Releasing an album of b-sides is an oddly significant moment for a band. While some might see it as a filler point between new records, it signifies a couple serious benchmarks.
1. The longevity of sticking around for enough time to compile a robust cache of extra songs.
2. Fan support substantial enough to crave tunes that didn't make the cut on previous records.
Minus the Bear easily meets both those quotas. This month Seattle rock mainstay released Lost Loves, featuring b-sides from the band's last three recording sessions (Infinity Overhead, OMNI, and Planet of Ice). The collection includes some gems that diehards already know and love ("Electric Rainbow") and other tracks that are essentially new. Minus the Bear brings its tour celebrating the arrival of Lost Loves (and the 10th anniversary of its EP They Make Beer Commercials Like This) to the Crocodile on Saturday, November 1 with opening support from Mansions (Seattle Met's 2013 Album of the Year honoree).
For our latest Fiendish Conversation, we talked to Minus the Bear frontman Jake Snider about b-sides as a reflection of the past, the diversity of Seattle's rock venues, and stinky show shirts.
As guys were putting together Lost Loves and refamiliarizing yourselves with the songs—these little moments in time—did you reflect on how the band has shifted over the course of those years?
Yeah, going back through it is a definite education and you kind of see some of what you were doing six or seven years ago versus now. Hmm… how do I put this? The older songs for this specific record are b-sides, do we haven’t really even played them, or maybe even listened to them, as much as a hell of a lot of others. So coming back to them is just kind of refreshing in a way. Going into like the three different records that the songs come from it’s kind of an interesting way to chart things.
When going back to these b-sides, do you notice changes in your approach to singing or guitar playing that have transpired over the course of the seven years Lost Loves encapsulates?
I’m not really that aware of that kind of stuff. I’m sure that there are changes, but I don’t really strive too consciously to make them. I mean, I hear more changes between the first record and these. Maybe that’s why I like Lost Loves, just because it does actually flow fairly well.
Has the fan reaction been good on this tour considering you’ve been playing songs that aren’t as canonized in the Minus the Bear catalog?
Yeah, definitely. I mean some of these songs people had on 7-inches or some other format. On this tour we’re playing the song “Electric Rainbow,” and people heard that quite a bit, so they definitely respond to that one. But yeah, I think all the stuff kind of goes over really well with the fans, surprisingly.
Are there any up-and-coming local bands that you think people should check out?
Slow Bird’s fantastic, kind of one of my faves. Dust Moth is some of our friends from like These Arms Are Snakes and whatnot; Matt Bayles used to be in our band. Actually, Alex, our keyboard player, has been playing solo shows as NGHTBLND.
If you weren't a musician is there another line of work you think you might've wanted to pursue?
Well, as a kid I wanted to be like a comic book artist or something like that, but I don’t think I could draw that well. At this point I’d probably be a stay-at-home dad.
How has Seattle influenced your music?
I mean, there’s the access—as I was growing up—to shows. Really, really good bands (playing concerts) all the time, so it was pretty cool to see that kind of stuff. As far as the city goes, it’s just supportive. There are clubs for every size band and every draw.
That’s one cool Minus the Bear thing, you guys always play at different venues. Some of the local headliners lock into a favorite venue or two, but in the past few years you’ve played the Showbox, Neumos, Columbia City Theater, and Crocodile, and so on. Is that something you strive to do for variety?
Yeah. It’s fun to do these small record release show, like last time—for Infinity Overhead—we played at the Comet. It’s fun to do something small.
Do you have any sort of pre-show routine?
It’s just really mundane. All I do is change my shirt into my stinky show shirt… just kind of get dressed, get ready. So nothing too strange. I don’t do Pilates or chug forties of Old English of anything like that. I don’t sacrifice a chicken.
Minus the Bear
Nov 1 at 9, The Crocodile, Sold Out