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Minus The Bear Explores Planet of Ice On Its 10 Year Anniversary

Photo by Shervin Lainez

For me, it was Menos El Oso.

I have vivid, fond memories of driving around Savannah, Georgia’s outrageously humid streets getting way too down with that dance-y, challenging, quirky indie rock album blasting out of the mediocre sound system of my shitty, beloved Ford Taurus (RIP, Thricemobile).

Actually, that year I was introduced to two other albums, Circa Survive’s Juturna and Gatsbys American Dream’s Self-titled, final entry. All 3 of these albums single handedly altered both what I listened to, as well as how I listened to music. They changed my perception of what music could be, what it should be, and how lovingly, challengingly, I could enjoy them.

When word started circulating that Minus The Bear was recording their follow-up to Menos El Oso, I honestly didn’t what to do. They had quickly and easily catapulted to the top of my all-time favorite bands list (thanks to their fantastic EP They Make Beer Commercials Like This and their lovably shaggy Highly Refined Pirates), and after catching them live in Jacksonville, there was a sense of anticipation I hadn’t felt for a band’s new material in quite some time (also of note, that was the same show I was introduced to P.O.S. and his incredibly unique brand of indie Hip-Hop). When the album finally released, it was… everything I had hoped it would be. Bigger, bolder, spacier, and dare I say icier, it was another approachably challenging offering from a band that has made their name on crafting approachably challenging albums.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of its release (wow I am old), Minus The Bear is embarking on a tour where they’re performing the entirety of the album, front to back. This, I tell you, excites me (and I’m sure countless other Minus The Bear fans) to no end.

I was able to ask Jake Snider, vocalist and guitarist, a few questions leading into their show this coming Wednesday, May 2nd, at Bogart’s. We touch on a what it’s like to revisit an album like this 10 years after the fact, what it was like bringing such an ambitious to life, and a few other things worth checking out. Check out our quick interview below.

Planet of Ice was a marked evolution of the band’s sound, as well as the introduction of a new band member. How was the band feeling going into its release? Was there any apprehension? Relief? Can you talk a little bit about it’s creation, especially looking at it through the lens of the 10th anniversary? What sticks out, what do you remember most vividly?
We were on this prog-rock kick and wanted to do something bigger and more expansive than our last record. We wanted it to be brash rock with guitar solos and big riffs. Going into the release, we loved the record, but it was a departure from Oso, so there was some thought of how fans would take it, though it was minimal. We’ve always done what we wanted and let the audience form their own opinions.

It’s always a massive relief to get a record out! It’s the exhale after the months of waiting. We never know how it’s going to go. We wanted people to hear it.

In touring Planet of Ice, how does it feel to live in that album again, either in rehearsal and/or on stage? Considering the band’s evolution, is it challenging to stay in that mindset, or is there a sense of nostalgia?
During rehearsal it was a very cerebral experience—revisiting some of these songs took a lot of concentration. These first few shows we’ve played on the tour became a more natural and felt experience, less thought and more play. Some of the songs we haven’t played much since 2008. There’s a tinge of nostalgia, yeah, remembering where we were in our lives back then and what influenced us.

Through all of the band’s evolution, what do you think is the most consistent aspect of the Minus the Bear? What has changed the most?
I think the core sound is always there—you can tell it’s us when you hear any of our songs. Biggest change? Age! Getting older, having families. Seeing the world through a different lens.

Looking back at the band, and where it started sonically, and then looking at what’s happened musically since, is it surprising to hear so much of the foundation Minus the Bear laid in music that’s been released over the past few years? Is that something you’re even tuned in or paying attention to?
I haven’t personally paid much attention! Having any level of influence on other artists' work is validating, absolutely.

Having accomplished so much with the band, how do you keep challenging yourselves? What do you think has been most challenging since Planet of Ice’s release?
It’s been challenging logistically. We don’t all live in the same city anymore. Some of us have families. Musically, it’s fairly easy for us to feel like we’re not stagnant.

Something I’ve always appreciated about the band is your… approachable weirdness. By that, I mean, your sound - it’s nowhere near the outlier it used to be, it was and is wholly unique and in some ways, challenging, but it’s blanketed in honesty and approachability. Is that something you’ve been conscious of, or is it simply a byproduct of how you create music?
Making interesting pop music has always been the goal. Creating layers that listeners discover on repeated listening. We come from the punk rock world, so there’s some of that attitude we try to bring—making something for ourselves first.

You’ve been around awhile… To you, what has changed the most in the music industry? What’s stayed the same? What changes do you think are still on the horizon?
The death and now rebirth of physical media is huge. Vinyl resurgence, I think CDs will make a comeback in the next couple years. People will start to sit down and enjoy music again, high quality audio to take moments of reprieve as opposed to background music via MP3s.

Bands don’t get the royalties they used to, so touring is the main source of income. Maybe streaming services will begin to pay artists a reasonable royalty, but I doubt it. Bands still get paid last. We get the remnants.

With the 10th anniversary of Planet of Ice the band’s focus right now, and thinking about all of the albums you’ve released since it came out, what’s next for Minus the Bear?
It’s a secret!

Here’s a fun one: If Minus The Bear was an ice cream flavor, what would it be?
Salted caramel.

Is there anything else you would like to mention?
Vote Democratic. It’s the only viable way to oppose the GOP. They’ve taken the country back decades in just over a year. Voting Dem is essential for civil rights, reproductive rights, the economy, restraining the administration...no fucking around this time. Vote Dem 2018 and 2020 down the ticket.

Fans both new and old, this is not a show to be missed - I can assure you that these songs are incredibly fun to watch unfold and listen to live. Catch Minus The Bear’s Planet of Ice 10th Anniversary Tour at Bogart’s this Wednesday, May 2nd with openers The Coathangers.

Sincere thanks to Jake for taking the time to answer my questions.