After touring and recording together for nearly a decade, Seattle band Minus the Bear has seen and done it all. Their music has been described as everything from progressive, indie and grunge rock to disco-tinged funky jam band. Too eclectic to be easily labeled, Minus the Bear has proved its flexibility and willingness to take chances as they develop as a band.
“I think the cool part about the group is that we all have different influences that we bring together,” bassist Cory Murchy said. “I don’t think there’s really one artist in particular that influences us.”
The band met each other through Seattle's music scene, and came together to create music back in 2001. Since then, its music has matured and changed, as is evident just by looking at the song titles, which have developed from names on past albums like “Hey, Wanna Throw Up? Get me Naked” to more grown-up titles from their new album Omni, including “Into the Mirror” and “Fooled by the Night.”
Minus the Bear’s new album Omni has faced tough criticism from fans and music critics (Pitchfork gave it a 3.5 out of 10), but Murchy said the new album has several differences from past albums that should be embraced.
“We recorded this album live and worked with an outside director to develop it,” he said. “This album took the longest to record out of all of our records -- we started recording in April and didn’t finish until August.”
The outside director they worked with on this album is producer Joe Chiccarelli, who has produced bands like My Morning Jacket and The Shins.
“I think Omni definitely has the stamp of Joe on it,” Murchy said. “That was really the point of bringing someone else in. We wanted to change things up a bit.”
Omni is characterized by more R&B-esque riffs and sexier lyrics than past Minus the Bear albums.
“We were totally listening to more R&B and funk and I think that definitely shows in this album,” Murchy said.
He explained that Omni was recorded live, in hopes of bringing some of the character and energy of their live performances to their fans.
“Our live shows are great because we’re all there in the flesh, sweating and drawing energy from the crowd,” Murchy said. “It’s always fun to play live just for the huge energy there.”
After being together for so long, the band has gained a lot of experience, but what some may describe as experienced others call jaded.
Perhaps the band has a reason to be cocky, as their new album has propelled them closer to mainstream music and more fame. Omni reached No. 49 on U.S. Billboard charts and No. 8 in top alternative albums — numbers that far surpass their albums in the past. As the band inches closer and closer to a larger, more mainstream fan base, some older fans are crying “sell out,” but Murchy said he thinks otherwise.
“I don’t think we’ve really changed our sound as a band,” he said. “We’ve done a really good job of staying Minus the Bear. I just think with each album we try to grow as a band.”
Minus the Bear will play at 7 p.m. Sunday at The Blue Note.