Published Sep 25, 2012While Grizzly Bear are describing their latest record, Shields, as their most collaborative effort yet, it's creation wasn't without friction.
After touring 2009's Veckatimest for a year and a half, the Brooklyn-based quartet took time off from one another before reconvening in Marfa, TX, last June. However, despite being a close-knit group of friends and bandmates six months prior, they were now closer to strangers.
"We sort of realized we needed to reacquaint ourselves with each other personally, but more so musically," singer-guitarist Ed Droste tells Exclaim!
Dan Rossen, in particular, found himself a tad out of step with his bandmates. Droste and bass player Chris Taylor had taken a writing retreat to Mexico prior to the sessions, returning with an arsenal of electronic-pop-sounding songs, mostly due to the limited instrumentation and recording equipment they'd packed for their trip. Rossen, who generally writes alone on the other hand, explains that he had gone in the other direction, penning "more acoustic-tinged, lyric-focused stuff."
"I got interested in how spare and pared down I could get with songs," Rossen says, having listened to a lot of blues records during the break. He wanted to "not actually rely so heavily on the sound of it: the lushness, the harmonies and the feeling of the music. Just try to make a really stripped-down basic sound. It was almost like a personal challenge."
The incongruity proved to be a challenge, as the quartet spent their month in Texas getting to know one another again. "It was confusing at first," admits Rossen.
Ultimately, a record's worth of material was recorded, then scrapped, with only "Sleeping Ute" and "Yet Again" making it onto the final album, albeit, in a much mutated form.
As for Rossen, his acoustic material was put to the side for the time being, with one track making it onto to his Silent Hour/Golden Mile EP released this spring. "I didn't want to fully rip it apart and start over," he says.
Ultimately, Grizzly Bear were able to pull it together and record the bulk of what became Shields in the same Cape Cod location where they laid down Veckatimest. They also found new common ground, which allowed for a more collaborative approach.
"It's a lot more of an interesting record for that reason," says Rossen. "The lines were a lot more blurred."
As previously reported, Grizzly Bear are out on the road, with Canadian shows set for Toronto on Wednesday (September 26) and Vancouver on October 6 and 7. You can see the entire schedule here.
Shields is out now on Warp.