Grizzly Bear is that rare indie band that crosses over, explodes, and then still stubbornly insists on making good music. It doesn’t happen often, but the band have done it with their new album Shields. We talk to Daniel and Chris about how their upcoming album was a long, long time coming.
Shields is your fourth album after three years’ absence – was it easy making it after such a long time apart?
Daniel: No. Some of it did, but we always have a high standard and the process was pretty drawn out this time. There was a lot of deep consideration about whether anything was good enough. We were trying to be more collaborative and come together more in our tastes, which have got more diverse in the last couple of years whilst we’ve spent some time away.
Was there the pressure on after your breakout album Veckatimest?
D: Personally, there’s enough pressure to just make better music as musicians. We didn’t set out to become bigger or anything.
But you went from touring in your car to opening for Radiohead. Did you ever think that would happen?
Chris: There was four years between starting and the Radiohead thing. It wasn’t overnight – we just toured a record for three years that no one heard. We had tonnes of time on the road; it’s just that no one had really heard of us. We just stayed out on the road and tried to keep going.
It’s the opposite of what happens in music now – bands blow up so fast, don’t they?
C: Five minute success stories, literally. They did something and it’s on the internet and suddenly they’re the buzziest thing and they get a deal with, like Interscope. It’s weird.
Was the temporary space good for everyone?
C: It was six years of being around each other non-stop either in the studio or on tour. I think by the end we were just like: “Love you guys, but don’t want to look at you for a second, see you in a bit.” So we all went our separate ways which I think was a really good move, you know? Coming into this record we find new moments of excitement and we’re like: “Cool, we’re really managing to do something different in this record.”
D: We came back and had a distance from how we always used to work. I think we used to have a lot of tropes and instincts that we put in our songs, like ‘do the harmony thing’ and ‘do this type of build’. We didn’t quite always follow exactly our old instincts, so it was a more exciting record for us.
So how would you describe the new record?
D: It’s different in a lot of ways, I think. There’s a lot more force. I don’t know what that mean – that doesn’t mean anything. It’s not as reserved as our previous work.
C: Yeah, there’s very little reserved about it.
What do you want your listeners to take away from this new album? What do you want them to feel like after they listen to it?
D: That they want to listen to it again. That’s pretty much it.
New single ‘A Simple Answer’ is out 10th September. Grizzly Bear play Brixton Academy in London on 22nd October.grizzly-bear.net