By Michael Pincott
2006’s Yellow House from Brooklyn natives Grizzly Bear snuck up and took all by surprise, making a late charge as one of the best records of that year. Fans are better prepared this time around for their new effort, Veckatimest. One of the band’s two vocalists, Daniel Rossen, speaks to The Brag about what has gone into this highly anticipated release.
Grizzly Bear initially existed as the project of the band’s other vocalist, Ed Droste, who released an album called Horn Of Plenty in 2004. It was with the addition of Rossen, and the other two members Chris Taylor and Chris Bear (not a stage name) that they put together the incredible Yellow House. Their sound, which has been refined on Veckatimest, is rich, textured, haunting, cascading vaguely between baroque pop and folk music. They’re a band equally comfortable, and just as remarkable musically, whether accompanied by grandiose string arrangements or bare acoustic guitar. Location has proven to be an aural landmark in Grizzly Bear’s language; the title Yellow House referred to Droste’s mother’s house, where the album was recorded, while the title of new album Veckatimest (say it Veck-a-tim-est), is named after an island in Dukes County, Massachusetts.
Grizzly Bear are a band who shrug off the trappings and clinical nature of a recording studio, at first by necessity and later by preference. However, it’s not only location that matters, but the nature of the process itself.
“When we did Yellow House we really didn’t have the money to record in the studio but we really wanted to make a record, so we did it in the living room of Ed’s old childhood home. We’ve always liked and preferred to record in more comfortable settings, so it does end up being a part of the way we make music. It’s a process that’s very comfortable … we all live together while we record. There’ll be a couple of people cooking while other people are tracking. It makes the process a lot slower in some ways. We just really take our time and record when we want to.”
Aside from a few modest career highlights like appearing on Letterman and touring with Radiohead, Grizzly Bear also played a set backed by the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra in February this year.
“It was actually one of the most rigid shows we’ve ever done. We could recreate a lot of the arrangements that we couldn’t really perform before, which was cool, but it also required us to be very rigid in our own playing. Usually our live show is a little bit looser and we’ll kind of rearrange the songs and change things around a lot until we get comfortable. We really had to be on top of our game and keep things very clear and rigid and play right to the orchestra, which was a little bit difficult, but it worked. It was amazing. It was a very cool challenge.”
Well Mr Rossen, since we’re talking about the band’s live show, how about getting some shows in Australia?
“Um, actually I think we’re doing a festival down there at the start of next year.”
“Yeah, it’s the one that tours different cities. I think it goes to New Zealand too. Is that locked in?” he asks his fellow band members. Somebody yells indiscernibly in the background.
“Yep, that’s locked in,” he says.
Hmm, I wonder which festival that could be…
Who: Grizzly Bear
What: Veckatimest is available now through Warp/Inertia.
When: You’ll just have to figure that one out for yourself…