Monday, 1 October 2012
Tuesday, 25 September 2012
Hello, hope you are doing well.
October sees the release of your debut album, Everything Touching. With such success on the basis of your Ep's was there any pressure in writing the full length and did you approach the writing and recording of the album differently to how you have recorded your EP's in the past?
In terms of the recording process, it definitely differed from our first 2 EPs. To start with it was the first time we had ever worked in a proper recording studio and this had a huge impact on the way the record sounds. We had a lot more time to play with so we were able to really explore the songs and allow them to arrive at their finalised states freely rather than rushing them, so from a technical point of view the songs sound much richer and fuller.
With regards to the writing process we really wanted to try and write more immediate and consistent songs. With the first two EPs we always felt they were a little all over the place. Within songs we would have three different parts, which loosely fitted together, and then those songs themselves would each differ hugely from the other songs on the EPs they sat next to. With Everything Touching we knew what kind of album we wanted to make and the record as a whole is much more cohesive as a result.
Having heard the pre-release stream, it sounds like an evolution from the dreamy indie of previous EP's and into rockier territory. What influenced the album and how would you describe it yourselves?
Gallop is one of the lead singles from the album. Why did you choose this song to showcase the album?
Ironically though, I feel lyrically it’s the most downbeat and depressing track on the album, which makes it a slightly funny choice for a single. I think it represents the album well though and when taken out of the context of the album, it works as a stand-alone track.
Everything Touching contains two older tracks, Ode To Ancestors and Books. Why did you include these songs rather than others to put on the release?
How did you approach rewriting those two particular tracks?
We wrote Book such a long time ago, and now we’re a completely different band. We’ve always wanted to experiment with a slight orchestral sound and this song lent itself perfectly to it. It’s pretty grand and over the top now, but we feel that is the perfect backdrop for the lyrics and the book that inspired it. It’s a song we cannot wait to perform live, and hopefully one day with an orchestra.
Everything Touching is available for pre-order in many different formats and bundles. Can you tell us why you are releasing the album in so many ways, and what a fan will get for their money?
Simply put, without people buying our records we physically couldn’t afford to exist as a band. We don’t have a major label pumping money into us, so all our profits that we make by selling merchandise enable us to function as a band. Hopefully it can be seen as a symbiotic relationship between our fans and us. We create things worth having, and they give us the much needed money that helps us keep on playing.
You've spent a summer in the midst of the festival season. It's such a huge change in terms of volume from a small club gig, how do you prepare playing a large stage to vast amounts of people?
That being said though, a really tiny sweaty club show can be just as immense.
Since your first gig, playing a house party in Falmouth, how do you think you've improved performance wise? Has the ethos to your performances changed at all as the band have become more successful?
We take performing a lot more seriously now. We used to drink loads and just fuck about because we felt uncomfortable being on stage, but now we don’t drink beforehand as a rule. So yeah it’s more professional, we’re more confident and we’re also, maybe, just maybe, a tad more competent as musicians though that’s definitely open to debate.
You have a fifteen date UK tour to promote the album. If someone hasn't seen you live before, what can they expect from your live shows?
Thank you for your time, and good luck with the album!
Wednesday, 12 September 2012
I can say without any hint of a lie that standout track The Messengers with its doo-doo-doo-woah-woah-woah vocal melody has stayed in my head for days, constantly flicking my ears and forcing me to listen again. Imagine Jack Johnson, perhaps the epitome of summer music a few years ago, mold that with Ben Howard and multiply infectiousness by a million and you might get close to what this track is about. Other tracks such as You’re My Eyes showcase Tauber as a sensitive, almost downbeat lyricist and I’m sure that deep down, there might be a poet hiding in there somewhere. Where Ok. Today excels though is in Taubers intelligence of knowing how to enhance a melody. Vocal overdubs, pianos, organs and my personal favourite, the harmonica, are all used but delicately so, enhancing each track without ever falling into the trap of over doing it.
So what’s the catch? If something sounds too good to be true it usually is, so here it is...Ok. Today is perhaps too nice. No kid will be buying this album like I did with Wu Tang Clan to piss their mum off. In fact, your mum will probably like to listen along to this with you, maybe your grandma will too. I can’t condemn anyone for being universal unless they are genuinely writing poor music and with Ok. Today that isn’t the case and if you need any proof of this, here’s some for you: Ok. Today has been on constant repeat for a week now, and I’m still not tired of it.
4 / 5
Wednesday, 5 September 2012
Being a spoken word artist myself, people keep telling me that they 'don't get it' but I'm of the impression that it's very much like general music. Just like music, if it's done well, it can truly move you to the core, and not unlike music, if it isn't done well you can come across sounding like a twelve year old who had to grudgingly write something last minute as homework for a class you hate.
Luckily for Aaron Kent and his spoken-word album, 'Imminent Conversations' he falls in the doing it well category. With his acapella hip-hop vocal delivery Kent works across a breadth of themes, from society’s misgivings to his own adolescence, often being profound and frequently comical in the process. Stand-out track 'There is a Poverty Line' highlights the bleak financial state that we find ourselves in, "I can barely afford to live, let alone afford to give" while 'A Fair and Equal Society' attacks everything from the emphasis on dieting to journalism (perhaps this is where I should hide?), "They print the news that suits their truth, a version that moves sales and not you, hash tag news to trivialize the truth, if you've got a view it's yours to tweet - or lose". Kent is at his best however, when he is at his most personal, like on track 'Intermittent Conversations', a story of a fathers adultery and the effect on the family which rings so true to me that I can't help but feel sick to my stomach.
'Imminent Conversations' is a great example of spoken word done to a high standard. I could say that it isn't for all of you but it is, there is something on here that we could all relate to if given the chance. At such a young age, with 'Imminent Conversations' Aaron Kent is demonstrating that he is a voice for the affected youth. Let him be heard.
Tuesday, 4 September 2012
It seems the easy thing to do these days, to pick up a guitar and play a few notes, belt a few chords out and shout a couple of words but to actually affect someone, that's the hard task. I hadn't heard Keaton Henson before I listened to The Lucky EP and I reacted in a manner that I rarely do, posting Henson's videos to all my Facebook friends and then going out to my local HMV to buy the full length album.
The Lucky EP isn't rocket science. One man and his guitar, but it's how its approached that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. From the haunting first strums on opener 'You Don't Know How Lucky You Are' and the fragile vocals of Henson that at times sounds as if they are breaking before your very ears, you wonder if it physically destroyed Henson to play these songs. Follow up track 'To Your Health' is phenomenal in equal measure with its disparate plucked guitar melody as Henson emotionally tells a forlorn love story; "Make mine a pain in the neck, here's to you, you old wreck, mine is a thorn in the side, drink up so we can both finally die" and it only gets better from there with a downbeat cover of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s track ‘Maps’.
At times this four track EP can feel like a car wreck of emotional instability recorded for your, well, strange enjoyment. I mean that in a good way because while you feel some sense of guilt benefitting from someone's excruciating pain this EP is nothing short of encapsulating. Keaton Henson just made it on my records of the year list.
5 / 5
Expectation has an effect on a bands output. When The Antlers released small scale concept album Hospice, brilliant as it was, no-one really expected anything that was part of its charm and brilliance. Follow up album Burst Apart may not have been a soul destroying concept piece like Hospice but it still marked a heavy change for the band who found themselves at the top of many writers’ album lists of the year. Undersea, the fourth EP from The Antlers, and the first release since the increasingly popular Burst Apart has a lot to live up to then.
If you were expecting a return to the lo-fi indie sound of Hospice then be disappointed. Undersea and its four tracks; Drift Dive, Endless Ladder, Crest and Zelda are perhaps an extension of the departure from that sound already made with Burst Apart. Peter Silberman's breathy vocals are still the forefront of this bands prowess but guitars have taken a back seat often overshadowed by melancholy trumpet melodies and synthesizer sounds that seem to be the sole reason why the EP was called Underwater, as they literally make you wonder whether you've dropped your headphones in a sink full of water. Out of the four tracks Crest is probably the most accomplished with a sound that rekindles the almost jazz trip-hop ethos that Portishead achieved on debut album Dummy (and perhaps arguably never achieved again), it's the sort of melody that is just dying to be used on an advert and given the increasing popularity of the band, I'll be very surprised if it isn't.
I must admit, I'm a bit of a fan boy of The Antlers and found this release slightly disappointing. Apart from Crust and the Godfather-esque beginning notes to Zelda there doesn't seem a whole lot to force me back into re-listening to this EP. That said though, I felt the same about Burst Apart and then six months on it finally hit me and I couldn't stop listening. I only hope that the same happens again, and if it doesn't, I hope this doesn't mark itself as a pre-curser to the bands next full length.
3 / 5
Wednesday, 15 August 2012
There’s a strange art to opening a show. Sadly, I turned up late so I wasn’t completely able to see whether Torbay’s recently reformed six piece Chick Rides Artist had this talent. In the four songs I did manage to see Chick Rides Artist conveyed a well-rehearsed emo-hardcore cross over sound that although perhaps not memorable, did its job of warming up the sadly small crowd for what was to come and showed the Devon boys as a band to watch out for in the future.
Flood of Red have been around a long, long time. Their experience on the circuit showed as the Scottish band breezed with ease through a set of songs from their 2009 debut, Leaving Everything Behind, as well as new material soon to be featured on a forthcoming EP. Mysteriously, many of the band members had their backs to the crowd for most of their set, whether this was due to stage and gear limitations or something else we will never know. Endearingly it showed the members singularing personalities, allowing for a hyperactive bass player who did everything from stumbling around to putting his bass guitar up into the ceiling, to take centre stage as the band tore through their guitar heavy, synth dip-dyed Saosin-esque emotional sound that is criminally underrated.
Nearing the end their set, Night Verses vocalist Douglas Robinson tells the crowd that tonight is only the bands twelve gig. Sure, those gigs include a big slot at this year’s Hevy Festival but that just shows how far the band have come in such a short space of time. Tonight’s set was perhaps the smallest of their shows so far but the band do not care with Robinson taking a break between songs to genuinely thank the crowd for coming. Performing songs from their free to download EP, as well as tracks not yet recorded, the band feverishly created a sound that both technically and sonically amounted to much more than just the sum of their four parts. Robinson himself span around until drenched in his own sweat, while drummer Aric Improta seemed to spend more time hyperactively jumping up off his stool than beating his drums leaving us all going The Sleeping who? I can only guess what happened next, I imagine the appreciative crowd did exactly what I did and went home to tell their friends that as of right now, for gig of the year, this is the one to beat.
Monday, 13 August 2012
Amusing titles like "You Kill Bugs Good, Man" left in the past. Groove orientated, summery feel good songs gone. Even, the trippy guitar psych-prog sound of Planet of Ice have been replaced by the electronic tones of OMNI. So what is left for Minus The Bear to do? Well, go back to what we would expect it would seem...
In the lead-up to the release of Minus The Bear's forthcoming album, Infinity Overhead, guitarist/vocalist Jake Snider said that Minus The Bear were officially back. Infinity Overhead may not have the long movie inspired titles that Highly Refined Pirates possessed but it shares the same emphasis. A million miles from last release, the highly disappointing OMNI, Infinity Overhead is closer to home when put beside Menos El Oso. Guitar driven, songs like Listing are absolutely drenched to the bone in gloriously sweet melodies that sweep you off your feet while lead single Lonely Gun shows that Minus The Bear haven't lost their touch in writing something that is both progressive and poppy, proving that even on their fifth album they have the ability to create unpredictable music. The stand-out track though is a slow one, Heaven is a Ghost Town. It is neither progressive, nor poppy and yet is a standalone reason why five albums on, if someone mentions Minus The Bear, I am instantly paying attention. Truly showing the vast improvement in vocals Snider has made since the bands early days, simple guitar chords are enhanced by deliciously low key electronics bringing out Sniders almost anti-religious lyrics.
Here's the big spin right here. OMNI wasn't good. At the point of hearing it I was lost as a Minus The Bear fan. Infinity Overhead isn't just a great return to form; it's possibly one of the albums of the year and shows that if there's any justice in the music industry Minus The Bear will stick around for a bit longer.
4 / 5
Infinity Overhead is available from August 28th.
Thursday, 9 August 2012
Progressing as a band is one of the toughest parts about being a band. On the one hand your fans always hold that nostalgic memory of a certain album close to their heart and don't ever want you to change your style, while on the other if you tried copying that album every two years eventually your fans would grow bored.
In Menos El Oso, Minus The Bear created an album that for myself, and many of my friends may I add, was perfect. Bypass Planet of Ice, a more prog Minus The Bear and you find yourself at OMNI. Here Minus The Bear firmly dipped their toes into electronic water, so firmly in fact that they did some form of shock dance in the middle of the ocean and sadly I must say, left myself and many other fans lost and stranded from what the band were trying to achieve.
September marks the release of Infinity Overhead, Minus The Bear's first album since the 'risky' OMNI and I caught up with bassist Cory Murchy to discuss the new album, how it pits up against previous work and whether OMNI was just one big mistake.
It feels like forever since you’ve released an album, welcome back!
Thanks, a lot has happened in the years since OMNI. We are excited!
It’s been said that Infinity Overhead is a return to the Minus The Bear we know. How do you feel about your previous full-length, OMNI, do you feel that for the fans it was a step too far?
We will always be proud of OMNI. As artists you always want to learn something with each new project and push yourselves in new ways. OMNI was really important in that regard. We gained a lot of new fans and probably lost a few in the process but we don't expect everyone to keep up.
What can fans actually expect from Infinity Overhead in terms of sound?
It's a great sounding album. Matt Bayles did a great job capturing what and who we are. It helps that he was/is "one of us".
You’ve released Lonely Gun to the public. It sounds like it’s treading the border of the groove orientated feel of Menos el Oso whilst maintaining the progressive elements of Planet of Ice. Is Lonely Gun a precursor to how the rest of the album will sound, and why did you choose to release Lonely Gun before any of the other album tracks?
I think you just helped define a genre that actually fits Minus The Bear - "PROGROOVE"!
It's what we've always done, really. To me Lonely Gun fits perfectly in our catalogue. None of the other songs sound like it but it fits in just perfectly in the track listing. You'll see...
Infinity Overhead is your fifth album as a band. Did you approach the song writing and recording for the album any differently than you have on previous albums?
Basically it was the same as in the past. Dave and Erin will bang out a skeleton then the rest of us flesh it out.
Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and by working together the five of us manage to put together something we are proud of. It’s worked pretty well for us so far.
It is being released on one of my favourite record labels, Big Scary Monsters. Why the record label change, and what do you think that Big Scary Monsters will offer you that labels in the past perhaps haven’t?
Big Scary Monsters seemed like a perfect fit. We look forward to working with them and it seems like folks have been very receptive to our pairing, which is a good sign so far!
Eleven years after forming did you expect to still be making music now, how does it feel to still be making records and playing live?
I'm not sure if any of us looked this far in the future, but it feels pretty satisfying to still be here doing what we love. We've watched a lot of "hype" bands fizzle out within a year or two while we keep our heads down and grind it out. Each tour we go out on is better than the last and it's a testament to the hard work and dedication the five of us have invested in Minus The Bear. Who knows what the next eleven years have in store, but I can guarantee we will be doing it on our own terms.
What are your plans around touring the new album, will you be playing in the UK at all in the near future?
TOUR! TOUR! TOUR!
We have these few shows in the UK in August and then hope to come back sometime in 2013.
Thank you for your time, good luck with the release!
We'll see you at the show and probably run into you in the nearest pub!
Minus The Bear’s ‘Infinity Overhead’ is available for pre-order through Big Scary Monsters now.
You can catch the band live in the UK at Heaven in London on the 17th of August - http://www.gigsandtours.com/Event/MINUS-THE-BEAR/Heaven/645032