Check out our article on Grizzly Bear in this week's paper, or read it online here. Founding member Ed Droste was kind enough to take the time to answer our questions, although we unfortunately couldn't submit his responses with the article before the deadline for the print edition. Thankfully, the magical interweb knows no such deadline, so here is the Mercury interview with Droste.
Grizzly Bear - "Two Weeks"
Grizzly Bear performs Sunday May 24 at the Aladdin Theater here in Portland, and on Monday May 25 at the Sasquatch! Music Festival.
MERCURY: I read a lot about the house where Yellow House was recorded. Can you tell me about the recording of Veckatimest, and how the location contributed to the record? From a technical standpoint, has Grizzly Bear become a lot more "hi fi"?
DROSTE: Veckatimest was recorded in three distinct locations. We began in upstate New York, in the Catskills at this amazing estate that formerly functioned as a recording studio called Allaire, that we were fortunate enough to get to use gratis. It was absolutely incredible looking. Huge panoramas, big vaulted ceilings, and giant beams. The acoustics were incredible. We were also thrilled about getting to use some of their vintage microphones and an old beautiful mellotron. After that we took some time off and went on tour with Radiohead and reapproached the songs with a bit of a fresh perspective in a totally different environ: my grandmother's house on Cape Cod, which is small, intimate, and blustery! It's on the water and cozy, and we had a fire going the entire time, which often found its way into the recording. It was a great location for close acoustic guitar tones. Then finally we recorded at the church we are lucky enough to call our rehearsal space in NY. Amazing natural reverb for voices. Not sure if we are more "hi fi," I think we just matured a bit both in recording, performance and songwriting.
This year, you've played live with an orchestra led by Owen Pallett, and played songs that won't be played without an orchestra in the future. In an ideal world, would you want to always play with an orchestra? Are there any more orchestra shows in the future? You also played in a church at SXSW. Is there an ideal setting for a Grizzly Bear show?
Actually the orchestra was led by conductor Michael Christie and the arrangements of our songs were done by composer Nico Muhly. Owen did his own opening set with orchestra on the same evening. We were both insanely excited and nervous about performing with an orchestra, as there is a bit of a communication barrier between us and them in regards to sight reading and terminology. Ultimately, Nico really helped as ambassador and the whole thing went off great. So much so, we've been getting more offers from other orchestras to do shows with them which I think we'd DEFINITELY want to try again. It's a lot of work, and TOTALLY different than a regular Grizzly Bear show, but I think we really enjoy trying as many different styles and types of shows as we get the chance to.
How do outside projects like Department of Eagles contribute to the band dynamic? Is it important to have "time off"?
We all need time off. I was really impressed with Dan's ability to do both projects, as that's insanely time consuming, but ultimately I'm so glad he did as he made one of my favorite albums of 2008. Daniel is one of the main songwriters in Grizzly Bear, so of course anything he does hugely effects us, luckily so it's always in a positive light.
Can you talk a little bit about album leaks, file sharing, and how that's affected you as a band, and also a music fan (i.e. the Animal Collective incident)?
Leaks are reality and we've come to terms with them. I'm more disappointed about the way people approach an album now rather than losing sales. I think people become a bit entitled with the internet and expect things as soon as they want them and on their own terms. People will download dozens of albums a week, do flash armchair reviews and often dismiss lovely albums when they haven't even listened to them in high quality. On the flip side, it reaches more people around the world and people find other ways of showing support via coming to shows or buying a T-shirt. Ultimately we are a band that would greatly suffer without the internet and we are very grateful for all the blogs and websites that were early advocates of ours. I only worry about the art of making an "album" that gets listened to in entirety (and I'm speaking from experience) because often people or myself will get an album and just delete the tracks they don't like or shuffle the album. I catch myself doing it and I think to myself wait, that's NOT how the artist wanted it to be heard. Obviously in the long run I'll like what I like as will anyone, but it's at least important to try and listen to an album once straight through and in high quality.