Twenty-two minutes with Minus the Bear’s Jake Snider

A couple of Mondays ago, the Bowery Electric was jam-packed for a secret Minus the Bear show in promotion of the band’s new album, Omni. The crowd was filled with loyal fans, sweaty and singing along. Recorded by famed producer Joe Chiccarelli (who worked with Frank Zappa, Elton John and Radiohead), Omni departs slightly from MTB’s math-rock past, incorporating more harmonies and poppy refrains. In a scratchy, romantic voice, lead singer Jake Snider speaks of love—the kind that’s short but intense, that leaves you with a lot of questions and lovesick lyrics. Soon after the New York show, we caught up with Jake about the new album, the band’s Facebook page, and what he dislikes the most about doing interviews.

I went to your show on Monday and noticed that most of the fans were big, burly men. How would you describe the typical Minus the Bear fan? The ones that I notice are usually cute girls, in the front of the audience, usually with a burly man resting their arms on them. A lot of couples, and a lot of jocky dudes, for sure. A lot of people who’ve heard our music on their college radio station with their backwards hat on.

Are you a fan of the backwards hat? I’m not a big fan of it. I think baseball hats should be for baseball players.

This is your fourth record. Is it the best? I think it’s the best, yeah. The latest is always the best, for me. It’s the one that’s always the most exciting. It feels a little warmer. You’re accomplishing new things.

Is there a theme or inspiration for this album? The theme that I’ve been going with is kind of like a summer affair, the short love affair that starts, is over quickly, that’s intense.

Why the switch to Dangerbird from Suicide Squeeze? We were out of contract with Suicide Squeeze after Planet of Ice came out, so we really didn’t have a label at the time. We worked with David Dickenson at Suicide Squeeze for our whole career and wanted to take that opportunity to see what having a different relationship would be like. You know, we left Suicide Squeeze as friends, we see David all the time and he still promotes the hell out of our band and record.

Who is your favorite Dangerbird artist? Oh, I’d have to say probably The Dears right now. I love Darker My Love.

How was working with Joe Chiccarelli? It was great, it was intense as well. It was our first time working with someone who wasn’t Matt Bayles, the producer that we always work with. We wanted to find somebody who had the ability to get amazing sound on the record. And after hearing a lot of the records he’s done over the years that’s kind of his forte — big, powerful records. After getting him on board he pretty much whipped us into shape, made us play our songs a million times until he had what he wanted, made me write lyrics over until he liked them, all that stuff. It was a really all-encompassing recording experience.

What are you listening to these days? I’m listening to a lot of Steely Dan, kind of my go-to what I listen to lately. Steely Dan, Van Morrison, Donovan, quite a bit of old stuff. I really like Diane Birch’s new record, Bible Belt. But not a hell of a lot of new stuff, not a lot of contemporary bands.

Lady Gaga or Beyonce? Beyonce.

Best live show you’ve seen? That’s a good question. Best live show I’ve ever seen, either Roger Waters at Coachella a couple years ago, that was fucking phenomenal. We just played a festival and one of our old tour mates, this band Piebald, they’re like a pop punk band from Boston that we went on tour with when we were just starting out, they played a reunion show at the Bamboozle festival. It was pretty fun to watch.

Any pre-performance rituals? I’ll usually have a Jack Daniels of some kind, chill out, just relax. And then we all put our hands in the middle of a circle and do some kind of cheer.

Where do you like to hang out in NYC? Well last time we were there we hung out at Union Pool. Union Pool’s got that great taco cart.

What’s on your rider? Usually I think its four cases of beer, two bottles of Jack Daniels, a bottle of tequila, pound of turkey, orange juice.

Does it all get consumed? The booze usually does, the beer has staying power depending on the city. Depending on the guests. But we usually get rid of the bottled liquor pretty easily.

Best and worst things about doing interviews? I like the fact that people are interested in talking to me about my band and what I do for a living. It’s a pretty incredible thing to have people interested in what you do and that people want to read that article when it’s published. My least favorite thing about doing interviews is usually simple inconvenience, being pulled out of my normal routine. Sometimes you’re going through your day and you want to have a cheeseburger or something, and you have to do an interview.

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