"we found our creative energy again”
A Certain Evolution - Behind Grizzle Bear's Potent Renewal

Grizzly Bear has always seemed like a misnomer. On record, the Stateside four-piece are more cuddly bear than grizzly, with their mantra-like sighs spreading slowly, almost insidiously around the globe throughout a three-album career span.

Seated in a Central London bar, the name seems even more absurd. Ed Droste and Chris Bear are charming, quiet and extremely open. Droste has a dry wit and a contagious laugh while Bear carries a soft naivety, a fresh-faced innocence that lights up his corner of the room. Only recently sealing off sessions on upcoming album ‘Shields’, the pair are attempting to introduce their new material, the first signs of activity since the two-year touring spell which accompanied the breakthrough success of ‘Veckatimest’.

“It feels like just right, I think,” Droste admits, after being pushed on this break. “Because we really toured the last album for almost two years so really when you think about the last show we did to this point now it wasn’t that much time which was actually spent dilly-dallying around. But we did have a nice four-, five-month break where we did nothing. Then we jumped back into the whole writing process which is always for us sort of on again/off again, on again/off again.”

It’s a brisk, almost throwaway summary, but it feels just right. Grizzly Bear sealed off one period of their career, and then took a break. Some formed side-projects, while others travelled - all four members used the period to find a new headspace, to catch up with family and old friends. “You just get really tired of the travel and performing every night,” the singer sighs. “Not that it’s not amazing - and we love performing - but after two years of it, it can be.. you start to look at yourself in the mirror and be like, ‘What the fuck?! I look like shit, I need to get home and like sleep for three weeks straight!’” he laughs. “I think it was good also to just rest, get your head out of the whole music scene. It’s nice to get home and just sort of remember that I can have a normal day-to-day existence which has nothing to do with this.”

Whereas some bands demand full-on, 24/7 levels of commitment, stamina and perseverance it seems that Grizzly Bear are a little looser. Able to split off and reconvene, the quartet eventually sat down together last year to begin writing sessions. “In early 2011 Bear and I took a writing retreat to Mexico for a month and tried to get the juices flowing, which was really fun. Dan was writing on his own then, and then we all decided to get together in Martha, Texas, in June. A year ago, exactly,” Droste asserts. “We had a bunch of material and we actually recorded twelve songs and we started the album thinking we were going to finish it there, but it was just a premature start,” he admits. “We weren’t ready, we wanted more material. We needed time to re-acquaint ourselves with one another, musically and creatively. Get the synergy going. But it was a good experience in that, that was sort of what that trip ended up becoming. The place where we found our creative energy again.”

Words by Robin Murray
Photo by Jonnie Chambers

The full version of this interview appears in the September 2012 issue of Clash Magazine. Find out more about the issue.

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