others that have gone home to heat up pizza and watch Seinfeld.
Photos by Ryan Russell & Bryan Sheffield
- Official Website: http://www.minusthebear.com