Minus the Bear's fans quickly warm to 'Omni'
Minus the Bear singer/guitarist/lyricist Jake Snider holds no animosity toward the individual who leaked his group's latest album, "Omni," on the Internet.
"Whoever leaked it timed it perfectly," Snider said before a performance in Boston near the start of a month-long cross-country trek. "If it had surfaced three months ahead of time, we'd be 'Oh, Christ, what do we do?' But it was about two weeks before the release, so it's still fresh and people still want to own it."
"People are showing up to gigs already knowing the new songs," he says, noting that six or seven new tunes are in each set list.
Fans are already familiar with the new album's "My Time" and "Into the Mirror," which the group performed during its last go-round. "The new songs have been amazingly well received."
"Omni," the Seattle quintet's fourth full-length, was released May 4, their first recording for the fast-rising L.A. label Dangerbird. The album was produced by Joe Chiccarelli (The White Stripes, My Morning Jacket) who, Snider says, captured more of the band's live vibe by having them perform songs straight through and using single takes. It was a dramatic change for Snider as a vocalist, one that gave the album the feel of a live Minus the Bear show.
"He got a smooth overall sound by having me back off the pressure and sing each song all the way through in a single pass. On previous records, I'd do a verse or a chorus over and over and then piece them together. Whether it was a bass line or a guitar part, 80 percent of the music comes from single takes."
That approach has a payoff in the grooves found on "Omni." Whereas the band saw funk-based passages as a springboard for exploration on earlier recordings--they did two EPs prior to their debut album--now they find a way to settle in and make the most of a song. Funk and a bit of reggae are much more pronounced elements in Minus the Bear's prog-pop, as is Snider's proclivity to push his voice into the Peter Gabriel realm. Snider says it owes to the way in which guitarist Dave Knudson, bassist Cory Murchy, drummer Erin Tate and keyboardist Alex Rose assimilate influences.
"We're all from different backgrounds, but none of us are interested in playing just a particular style," he says. "In previous bands, and this is true for all of us, we were trying to rehash a specific genre in a new way. Minus the Bear is stylized but there has never been any interest in a single genre.
"There are a lot of bands that have a similar feel, but I think our approach makes Minus the Bear harder to pigeonhole. It makes us more contentious and opinions of the band are more diverse. I don't think we need to be palatable to everyone."