Plus we talked to bassist Cory Murchy about greatest hits collections, VIP meet and greets, and why the hell he's been chugging non-alcoholic beer.
After plugging away for almost 15 years, Minus The Bear are about to embark on a smaller club tour in celebration of their 2004 breakthrough EP, They Make Beer Commercials Like This. To coincide with the 10-year anniversary of Beer Commercials, the band is releasing Lost Loves, a 10-song LP collection of rarities and b-sides that did not make their way onto the their previous release.
Beware! Lost Loves is not a typical collection of b-sides and rarities. Remember in high school when you were a misfit and just didn't fit in with the rest of the kids in your school, how you bonded with the other misfits and found your home? With these collection of songs have spent the last few years in detention together for smoking cigarettes at lunch and have bonded to make an album that feels whole from start to finish.
We talked to bassist, Cory Murchy from his Seattle home and interrupted his Saturday morning of cleaning house and watching soccer to talk about Lost Loves, his favorite collection records and his thoughts on VIP meet and greets. Listen to a song "Cat Calls & Ill Means" from Lost Loves below. Pre-order it from Dangerbird Records (out October 7) here.
Noisey: You guys are gearing up the to release the Lost Loves collection. Most bands release these collections towards the end of their respective careers, whereas you guys are still plugging away. What's behind the timing of this release?
Cory Murchy: It's a bunch of songs that we had recorded for previous records, but we just did not have the space. We've always been pretty careful about our album track listings and how the album flows from the first song to the last and breaking it up for vinyl. At the end of the day, you don't have enough space on a 12-inch piece of vinyl for everything you have recorded. It was all stuff that we liked, but it just didn't fit on the record for whatever reason. It's funny, I did see some comment that said, “Oh they haven't even been a band long enough to have enough songs to do a retrospective or whatever.” We haven't been around as long as the Rolling Stones, but we've also been around for fourteen years and recording and touring that whole time. There is a little bit of history there. [Laughs] There are a lot of bands putting out Best Of Hits five years into it, but we haven't done that. It was a good way to put something out. These are songs that we've wanted to get out for a long time. Some of these songs we have played live. People were familiar with a couple of them, and didn't have a chance to own them. And some of these songs have been released on various, weird, random 7-inches here and there. Or as a bonus track for Japan. It was just nice to put it all together and put it out as one piece.
I like that these songs together feels very much like its own real-deal record.
It's weird. It does feel like a full, complete album for us. Just as far as the flow of the songs and everything, which is kind of nice. Maybe it is because they were all cut from their respective albums, they have found a home together. Whatever the reason, the outcome, we are pretty stoked on. It doesn't feel like these songs are from ten years ago, and these songs are definitely new songs. It all kind of feels like it fits and works well together.
Growing up in the punk rock scene, some of my favorite records were compilation and collection records. Were there any records you looked towards as kind of a guide for what you were doing with Lost Loves?
I don't think there was any conscience among the group. Most of us came out of the hardcore, punk rock scene as well and there were always bands putting out weird, obscure, seven-inches or having songs on compilations, that when they would put those songs together on one, it was always awesome. It's funny, the one record that I think of, is the Cardigans’ b-sides record [The Other Side of the Moon]! I absolutely fucking love the Cardigans, and this was probably 20 years ago when this came out, It was all these awesome b-cuts from the Cardigans and Black Sabbath covers and Thin Lizzy covers and it was awesome to have it all together. For me, personally, that was what I thought of.
What is it like to revisit these past tracks?
I'm definitely a nostalgic mother fucker. I look back and think, “Oh this is what was going on when we were recording this.” I think we've all had those conversations and been able to have a laugh at a lot of this stuff. I think it all brings us together in a similar head-space to think about the past and to realize and to think about that we have been a band and that we have been recording for so long. It's kind of cool to have this other group of songs that we haven't listened to or played live a million times. In a weird way it kind of breathes a little fresh air into the whole camp. It's funny to look back and think, “Ugh! I did that on that song? I wish I had that over to do.” Or on the flip, “Oh that was awesome! That was kind of rad!”
This is also the ten-year anniversary of They Make Beer Commercials Like This EP, which you will be celebrating on the upcoming tour. Was it planned to have the Lost Loves LP come out at in conjunction with the anniversary?
I think it just kind of worked out that way. The Beer Commercials anniversary thing, we just planned on doing two shows with the Seattle and the Portland show, which we did earlier this summer. We were planning on leaving it at that. Then there was a lot of general interest from our fans from all over the place wanting to hear those songs. It kind of worked out timing-wise. In a way, we've released a record, or something, pretty much every two years or so. It would be hard to not have something lined up. It wasn't a conscience effort. It was just kind of the way it worked out. It's great. It was one of our first EPs and a favorite collection of music that we have done, as well.
With the exception of your original keyboard player, Minus The Bear have managed to keep the same core line up throughout your career. What has been the secret to holding yourselves together through these years?
You know, this is something I've through a lot about recently. I think ultimately at the end of the day, it's the band that keeps us together. We've definitely gone through periods of time where we do not see eye to eye, and we are at each other’s throats and it is miserable. We all really love this band and love playing in it. I think it has kind of kept us afloat and been the catalyst to keep us going, while providing a reason to push through some of the bullshit that you are inevitably going to walk into. It's a group of five dudes living together and creating music together, and it's also a business. We run a business together, and try to intersect our personal lives and families and all that stuff can prove to be difficult at times. We all have a common desire and drive and focus to see this band go as far as we possibly can. At the end of the day, we are living our dream job, right? We get to travel around the country and play music for people who are generally stoked about it and we've been doing it for this long and it's awesome. We'd be idiots for not trying to figure it out and to make it work at the end of the day. I think we enjoy creating together, still. It's hard and miserable at times, and we want to rip each other’s eyeballs out, but the end product is something that gives us really great joy and pride in what we do.
I know bands have to look for new revenue streams to stay afloat, but coming from a punk rock background, how do you feel about the VIP meet and greets you are doing before the shows?
Definitely coming from the punk rock scene, it's kind of a no-no. The bands and the fans are on equal footing. There was a reason why you didn't play on stages, coming from that world. It's definitely something that I've thought about the pros and cons to it. At the end of the day, people are genuinely stoked on it. You don't make anyone do it. You just have to be real and you don't put on a front when you meet people. We're us. We're five goofy dudes that are just like them. It's always nice to meet fans and be real with them. It's funny, when I was about 14 or 15, I went to a meet and greet with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I always think about them when we do meet and greets. They were so nice and so accommodating and appreciative that we were there. It really stuck out in my mind, in that these dudes were making awesome music and they are totally humble and totally awesome and down to earth. That was a really cool thing to actually be able to meet them and be realize they actually eight or nine goofy dudes! [Laughs] Ultimately, we are all doing the same thing and we're fans of music. It can be a really nice bridge between all that. I think these days too, with Twitter and Instagram or even Facebook or what have you, the connection with fans is so much more than what it was. Even in the punk rock days, No one really went and hung out with Henry Rollins, or had an opportunity to; and I'm sure this will come back to haunt me and Henry will tell me, “I actually write letters to all my fans,” but you know what I mean. With Twitter and Instagram, there is a connection with people in general. I think it's weird that we are doing paid meet and greets, but we also want to make sure we are giving those people something more than just meeting us. We're giving them a whole lot more than that. It's a whole bunch of cool stuff, plus we'd like to meet ya.
I noticed scrolling through your Instagram and Twitter feeds, that you enjoy non-alcoholic beers from time to time. How did you decided to make that switch to non-alcoholic beers?
Well, that's kind of a constant back and forth in my life. I kind of go on long periods of drying up and not drinking and clearing out my head. Then I'll get back into it. It's a long—I guess you could call it a struggle. I'm kind of either an on or off kind of guy, in a lot of ways. I don't think it's very uncommon to have those feelings, especially in this kind of work, or bartending or really any type of work at this point. A lot of people think that “Oh you're a musician. It must be pretty hard. It surrounds you all the time.” That's true. When you are playing in a town, and it doesn't matter what night it is. It's everyone's Friday night. As a band you are having everybody's Friday night, every night. That shit starts to catch up on you pretty quick. Especially when you have been doing it for 20 years. The non-alcoholic stuff is great for when I need to clear my head, and that definitely happens periodically, and it probably will again.
Do you stay sober while on the road as well?
It depends on where I'm at in my head-space. It's definitely hard because everyone else is chugalugging. It's easy to just go with it. For me, when I decide to not drink, I just don't drink. I'm kind of an on or off guy. When I switch it off, it's off. I find other stuff to fill my idle hands with. Probably more healthier and less self-destructive ways.
What do you fill your time with?
I've been doing a lot of painting and drawing and more visual art; creating with my hands. I like to make shit.
Catch Minus The Bear on tour:
* = w/ O'Brother
# = w/ Young Widows
& = w/ Mansions
20 - Los Angeles, CA - Sunset Strip Music Festival
14 - Pittsburgh, PA - Club Cafe*
15 - Brooklyn, NY - St. Vitus *
16 - Cambridge, MA - The Sinclair*
17 - New York, NY - Gramercy Theatre*
18 - Philadelphia, PA - Underground Arts*
19 - Washington, DC - Rock & Roll Hotel *
21 - Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop #
22 - Detroit, MI - Magic Stick #
23 - Chicago, IL - Bottom Lounge #
24 - Minneapolis, MN - Triple Rock #
25 - Des Moines, IA - Wolly's #
27 - Denver, CO - Marquis Theatre
01 - Seattle, WA - The Crocodile &
20 - San Francisco, CA - Slim's &
21 - San Diego, CA - Casbah &
22 - Pomona, CA - Glasshouse &
23 - San Luis Obispo, CA - SLO Brewing Co. &
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