I’ve been a fan of the band Minus the Bear for years. Actually, for more than half of my life. I still remember listening to Highly Refined Pirates and Menos el Oso back as a teenager in high school when I was 15.
It’s a trip to fast forward to 2019 and here they are with six full-length albums and midway through their 10th anniversary tour for Planet of Ice.
Someone's turning the lights down low And the music up Do you feel the beat?
Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with bassist Cory Murchy to talk about celebrating an artistic milestone and what it's been like playing the album in its entirety. We also discuss creativity, putting on some of the best live performances of the band's career, and ... well, being lucky.
With this tour, their fans will get to reminisce on where they were at in their lives when that album was released, and most likely be reminded "of everything that made us fall in love with Minus the Bear in the first place."
Tell me about the first leg of this anniversary tour for Planet of Ice. I know you guys just wrapped up your East Coast-Midwest leg of it at The Ready Room in St. Louis – what’s it been like?
It’s been wild to say the least and awesome to dust off a lot of the songs from Planet of Ice and really be able to play the hell out of them. The lineup that we’ve got right now with our drummer Josh … things are just really gellin’ and it feels damn good to play the record.
Reaching the 10-year anniversary for Planet of Ice has been cool. It’s interesting to kind of reflect on where we were all at personally, musically and where we were at in life when the album came out, and now seeing where we are at and how we’ve all changed, grown, and have remained the same.
These moments are great for reflection and it’s nice to be able to do that and then and let it go. I think letting go is equally as important.
It’s funny cause we were all kind of just talking about how we’re probably playing our longest set we’ve ever played, but it feels like it goes by pretty quick. It’s like all of a sudden we’re three quarters of the way through the set and are like ‘Woah! That went fast!’
That’s a good thing I think.
Because you’re in the moment of it on stage, right?
Exactly! We’re not thinking about it, we’re just enjoying it.
Speaking of enjoying being on this tour, what’s the response been like from your fans?
It’s been great. Our fans are awesome! I think being able to experience the album in its entirety is exciting. They’ve been stoked about the chunk of music we’re playing afterward; that we’re dusting off the old ones. They’re stoked on the song selections. We’re lucky we’ve got fans that have seen us anywhere from 15 to 20 times and, so far, everyone is saying that this is the best they’ve ever seen. We’re lucky, man.
What was the band’s experience like touring with The Coathangers? They seem like a badass trio of women.
We’re label mates with Suicide Squeeze Records, and they're awesome. They brought it every single night and I actually just recently wrote something for a publication talking about the live album they just released. The Coathangers have been touring their asses off for 13 years and earning it. They’re professionals and truly own the stage, but also just want to have fun and play good rock shows. It's so cool.
Do you have a favorite track off Planet of Ice that you most enjoy playing live?
“White Mystery” is a good one, though I may be biased. “Lotus” has also been a monster to play and a lot of fun because it’s just such a wild, long song with all sorts of parts. It’s been awesome to re-create that every night.
For your West Coast-Southwest dates coming up, what are you and the band most looking forward to on this second leg touring with The New Trust?
They’re all old friends of ours and we’ve done a bunch of tours with them. And as you mentioned, they’re another badass trio. So it will be nice to spend some time on the road with them, again. To do the show for the West Coast and the Southwest is going to be a blast.
In terms of progressing and pushing yourselves to stay creative, what’s that process like?
You know, it’s always been about staying true to ourselves. We’ve all got a pretty good sense of what we like, where we’re at, and what we’re trying to accomplish, so just kind of sticking with that.
What’s life like off the road and being back at home. Where are you finding balance these days?
We’re all back home. I'm over here in White Center, Seattle, and have just been taking it easy. It’s a nice little reprieve from the road. Lately, I've been doing a lot of visual art—mostly painting—and it’s been really great to explore that side of things. It’s been a nice outlet. Music is such a collaborative effort for me and art is a sole endeavor. I don’t have anyone else that I’m working with, it’s just me, which I think is important to be able to do. It makes me understand more about who I am, which in turn allows me to communicate with everybody else in a more whole and holistic way.
I know the band’s sound is influenced by a varied degree of artists and genres … what’s currently on your playlists?
I’ve been listening to a lot of The Coathangers, especially their Nosebleed Weekend album and newest LIVE record. There’s also a band out of Montreal called Suuns (pronounced soons) that I’ve been listening to. They’re amazing.
Hmm … I wouldn’t mind working with Kacey Musgraves. Just throwing that out there! I’m a big fan over here. I’m waiting for her to give me a call.
Most wildest, memorable moment being a touring musician?
That’s such a tough one. You know, it’s been 17 years of one wild and crazy experience after the other. It’s all a bit surreal and weird.
In retrospect, do you feel like it’s been 17 years that you guys have been jamming together?
No, not at all. It definitely seems like we’ve arrived 17 years later very quickly. But I’m thankful to be here on this end and where we’re at.
Check out Minus the Bear's full list of past and remaining tour dates below.
Featured Image Credit: Shervin Lainez