“I’ve been thinking a lot about the moments and whether it means anything. And maybe it doesn’t mean anything to anyone else, but they’re the moments that we have and you gotta make the most of them.”
Interview by Theo Constantinou
Introduction by Jess Dooley
All Photographs by Eric Ashleigh for Paradigm Magazine
While valuing creativity as a mode of communication, bassist Cory Murchy of Minus the Bear asserts that his concerns are rooted in the present. He feels a creative responsibility to leave a mark on the world, and that this duty should be shared and indulged in by all individuals. To Cory, meaningfulness can be attributed to every moment and there is never a time that is more significant than another, despite what society may value or tell us to value at any one moment. Even after spending over a decade touring full time with Minus the Bear, he is content with the inconsistency of being a musician and finds solace in simple things, like being able to provide for himself and those around him. Comfort, above all else, is what we seek and will always seek and he finds it, most recently, in photographs taken by a close friend.
I’ve been reading this interview Stanley Kubrick did with Playboy back in the ‘70s, and there are some really powerful statements in there, and he says, “The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder and the capacity to experience total joy in something as simple as the greenness of a leaf. But as they grow older, the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their consciousness and slowly erode the joy and fever of their idealism and their assumption of immortality. As a child matures, he sees death and pain everywhere about him and begins to lose faith in the ultimate goodness of man. But if he is reasonably strong and lucky, he can emerge from the twilight of his soul into a rebirth that life’s eland, both because of and in spite of his awareness of the meaninglessness of life. He can forge a fresh sense of purpose and affirmation. He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining. The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile, but that it is indifferent. But if we can come to terms with this indifference, and accept the challenges of life, within the powers of death, however mutable man may be able to make, then our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.”
So, I ask you this: what meaninglessness in your life has forced you to create meaning? Whether that be with Minus the Bear, or whatever you believe creates meaning in your life.
Well, we’re all part of a cycle that gets recycled back and forth and I don’t know what the fuck happens when we all die or anything like that, but I kind of look at the fact that we have the ability to create and leave something behind; it’s your own way of leaving your mark on the world and it may mean nothing but it’s a mark nonetheless. And I think it’s a big responsibility, to create and leave behind something that you can stand behind and it speaks for itself, if that makes sense. So, that’s great though. I think we all create because we have a desire and a need to. Just for expression. Its communication, basically, what it comes down to. And who knows what happens, and fuckin’ who cares really? Because it’s all about the here and the now. And I think the fact that if you can be present with the here and the now, then you’re okay.
And maybe, just to hit the part where he talked about children, and I don’t have any kids of my own, but I love seeing children because they look at human beings as human beings. There’s no judgment. If I express any kind of love in my heart to a child, they immediately respond to that. Unfortunately, I feel like human beings start to become jaded by their peers and society and it just gets fucked up.
It goes back to him explaining about how you can recognize the green and freshness of a leaf, and then the older you get the more you see maybe or pay attention to the fact that it’s gonna fall one day and disintegrate into the earth and, the fact is that that’s part of it. And that’s just as beautiful as the green and the fresh? And, kids are amazing reflections to us jaded folks, because it doesn’t have to be that way and I think it’s a constant reminder that even in death there’s still life…
So this is kind of in line with the last question, but there’s this famous poem that was said to have spawned the Renaissance. I read a line that says:
“The universe has no creator or designer
There is no end or purpose to existence
Only ceaseless creation and destruction governed entirely by chance”
Do you believe that our lives are completely governed by chance? That there is no end or purpose to existence, only ceaseless creation and destruction?
It’s all relative so, I think that could be a truth. But what is truth? I try not to think I know what the fuck is going on, because I don’t. And to just try to be in the moment as much as possible. And I’ve definitely spent a lot of time in my past worrying about shit and worrying about things that don’t really matter. And like I said, just going back to being in the here and now, I think it’s the best thing you can do for yourself and your sanity, so…Whether it has meaning or not, I don’t know, and that’s okay. I’m not too worried about it.
The past happened, the future is unknown, so it is truly this conversation right now, that’s it. Like, I don’t know what is going to happen in 30 minutes, y’know?
This could be our last conversation, ever.
Right. It’s crazy ‘cause most people I find are always talking about something that doesn’t exist instead of worrying about the moment. We’re always trying to figure out what’s next instead of just…
Yeah, as a society, we are selfish and pretty self-centered. I mean, we only think we exist and that’s it. And I think that’s kinda the problem? You get out in nature and it’s not like animals have hurt feelings, y’know? They just do; they just are. They’re not pissed off that something’s trying to eat ‘em; they’re just getting away from it. They’re not gonna dwell on it; that’s life.
Cool. So, I read this thing in Vanity Fair with, Robert Frank, the photographer who made the book, The Americans. He says, “There are too many images, too many cameras now. We’re all being watched. It gets sillier and sillier. As if all action is meaningful. Nothing is really all that special; it’s just life. If all moments are recorded, then nothing is beautiful, maybe photography isn’t an art anymore. Maybe it never was.” So how do you feel about this, like, tonight after this interview, you might do another interview. I know there’s gonna be several photographers in the pit taking pictures of you guys. There’s probably, from this tour, thousands of photographs of Minus the Bear. But not all of those actions can be meaningful all the time. So, I guess, do you agree with his sentiment that if all moments are recorded then nothing is beautiful and that photographing all of these things, that it isn’t art anymore?
Well, one thing I actually do think is that every moment is meaningful. Just in the fact it’s a moment you’re experiencing and having. Without it, you aren’t alive. So, there in that fact, for me, every moment is meaningful. And I try to walk that, in my psyche and my everyday thing. It’s hard, doesn’t happen all the time. But I try to focus on that.
There’s a guy that we bring out on tour. His name’s Hiro Tanaka. He’s this guy from Japan, we met him years ago and he takes thousands of pictures. Probably a thousand pictures a day, he takes pictures of everything. And on one hand, you could say, that’s ridiculous and what is the purpose of this? But the fact is, he sees…he looks at life in—more from the eyes of a child. And I don’t say that in a demeaning way, but in like a really pure way…everything is actually pretty amazing, the fact that this is all going on. It doesn’t have to be the most raucous party or craziest show. It can be something as simple as someone sleeping backstage. Or a picture of a hamburger or whatever, and there’s a lot of ridiculous in all that but there’s a lot of ridiculous in life and its all part of it. Now, whether, it’s meaningful for anyone else or in the universe or for the universe, probably not. But that’s besides the point. Your moments are meaningful. And they can be cynical or depressing or happy or optimistic. Whatever; it is what it is. But I bring up Hiro because he’s actually putting a book out right now and it’s just photos of his—looking through it, I got really emotional and just kind of hit me really hard to kind of see these things from his perspective. And it kind of was like oh, okay, that’s why you take pictures of everything. And it isn’t like a thing to be cool or put on Instagram or anything, but it’s just his way of documenting things and capturing life.
I wrote a thing about him for the introduction of his book, just about how he’s kind of a shaman, in the sense that he can kind of show you that every moment does matter and that there’s a story in every moment. So I guess that’s what it is. Maybe it doesn’t even matter but there’s a story with every moment and every snapshot in life. And he just has the ability to kind of cross these plains of consciousness almost. It’s pretty remarkable. I feel like if everyone could meet Hiro, the world would be a much better place. ‘Cause he asks you questions, and y’know, it makes you think about the most mundane things. But he’s just this sponge for information.
We’ve been doing this for 10-11 years so a lot of it becomes mundane, meaningless shit. But when you have him around, you’re talking to him and he’s asking you questions, y’know, I can’t even put a particular thing about how he asks questions, but it just makes you appreciate the fuckin’ moment that you’re in and it’s a really incredible thing. Definitely check it out. You guys have to check out Hiro Tanaka. The book’s gonna be out on Asian Man Records, which is not a book label at all so they’re trying to figure out how to get it out but, he’s a special dude and he effects people around him and it’s pretty awesome. So this is a great interview because I’ve been thinking a lot about the moments and whether it means anything. And maybe it doesn’t mean anything to anyone else, but they’re the moments that we have and you gotta make the most of them.
Cool. One more?
Yeah, absolutely, man.
There was this thing that Satchel Page said I had written down because this is another part of what I think about, alot … He says, “Money and women: they’re two of the strongest things in the world. The things you’d do for a woman you wouldn’t do for anything else. Same with money.” That was the end of his quote but I’m gonna finish his quote with how I would’ve ended the same statement. “Same with money …” So why in the hell do we slave over an object of paper, given value by a society, and over creatures who tend to drive us mad, instead of searching deep inside one’s self for truth and answers?
Well, the fact of the matter is that we do live within society’s rules. You cannot. I suppose you can go out in the woods and do it outside of the realm of society, as much as possible at this point. But the fact of it—and the end of the day, we do live within society and its circle and money is part of it. In order to eat and survive and be comfortalbe and being able to provide and all that. I think there’s an overwhelming sense of greed that gets into things, and that’s where the problem is, so I dunno if that’s an answer or not. But, why do we do it? ‘Cause we like to be warm and have our bellies full ultimately, and I think that a lot of people go overboard and wanna just have shiny toys and all that bullshit. Then again, it’s one of those things I try not to question too much ‘cause that’s how we live and that is how it is. Women … yeah, they’re amazing but I think it’s a chemical and instinctive and all that. It goes beyond women. It’s people and the fact that we are alone and this world is scary sometimes and so, to have that connection to people is pretty important, whether it be women or men or whatever your deal is. So, I dunno if that’s an answer but … I think we all wanna be in someone’s arms at the end of the night. That’s a pretty driving force to keep going.