Interview: Minus the Bear

Gesina sat down with Minus the Bear’s vocalist Jake Snider before their sold-out show at Club Café with O’Brother back in October. Read the interview below for more about the band’s new record of B-sides and outtakes, Lost Loves, as well as some reissues, the current tour, and vinyl nerdiness.

Gesina: I know you’ve played Pittsburgh before, is there a particular reason you started the tour here?

Jake: I think the main reason we wanted to start the tour here is it’s always a good town to play. We needed to start on the East Coast and it just kind of made sense routing-wise. It was all very, very rationally done, you know? But yeah, it’s an essential stop for us, we’ve always loved playing Mr. Smalls or the various other stranger clubs we’ve played around Pittsburgh, like tonight.

G: So you’ve never played Club Café before?

J: Never been to Club Café before.

G: Are you playing smaller, more intimate venues on this tour?

J: Yeah, very much so. That’s kind of the whole vibe of the tour. It’s a shorter tour than we usually do, smaller venues, kind of geared more toward the fans who have been with us a long time. We’re playing our second EP, They Make Beer Commercials Like This, in its entirety. And so like that gets to the hardcore dudes, and ladies. But it’s mainly because we don’t have a full new release out right now, we just have the reissue of the Beer Commercials EP as well as our new record, Lost Loves, but that’s even B-side stuff.

G: I heard you’ve played some of the Lost Loves stuff live before?

J: Yeah.

G: The majority of it?

J: No. We’ve played, maybe, three of the songs off of it in the past.

G: Is there going to be some older stuff in the set?

J: Yeah, I mean, fairly career-spanning, I’d say. The best part about putting this set together for this tour was that we knew we had seven songs that we had to play from the Beer Commercials EP. The point is to play that in its entirety, so seven songs eats up a huge chunk of the choices that we have for the rest of the set, so there’s maybe eleven songs left, and we’re doing a couple from the Lost Loves record and then it’s just a mix after that.

G: Something for everybody.

J: Hope so.

G: You were looking at like seven years of material for Lost Loves is that right?

J: Yes, about six or seven years.

G: I’d imagine logistically that was a lot, but did you think it was a reflective process to go over so much time at once?

J: Yeah, it was a fun record to put together. With a record like that, where you’re putting out songs that didn’t quite make it to the past three records, you can go chronology, like “the first three songs are from the oldest” or whatever, but we just decided to sequence it as if it were a new record and I really think that helped and worked out. It was cool to hear the final product. It sounds like a record, so we’re stoked.

G: Was there a lot of material that didn’t make the cut?

J: You know what, there’s maybe three songs that are unreleased that we even have that have come to the point of even being called a song.

G: You’re reissuing Beer Commercials and Planet of Ice—are you vinyl guys?

J: I am an absolute vinyl guy. I rarely listen to anything when I’m home other than vinyl. I’m a nerd when it comes to vinyl. I’ve got six or seven record players, I spend way too much money on that stuff, so, yeah, big nerd.

G: Last question before I let you go: you guys have had a really cohesive lineup for a really long time, with only one change—are you guys excited to hit the road all together again? I know you tour a lot.

J: Yeah, we definitely are. Our new keyboard player has been in the band for eight years [laughs], so he’s been around for a long time. On this tour, Erin, our drummer, is sitting it out, he’s having some medical issues, so our drum tech Kiefer has stepped up and is hitting the drums for this tour.