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Friday, May 17, 2024

Minus the Bear: A positive for Madison

The Daily Cardinal recently spoke with Minus the Bear guitarist Dave Knudson as they geared up for their upcoming tour.

Knudson, along with lead singer Jake Snider, bassist Cory Murchy, keyboardist Alex Rose and drummer Erin Tate are Minus the Bear, from Seattle, Wash. While the band has roots in Seattle, their sound is not directly influenced by Nirvana and Pearl Jam but rather, from a swath of different influences.

“I was really into music before that whole [grunge] explosion happened,” Knudson said. “I was way more into like metal and thrash and stuff like that.”

While Knudson’s musical influences may not have been directly impacted by grunge music, his attitude towards music certainly was a product of his surroundings.

“The grunge explosion was pretty awesome in that it kick-started a lot of people into seeing there were just regular dudes who could make music,” Knudson said. “I think it really opened our eyes to a lot of the DIY stuff, even though a lot of those records went on to be super huge and mainstream, it really started in basements.”

In late 2012, the band released their fifth full-length album, Infinity Overhead, which led the band to their greatest commercial success to date. Two songs off the album, “Diamond Lightning” and “Toska,” demonstrate a technique of continuity that the band brought from their live show to the studio.

“I don’t remember which came first, but all of us in the band, our favorite moment on the record is when those two songs kind of blend,” Knudson said. “I think we have always liked those types of things on records, when songs blur into one another and there are cool transitions, and we try and make cool transitions happen live between songs off different records, and I think this is just an opportunity to do this on an album instead of just in a live context.”

Minus the Bear has created some remarkable studio outputs. However, they are a live band at Heart. Before the band hits the road, despite being more than a dozen years into their career, they still have a regimented practice schedule.

“We have been down at the rehearsal space for the past week or so, just playing out the set list and playing whole songs,” Knudson said. “We have quite a few with a back catalog ... at the beginning of each tour, [we] go through and pick out a bunch that we haven’t played in a while, relearn them.”

Despite having such an expansive catalog, the band opts to use a very similar set list each night.

“We will have a couple alternates, where, for some reason … some city likes some particular song, or references a body of water near that place, sometimes we will spice it up,” Knudson said. “For the majority of the tour … the big chunk of the set will be the same—you know with like lighting and things like that, it is much easier to have the set remain a little more similar so that way all those cues and that kind of stuff can remain kind of static.”

During the band’s career, which has now surpassed a decade, they have had the ability to tour both around the United States and the world. While stateside, they are almost always well received; different countries provide different responses to the band’s music.

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“It kind of depends on the country. The UK is fairly receptive and we have had some really great shows there,” Knudson said. “Whereas some other places such as Germany and I think even Japan, like their music [are] more rigid, genre-specific varieties ... we don’t really fit into any of those genre specific labels and so it is a little more challenging for us in Germany or Japan.”

While the crowds in certain places have not always been as receptive to the band’s music, Knudson and his fellow band mates have made an effort to sample all kinds of local cuisine.

“There have been some really great ones and some really interesting ones,” Knudson said. “We played in Iceland maybe about seven or eight years ago … and the promoters took us to this traditional Icelandic restaurant where they served us petrified shark. That was one of the most disgusting things I have ever put in my mouth.”

While the band had a rocky introduction to Madison, not getting their show off, Knudson hopes for a better turnout more than a decade since their first trip here.

“Things have changed a little bit, so hopefully people show up this time, which I am sure they will,” Knudson said.

Minus the Bear will take the stage at the Majestic Theater March 2 at 9 p.m.

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