You couldn’t ask for a smoother ride than the 10 years alternative rock’s Minus the Bear has enjoyed. Each release has been bigger than the one before it, audiences have grown in number, and the band has weathered only one departure.
The closest thing the group has seen to any sort of adversity is writing and recording its latest studio album, “Omni,” without label support.
“It was a little nerve-racking, not knowing,” bassist Cory Murchy said. “But we all had the confidence that something was going to happen, and if not, we live in a time we can put records out on our own.”
Sure enough, the disc was snapped up quickly by Dangerbird Records (home of Silversun Pickups and Hot Hot Heat), and the Bear felt as comfortable as ever.
“We were confident we could find a home that fit, and we did,” Murchy said. “It was definitely finding a place that was artist-friendly, that cared about the art and the business time, whereas a lot of places can only seem to care (about) one of those things.”
When “Omni” debuted with the Seattle outfit’s strongest sales and chart positioning yet, its ascension continued. Instead of celebrating, Minus the Bear launched right back into touring, which they’ve done nearly constantly, and looked into another disc. The recently released “Hold Me Down” EP is available for free on the group’s website and continues its near-perfect string of annual releases.
“We want to stay relevant in people’s minds, so we try to get out something every year,” Murchy said. “It allows us to look at songs in new ways, too.”
The band has been taken with reinterpretations of its polished, altrock anthems, releasing a seven-track album of acoustic versions of old songs and a complete remix of its beloved 2005 LP, “Menos el Oso.”
“The remixes are fun, because we just ship them off to people and get these completely different visions of our songs, which makes us look at it in a different way as well. It’s neat to see our music through someone else’s eyes,” Murchy said. “There’s a little electronic element to our songs, the pedals, the samples, and we all love DJ and electronic music, so it felt like a natural progression and experiment. It’s really worked out.”
“Hold Me Down” contains one such remix — a fan-created reworking of “Omni”’s lead single — and sometimes, Minus the Bear thinks they did it better.
“The remix of ‘My Time’ is bitchin’. It’s bangin’,” Murchy said, laughing. “There are a lot of others that were just as good as the originals. Sometimes, I’d rather just listen to them.”