Minus The Bear – SHOW MOVED TO THE HAWTHORNE THEATER. ALL WONDER TIX HONORED – Tickets – Wonder Ballroom – Portland, OR – April 14th, 2017




Beach Slang, Bayonne

Friday April 14

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

This event is all ages


Tickets on sale here

Minus The Bear
Minus The Bear
Minus the Bear have always avoided easy classification, preferring to tread their own inimitable path defined by energy and invention. OMNI, the Seattle-based band's fourth full-length recording and debut Dangerbird Records release, sees a stunning evolution to their sound and vision. As evinced by the album's all-encompassing title, Minus the Bear have merged their myriad influences into a sweeping collection marked by its slinky and sensual melding of city-stomping rock and deep funk grooves. That spirit of sonic lasciviousness is mirrored in the album's raw take on human sexuality – a theme as intricate and elaborate as the band's extraordinary music. Boldly experimental yet instantly accessible, OMNI is Minus the Bear's most provocative and potent work to date.

"I think it's a real leap forward," singer/guitarist Jake Snider agrees. "It's an impactful sounding record."
Founded in 2001, Minus the Bear earned immediate attention with their distinctive spastic prog-pop hybrid, all serrated rhythms, swirling synths, and guitarist Dave Knudson's multi-layered, pedal-hopping acrobatics. Prolific from the start, the band let loose with series of EPs and albums, each drawing escalating acclaim and a host of new fans. 2007's Planet of Ice was followed by the band's most intensive touring thus far, repeatedly traveling the US, as well as Europe, Australia, and Japan. The non-stop roadwork served to increase the band's kinetic power and intensity – a mindset they were determined to bring with them when they returned to the studio.

"One of the things we wanted to do was capture more of the live energy," says Knudson. "We feel like the live show is really where you get to see what we're doing."

Work officially began on the new album in mid-2008 as the band reconvened to begin shaping and developing Knudson's early demo tracks. This time out MTB wanted to collaborate with an outside producer and began interviewing potential candidates. Joe Chiccarelli (My Morning Jacket, The White Stripes, The Shins) flew up to Seattle for his meeting mere hours after accepting a Grammy Award for his work with The Raconteurs and the rapport was immediate, with producer and band in agreement about how to proceed.

"We played the songs for Joe in our rehearsal space and he had a ton of ideas," Snider says. "He had a great sense of where things could be trimmed, so he was a good set of ears to help us edit what we were trying to get across."

On April 27, 2009, Minus the Bear began sessions at Seattle's Avast! Recording Studios, opting to take a more organic approach towards recording. A conscious effort was made to play together as much as possible, eschewing the usual scratch tracks and overdubs whenever possible.

"He was really awesome about wanting to find the perfect sound before we even started tracking the songs," Knudson says. "That was a big thing for us, changing the way we record, trying to keep as much of the performances that we were doing in the studio together to maintain the energy."

"Joe kicked a lot of us in the ass more than any of us had ever been kicked in the ass before," Knudson says. "We were doing 10 or 12 takes, more than any of us had ever played, but obviously all those takes paid off. He broke us down and made us evaluate what we were doing and maybe made us think of it from a different perspective."

Where Planet of Ice was deeply informed by the band's unified passion for classic prog-rock, OMNI sees each member bringing a diverse tableau of individual influences to the table, with keyboardist Alex Rose, bassist Cory Murchy, and drummer Erin Tate expressing a significant interest in jazz, hip-hop, R&B, and 70s funkadelia.

"Those underlying elements seeped through," Knudson says, "whether or not we were cognicent of the fact that was happening. There's a lot more groove, a lot more soul, a lot more feeling that comes across."

The new music's pulsating energy inspired a kind of sensual sprawl and carnal abandon. "Secret Country" features MTB's most propulsive riff to date, inspired by Knudson's purchase of a baritone guitar while on tour, while "My Time" – the album's first single – is a rush of pure electro-pop lust, built around the glorious sound of another of the guitarist's new toys, a vintage Omnichord synthesizer.

"The music just lent itself to dealing with these erotic themes," Snider says. "There wasn't a conscious idea to keep it all that way, but I didn't really fight anything that came up when I was trying to put something to the music."

None of which is to say that the quirky time signatures, hyperactive riffs, and prodigious hooks have left the building. The eddying tri-climax solo of "The Thief" and the album-closing "Fooled By The Night," with its flowing arc and song-with a-song structure, reveal that MTB's trademarks have simply been morphed and molded to fit a more straightforward – though no less ingenious – songcraft.

"We always wanted to see just how weird we can make a pop song," Snider says, "but I think at some point we abandoned that and just started wanting to write really good songs."

With OMNI finished by summer's end, the band's next step was choosing the right label to put it out. Fortunately, the band ultimately united with the Silverlake-based independent label, Dangerbird Records.

"We really care about this and whoever was putting out the record had to be a cool, awesome, artist-friendly, happening place to be," Knudson says. "Once we met up with [Dangerbird co-founder] Jeff Castelaz and those guys, it was just kinda like, 'Why would we pick someone else? This is exactly what we've been looking for.'"

The brazen and irresistible OMNI will undoubtedly bring Minus the Bear to scores of new listeners, keeping them on tour for the foreseeable future. The band are now ready to return to the road, knowing that their ever-increasing fan following awaits. Having built its base in no small part due to their exhilarating live shows, MTB have an advanced appreciation for the intimate connection between band and their audience.

"We've got a lot of fans that really care about us," Knudson says, "that just love the music and keep coming out to show after show after show. I think about it every day, I think about how fuckin' lucky we are."

"The main thing we try to accomplish is putting together something that we're going to enjoy playing forever," Snider says. "We always make sure that we want to hear the song as much as anybody else."
Beach Slang
We've been waiting for a while and finally it's here. Over the past two years Beach Slang have proved themselves as a band who can write memorable songs, share that energy live and create a community of like-minded fans but they've always been missing one important element: An album. Luckily the band's full-length The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us is the culmination of their collective career and picks up where their two critically acclaimed 7-inches, 2014's Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street and Who Would Ever Want Something So Broken? left off. The feelings of youth and vulnerability lie at the core of Beach Slang's music, which is part punk, part pop and all catharsis. It references the ghosts of the Replacements but keeps one foot firmly rooted in the present. It's fun and it's serious. It's sad but it isn't. It's Beach Slang. This Philadelphia-based act have built their hype the old-fashioned way, without any gimmicks or marketing teams, which makes sense when you consider that frontman and writer James Alex cut his teeth in the celebrated pop-punk act Weston while drummer JP Flexner, bassist Ed McNulty and guitarist Ruben Gallego also played in buzzed about projects such as Ex-Friends, Nona and Glocca Morra respectively. However there's something indefinable about Beach Slang's music that evokes the spirit of punk and juxtaposes it into something that's as brutally honest as it is infectiously catchy. "By and large we subscribe to the idea of "if it isn't broken, we're not going to fix it' so, yeah, we came at this recording in very much the same way," Alex explains when asked how they approached the new songs from a sonic perspective. "I mean, we had more time to make this album, which is a cool thing, but time can also be a strange overthinker. Really, we've just always wanted to make our things sound like well recorded live records." he continues, adding that the biggest difference this time around is the fact that engineer Dave Downham stepped up to co-produce this album and the fact that the band has finally found a full-time fourth member in guitarist Ruben Gallego. "Having both of them and their ears involved definitely helped a lot. I hardly listen back to things in the studio. For me, if it feels right, it's a keeper. But, yeah, there's something pretty alright about striking a balance." Obviously there has been demand for a Beach Slang album since they exploded onto the scene, however the band was very careful not to rush out something before it was totally ready. "I write every day regardless of what else is happening. And what we wanted to make happen was as many live shows as possible. There's an importance in that, a necessity. Rock & roll isn't meant to exist on computer screens, you know?" Correspondingly the hundreds of shows that the band played between this album and the EP is all now automatically embedded in their recorded output. "I'm hardly concerned about our music being technically precise. I want to make sure it has soul, that it's honest. The imperfections…that's the really good stuff. We don't ever want it to be perfect." While The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us further expands on Beach Slang's unique sound, it also showcases their sonic diversity. From the shoegazing sheen of "Noisy Heaven" to the downbeat dreaminess of "Porno Love" and refracted rage of "Young & Alive," the album is a fuzzed-out masterpiece that takes influence from the past while staying rooted in the present. "Certainly we are going to sound like Beach Slang because, you know, we are but we didn't want to make this record a xerox of anything we've done. That stuff has no guts, you know?," Alex explains. "Even if you go from the first EP to the second EP there's a nice, little arc and range of things happening. I think that's even more true of this record." "There's a line in that first song 'Throwaways' that goes 'there's a time to bleed and a time just to fucking run": I've sung that line so many times between developing and writing the thing and I still get that little-hair-standing-up-on-my-arm moment every time I say it," Alex says. It's probably because the sentiments that he's expressing have never been a choice. "Certainly there's an element of nostalgia inherent in the writing because a good bit is reflective but it never lodges in the past; it's more of a battle cry to now and where we're going. Look, growing up and getting serious is wildly overrated stuff. Don't listen to it. Jump around with a guitar. Play records loud. Never retire from being alive. Move on it."That movement is alternately beautiful and crushing. It's blazing and plodding, silent and deafening but always progressing and pushing toward that barely visible beacon in the horizon. The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us is just a giant step closer to our destination.
Roger Sellers is a lot of things. He's a minimalist composer with a knack for making hypnotic, enveloping songs from a few repeated musical phrases. He's a gifted musician who is mostly self-taught, having abandoned formal study because it was draining the life from his work. He's a self-described disciple of Phil Collins. What he is not, however -- despite multiple press reports to the contrary -- is a DJ.

"I started developing a decent following in Austin," he says, "but most of the time when I would play, the press would say something like 'Local DJ Roger Sellers,' or 'Roger Sellers is playing a late-night DJ set.' I think it was maybe because my live set involves a table full of gear, a drum set and headphones, but the average person probably knows more about DJing than I do.'" To combat the misunderstanding, Sellers printed up stickers reading, "Roger Sellers is Not a DJ," and eventually adopted the alias Bayonne, changing his name without altering his approach.

And it's a good thing: Primitives, Sellers' debut as Bayonne, is a rich, complex work, the kind with no clear rock parallel. In its winding, maze-like structures are hints of both Steve Reich and Owen Pallett, each instrument working a single melodic pattern over and over and over, as Sellers threads his soft, reedy voice between them. On songs like "Appeals," the effect is hypnotic: notes from a piano crash down like spilled marbles from a bucket, as Sellers' ringing-bell vocals swing back and forth between them. The end result is spellbinding music, meticulously-crafted songs where each tiny piece locks into another, and hundreds of them joined together create a breathtaking whole -- like dots in a Seurat, or tiny bones in a dinosaur skeleton.

Sellers' journey to Bayonne began when he was two years old, situated in front of Eric Clapton Unplugged at his home in TK. "I'd just watch it over and over again," he laughs. "I would get paint cans and bang on them, trying to imitate what I saw in the video. My parents got me a drum set when I was 6 years old and I became obsessed. I wanted to be Phil Collins for so many years as a child. He was my hero. I feel like you can hear that a lot in Primitives, that big drum sound, because so much of the way I play was learned from Phil Collins." Though Sellers studied classical piano as a child and music theory in college, rather than developing his skill, he found both to be deadening. "It became homework," he says. "It made me come home and not want to write. That's not at all how I'd thought about music -- it had always been something fun -- almost like a kind of therapy. It was an escape, not a chore."

Instead, Sellers struck out on his own, buying a looper and slowly amassing a stockpile of tiny melodies. "I found out that I could make these songs really spontaneously and have this really good idea without having to get into the studio to capture it right away. Most of these songs came out of me just fucking around, hooking up keyboards and experimenting." The experiments cohered into music that is beautiful and densely layered. The composition of the individual musical phrases may have been spontaneous, but assembling them to create Primitives was anything but. Instead, Sellers constructed the songs from a collection of loops he'd built up over the course of six years. Some of those patterns were created on stage at his shows, where Sellers threads melodies together in real time, augmenting them with live drums and vocals. Others were written during downtime, improvising at home. Once he had the basic melodies, he had to figure out how they went together, and how to layer them meticulously to make songs that were rich in deep detail but still immediately engaging.

You can hear all of that in "Spectrolite"; taut apostrophes of guitar enter first, pinpricks of barely-there sound that blink like Christmas lights. Bone-dry snare enters next, but the guitars keep echoing their same hypnotic phrase; it's followed by grumbling bass and, finally, Sellers' airy, high-arcing voice; each piece follows their charted course again and again, but as the song goes on, it gets more engrossing -- it gives the effect of slipping slowly into warm water. "That one came from an older loop that I had," Sellers explains. "It was about a stone that my girlfriend at the time had brought me back from Australia, a spectrolite stone. We had some things happen between us during that time, so that stone meant a lot to me. I had it with me the entire time I made the record. It's a song about forgiveness, and keeping those people who matter most to you close around you, and caring for those that you love." In "Waves," surging piano replicates the sound of the ocean, lapping slowly forward and back. Giant tribal drums enter, filling the blank space, giving the song a soft, calming, see-sawing rhythm. "That's a song I basically wrote by performing it live," Sellers says. "That's one of my favorite songs that I've written because of the simplicity of it," he explains. "You feel like you're in the ocean or something." But as the song goes on, it skews darker. "I know that there's something else, something else, something else," Sellers sings, "And I know that you'd be there for me." As the song goes on, the object of his affection drifts away, like a boat toward the skyline. Like all of Sellers's songs, it centers carefully constructed music around the soft, glowing core of the human heart.

"That's all of it -- emotion," Sellers says. "I want the music to carry people in some way, and I want them to feel what I'm feeling. I want my music to be an emotive expression." On Primitives, Sellers creates music that's nuanced, layered, complicated and soothing -- easy to get lost in, impossible to ignore.

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