Minus the Bear talks about growing up and life on the road

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comMarch 21, 2013 

  • IF YOU GO

    WHERE: Music Farm, 32 Ann St., Charleston

    WHEN: Doors open at 6:30 p.m. March 24

    COST: $23 in advance; $25 at the door

    DETAILS: www.musicfarm.com

On the road as much now as when they first formed in 2001, it is the way Seattle's Minus the Bear tours these days that has changed the most, band members say.

Gone are the up-all-night benders and the drunken escapades of a band on the road and on the rise, and in their place are nights spent watching movies with their wives -- and even children -- as the alt-rock band criss-crosses the country promoting its latest record, "Infinity Overhead," which was released in August.

The transition has been a fun but surreal one, drummer Erin Tate says.

"I was 21 or 22 years old when this band first started," Tate said. "I was single, so I was going out after every show and getting drunk and everyone else in the band was doing the same thing. Now, four out of five of us are married and three out of five of us have kids. It definitely lends a different dynamic to touring. Wives are on the buses now and sometimes our kids will come out."

Minus the Bear will perform March 24 at the Music Farm in Charleston as part of a national tour with fellow alt-rockers Circa Survive. The tour also includes stops in nearby Jacksonville and Raleigh. Tickets are $23.

In an interview, Tate discussed the tour, what technology has meant for working musicians and their latest record.

Question. Minus the Bear released its sixth full-length album in August. Did the process differ at all on this record as opposed to the previous five?

Answer. We worked with a different producer on the last album and this time we went back to working with (longtime producer and former keyboardist) Matt Bayles, and that was really about us getting back into our comfort zone. Matt knows us so well and knows what we like, so we ended up doing a lot more live tapes on this record than a bunch of overdubs, which gives the record a lot more of a live energy.

Q. You guys have been together for nearly 12 years now, how do you make it work?

A. We really try to hang out as much as possible when we're home and really keep those friendships going. We're constantly at each other's houses and watching movies or getting together with our wives. It's like any relationship or marriage, it can definitely be hard and you have fights, but I think we all know that we have a common goal.

Q. How has technology changed music and the music business since Minus the Bear first got together?

A. It's a blessing and a curse. After our first EP and our first album came out, we never would have thought an album of ours would ever leak and then it leaked like two months before it was supposed to come out. At first, we were furious but then we went out on the road and every show was sold out because they already heard the record. But as far as album sales go, technology has definitely put a dent in that. Not that Minus the Bear ever sold a million records but as a guy with a wife and kids and a family, it definitely sucks.

Q. So is touring the way most working musicians make money in 2013?

A. Absolutely, which isn't a big deal for us because we've always toured a lot, but unless you're Justin Bieber or something, you're not going to make a lot of money selling records unless you're out on the road working your (expletive) off.

Q. Does the band have a favorite song to play live?

A. The fans seem to really like some of the older stuff so when we first go into the rehearsal space before a tour, it's like, "Ugh, I've got to play this song that I've played 72,000 times" but when you play it live and people are getting into it, you kind of forget about all of that. Off the new record, we all really love playing "Diamond Lightning." Not sure what it is about that song, but playing it feels like a breath of fresh air.

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at http://www.twitter.com/IPBG_Patrick.

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