Guitarist Dave Knudson On Seattle And The Evolution Of Minus The Bear

13 July 2017 | 1:37 pm | Rod Whitfield

"For the last five years there's been a lot of uncertainty, but also a lot of re-energising."

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If you live in a city like Seattle, with its magnificent musical heritage that extends back well before things exploded in the early nineties, you can't help but assimilate and be deeply affected by its vibe and its history. Dave Knudson, guitarist and co-founding member of Seattle indie rockers Minus The Bear, agrees wholeheartedly with this statement, and is proud of what his city has given the world in a musical and cultural sense.

"Seattle has such a great history, even back before grunge even existed," Knudson states, "what was so good about Seattle when I was growing up was that there was so many DIY clubs and venues and all-ages places. You're in high school or junior high and you go to these shows and you realise that these are just regular people, that are just playing instruments, starting bands, promoting shows, so it was just a very welcoming community."

Part of that sense of community in the city was a feeling of friendly rivalry, which only led the musicians and bands to improve their individual and collective craft. "[That environment] nurtured young people and new artists," he remembers, "and it was very empowering when you saw regular dudes step up onto a stage and totally tear it up. You thought 'if I just practise a little bit harder, or if I get into a really good band, I can do that.'"

He feels that the isolated nature of the city, and its less than hospitable climate, also has a powerful effect on the city's artistic output. "So there were lots of clubs, lots of all-ages action, lots of cool radio stations that would cover local stuff, a lot of 'zines back before the internet," he says, "and we're kinda in the middle of nowhere, up in the north western corner of the States, and I think people get a little insular and they tend to help each other out.

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"It rains a lot, so you might go inside and play drums, write a song on your guitar, or write some lyrics, it really just inspires creativity and wanting to do something."

15 years and six albums' worth of Minus The Bear's creativity will be on full display in Australia in August when the band comes to tour our nation, in what will be the band's third trip Down Under and first in over five years. They have been through much change and upheaval since the last time they were here, for Soundwave in 2011, but they have put all that behind them now and are looking forward to reconnecting with their Aussie devotees.

"We parted ways with our original drummer, we've changed labels, we've changed a lot of stuff," he says. "For the last five years there's been a lot of uncertainty, but also a lot of re-energising. We also knew we wanted to continue, it was eye-opening and fantastic at the same time.

"But we'll be with you guys at the beginning of August and that'll be good fun."