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Alt-Rock Band Celebrates 10th Anniversary

The Seattle rock band Minus the Bear has spent a decade traveling together -- and recording four albums in its own studio in Seattle. The band's recent album, Omni, changes the pattern. Minus the Bear released the recording just before going on a long tour across America to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Members of the Seattle-based alternative rock band Minus the Bear have been together since their early 20s. The band is now celebrating its 10th anniversary, in a tour across the United States, by playing every track of its first full-length album Highly Refined Pirates.

Singer and band leader Jake Snider says the group has never played some of these songs in a live performance. "... and because a lot of them we don't play often. We represent now 30-year-old, mid-30s guys, as opposed to mid-20s guys," Snider noted.

And bass player Cory Murchy says it has been more fun than the group expected.

"There are a lot of… you know, it is a 10-year old, 9-year-old record. Feeding off of that energy from the crowd is amazing," Murchy added.

Critics have praised the band's fourth full-length album, Omni, for its balanced blend of alternative rock and hook-heavy pop music. Snider says striking that balance is "half the fun."

As with its other albums, Minus the Bear recorded Omni in its own studio in Seattle. But for the first time, group members brought in a seasoned producer to oversee the work. Their choice, Joe Chicarelli, has had great success in the past 30 years, shaping the sounds of many other alternative and pop rock bands.

"It was good," Snider said. "It was an interesting experience. It was humbling and it was completely different and difficult. And at the beginning of the record, the recording process was really interesting and really successful, getting the band's sound on record."

In the 10 years since Minus the Bear began working together, Internet and digital distribution of songs has changed the music industry. Murchy and Snider say the band members are learning as they go.

"It's definitely helped you know, for a fan to go and be able to look up a band and be able to basically access their full catalogue before they ever have to buy a record. It is pretty big for the consumer of music. They can decide whether they want to or not," said Murchy.

Snider added, "And it is hard to say over the past 10 years, growing with the changes that the music industry has gone through, what would be different if it was the same. Would we have this kind of fan base if there wasn't access to music digitally, or would it be bigger? You know, it is hard to say. But it's a lot more exposure than, say, the radio, or passing cassettes around in high school. It is just instant."

Jake Snider notes that Minus the Bear's talent for innovation is the result of five different brains working together. And Cory Murchy says the group never set out to have one particular sound. But even with the changes from one album to another, there is still a common thread that runs throughout the band's work.