When the members of Minus Ned returned to their L.A. home after their first nation-wide tour, they were met by an unpleasant surprise. They found their house in shambles, like a crack house in the TV show “Breaking Bad,” according to vocalist and drummer Zach Guglin.
Guglin, vocalist Marissa DuBois, guitarists Michael Martens (also piano) and Mark Pinkert, and bassist Trevor Raffauf were supporting their album “Are We Finally Fitting In?” While they have recorded before, they think of the new album as their first. Guglin said their previous efforts were mostly experimental and don’t reflect what the current band has to offer.
The band was originally founded by Ned, who has since left the group- hence Minus Ned. The current incarnation of the band came together after the guys found DuBois through a Craigslist ad. She sang a part on an earlier album and “she killed it,” said Guglin.
DuBois grew up in Arizona, where she sang solo and with a few punk bands before her fateful move to L.A. at 19. She also used her time before Minus Ned to sharpen her vocals and songwriting skills.
“Are We Finally Fitting In” has variety of musical styles to offer. “III” is a soulful tune sung by DuBois. When asked where the lyrical inspiration was, Guglin (one of the band’s songwriters, along with Martens) explained that the band feels songs take on their own meanings to listeners.
“Whatever reason we wrote it becomes unimportant” once the band plays it to an audience, Guglin said. He wrote “Wayside,” a darker folk track with a Latin infusion, after a visit to South America, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect in the lyrics.
“Gotta Get Out” and “Come On” are the two heaviest and loudest songs on the record, helping to break up the other softer songs. DuBois said she enjoys singing in a wide range of styles – from the attempt at angry grrl pop of “Gotta Get Out” to the quiet harmonies in “Something Better.”
The band looks for ways to record in unique ways. They use Pro Tools to add in neat effects, and even used a recording of speakers blasting into a pot in “New Orleans.” Guglin said they model this search for “creative sounds that you’ve never heard before” after their music influence, Radiohead.
The song “Come On” also provides the inspiration for the album’s title: “Are you finally fitting in/Are you sticking to the mold?” Guglin said the band is still trying to find its musical niche in the indie-pop culture.
“How are you innovative and at the same time fit into pop culture?” Guglin asked.
DuBois added the band also worries about the state of the recording industry and how they will stand out from the endless competition. Guglin is frank that they are looking to make popular music that will draw fans and album sales, but contends they can still make their own brand of music.
The band did all their own booking for their recent tour in a mad rush that Guglin said was easier than expected and helped them make valuable connections with venues. DuBois said the band benefited from playing together almost every day.
Minus Ned have been playing four or five songs slated to be on the next album while on tour. They hope to work on it through the winter and spring, and are looking to tour again summer 2012.
You can also catch them on Facebook.