by Bryan Culver
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume most Seattle-based musicians aren’t spending a lot of their time in between gigs hanging out in London. I mean—Seattle-to-London—that’s a long haul. Then again, Alex Rose is far from your average Seattle-based musician. When he’s not hanging out in London, more likely than not, it’s because he’s on the road manning the synths for Seattle-based alt-rock mainstays Minus the Bear.
I got to catch up with the keyboardist on the eve of an extensive U.S. tour kicking off later this month, as well as discuss their 6th full-length album VOIDS, which is slated to drop this today, March 3rd. The album also marks a return to their original record label Suicide Squeeze.
In many ways VOIDS feels like a bit of a ‘comeback’ album: It’s their first album release in five years, during which time the band has had ample time to come up with what Rose described as, “a lot of songs.” This is partially because the band used a slightly different songwriting process to generate the material for VOIDS—instead of hinging primarily on guitarist and lead-vocalist Jake Snider—Rose had an opportunity to step up and take a more active role in the recording process.
That’s not to say Rose’s keyboard chops haven’t played a pivotal role in shaping Minus the Bear’s sound over the years. Minus The Bear formed back in 2001—that’s an impressive span for any band—and to achieve such longevity, the band has had to inevitably grapple with numerous transitions.
Rose’s first interacted with the band as a sound engineer at Suicide Squeeze during the recording sessions for Minus the Bear’s 2nd LP, 2005’s Menos El Oso. After keyboardist Matt Bayles left the band in 2006 to focus on his solo career, Rose was asked to join as fully-fledged band member.
Recently in 2015, another found member, drummer Erin Tate, also left the band. As such, VOIDS has an undeniably somber tone overall. You can get a sneak peek by listening to their first single, “Invisible”, via the band’s SoundCloud. The song features a number of Minus the Bear’s signature motifs, including jagged guitar grooves, as well as a shimmeringly-sleek production quality could certainly in part at least, be attributed to Rose’s keyboard work.
In fact, when asked what the biggest highlight from recording the new album was, he immediately brought up the newest addition to his collection, a shiny new Roland JD-800. This time around, instead of relying on mostly on MIDI-generated sounds, he relied heavily on the JD-800 to derive his own sounds.
If you’re going to be in town on March 25th, be sure to catch them at the Union Transfer. They will be making their way through several cities though, so be sure to check out their full tour schedule below:
10 – Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory * (Sand supporting instead of Bayonne)
11 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot * (Sand supporting instead of Bayonne)
12 – Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall * (Sand supporting instead of Bayonne)
14 – Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater
18 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
20 – Orlando, FL @ Beacham Theater
21 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
22 – Charlotte, NC @ The Underground
23 – Richmond, VA @ The National
24 – Washington, DC @ Black Cat
25 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
26 – Boston, MA @ Royale
28 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall
29 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
30 – Buffalo, NY @ Town Ballroom
31 – Toronto, ON @ The Opera House
01 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls
02 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrews Hall
04 – Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line
05 – Omaha, NE @ Slowdown
06 – Chicago, IL @ House of Blues
07 – St. Louis, MO @ Delmar Hall
08 – San Antonio, TX @ Maverick Music Festival
10 – Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
12 – Los Angeles, CA @ Belasco Theater
13 – San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
14 – Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
15 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox