July 19 2017

Three Sheets to the Wind: Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear

New York-Standard Sounds

When you’ve spent a full day doing press for the release of your highly-anticipated, long-awaited new record, the last thing you probably want to do is answer more questions. Such was the case when we met up with Ed Droste of the band Grizzly Bear on a recent evening at narcbar, our new East Side hangout. Fortunately, what you do want is a drink or three. Since Ed is a friend from way-back-when, and he already spilled the tea for us on the trials and tribulations that he went through between records, we dispensed with the typical, what-can-we-expect-from-the-new-record questions and went much farther afield. After some initial sass, and a few drinks, Ed got loose-lipped about awkward make-outs, Hillary, fidget spinners, and what keeps him up at night.  

DRINK #1
The Standard
The Standard
THE STANDARD: You’ve been saying that the new Grizzly Bear record is your favorite thing you’ve done so far. What did you mean by that? 
ED DROSTE: It’s my favorite because it was the most fun to make. It’s also the first one where I feel like there’s no filler. Have you heard it? 

Not yet! [Author’s note: We subsequently did and it’s really good.] 
It’s the first one where I feel awesome about every track and I’m not ambiguous about any of it. 

On a scale of 1-10, what’s your anxiety level on the new record? 
I’m like a 5. Pretty mid-range. It’ll go up around release date, but then there’s nothing you can do. I feel like people will love it. The feedback so far has been really good. 

[Photographer snaps a picture.] 
Ahh! The camera freaks me out. I’m not drunk enough yet. 

Yet. What experience do you want people to have with this record? 
I feel like every record we put out is like, listen at least 5 times. I think this one’s slightly more immediate, but I don’t know, someone could tell me the opposite. It’s hard to say when you made it. I think it’s the most propulsive record we’ve made. The drums are really front and center. It’s the most varied, but it’s still cohesive. It’s a sunnier, warmer journey. The last record was kind of cold. 

What did you guys do differently this time? 
[Sighs] 

How many times have you answered that question today? 
A trillion. It’s just a question that’s like, you do all the talking. Do people really want to hear about the making of the record? 

OK, let's talk about something else. What’s an album that on first listen you didn’t get, but grew on you over time? 
I’ll tell you: Beach House’s first album. I thought it was pretty, but it didn’t hook me. Something compelled me to come back and listen more and more, and now they’re one of my favorite bands of all time. They can do no wrong in my book. But I love how it takes some time to unfold. When I was young, the Pixies. The first time I heard them, I was like, “I don’t like this. He’s screaming.” The things that I always want to go back to aren’t the most immediate ones. For instance, I’m still discovering Kendrick [Lamar]. He’s amazing, and I know I need to listen to him more. I keep going back to it and it’s growing on me. There are plenty of albums that are critically-lauded that I still haven’t listened to because I wasn’t in the right headspace, or I wanted to listen to sad, mopey guitar rock. 

What do you listen to when you want to listen to sad, mopey guitar rock? 
Slowdive. That’s mean to call them mopey, I just love it. 

What are your feelings about “Two Weeks” now? 
I mean, I’m so glad we made it, and I do love it, but I am tired of that being the song that everyone goes to. 

DRINK #2
The Standard

I’m ready for this! 

There you go. You were a pretty hardcore Bernie supporter. Do you feel any sense of vindication about how things played out? 
Vindication? That’s an asshole thing to feel. I do think he would have won. But I don’t feel like, I told you so. I don’t feel that. 

What was your insight at the time that made you think that Bernie was the right candidate? A lot of people felt like Hillary was the safe choice. 
First of all, Hillary is an incredibly intelligent person who is crazy capable and overqualified, but unfortunately, because of the misogynist world that we live in, she’s been on the receiving end of a shitload of mudslinging for what, twenty-five, thirty years? And unfortunately, when people shit on you for that long, it doesn’t even matter if it’s true anymore because people are just like, that thing, this thing, and that’s just how it goes. You can’t be like, it’s not real, because, as we now know, people don’t care what’s real. So I was just like, Why in the year of the outsider, are we choosing the biggest insider there is? I was just like, This is stupid, this is a stupid choice right now, it’s not safe. I didn’t think it was safe. The only time I thought it was safe was when Trump said the pussy-grabbing comment, and then I was like, Ok, we got this. But up until that moment, I was like, I don’t know y’all, good luck. I mean, I posted, I got behind her, but the whole time I was like, Bernie’s drawing thousands of people, Trump is drawing thousands of people, Hillary’s not. Policy aside, even though Bernie spoke to way more of what I believe in, it didn't make any sense to me. Like, a Clinton?! Yeah, it’s the first female nomination. Amazing. Would it have been amazing to have her? Fuck yeah, I’d give anything for her to have won, but she’s a Clinton. I just feel like there’s a lot of people who are disgruntled with the status quo—obviously, because we elected a reality TV star—so it just didn’t seem like a smart move at all. I sort of saw through it, especially when I was on the campaign trail, and it was like, people don’t care

Where does that vocal part of you come from that uses the platform you built to put out these messages? 
My heart? I feel an obligation as someone who has even a small following to speak up for what I believe in, whether it be Bernie Sanders, Black Lives Matter, the refugee crisis, gay marriage. I feel like it’s irresponsible to not use your platform for good. And it pisses me off when peers of mine don’t, and I think it’s cowardly and stupid. And I think that more people should say something. Not every day. You’re not going to interrupt your concert and go on a tirade. No one does that—maybe a couple people. You have a platform. If people don’t like your opinion, they can just mute you, unfollow, or they can be really extreme and be like, I can’t listen to your music any more. Fuck it. 

You attract a fair number of trolls…
I think the trolls are gone. I had them for a while. I’m just like, Fuck off. Don’t come to my concert. I don’t care. 
DRINK #3
The Standard

Now that goes down smooth! 

OK, lightning round. What’s something you’ve discovered in the last year that you can’t live without? 
Hmmmmm. Something I can’t live without...it's coming to me. My house! I didn’t realize it until this year...but I might have to move out if I don’t make enough money! Did you order a snack? 

No, I forgot. 
I can’t live without a snack right now. You want me to get really loose-lipped, throw me a curveball. Ask me about fidget spinners! I just bought one today at the pharmacy. 

OK, this one came from a friend: tell us about the weirdest make-out you’ve ever had? 
I’ve had a lot. Weird or uncomfortable? 

Either. 
I was at a party when I was 23, and someone who I really didn’t like, who shall remain nameless, jumped on the bed, tackled me, and slipped their little lizard tongue in my mouth and I hated it. I don’t know if that’s a make-out…

That’s a make-out. 
Not really—it’s more like an assault. It would be a better question if it was sex. 

OK, what’s the weirdest place you’ve had sex? 
I’m not revealing that! I have some good spots though. 

What are your thoughts on marriage? 
I think there’s no need for it. If laws and taxes and adoptions and all those things didn’t hinge on it, I don’t see any need to put a relationship under that much stress. Marriage doesn’t mean that the person is not going to cheat on you. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to get divorced in twenty years, or five years, or one year. So I’m kinda like, what’s the point? Have a party, be stoked on each other. Other than the wedding, who fucking cares? 

[Writer’s note: Ed glances at a handsome waiter.] Now that’s a tall drink of water. 

You’re shameless, girl! What’s your drunk tell? 
Tell? 

How do we know when you’re drunk? 
I think it’s if I slur my words. I get flirty, too. 

Slurry and flirty. Best party theme of all time? 
I love Piera [Gelardi, Founder of Refinery 29]’s pink party. It’s legendary. 

When you were thirty, what did you want to have happen, career-wise? 
I was already in the throes of Grizzly Bear…

How big did you think Grizzly Bear could get?
I never have any expectations about how big something can be. 

What keeps you up at night? 
Wondering if I said something to someone that upset them. 

What’s your strongest sense? 
Eyesight. I have impeccable eyesight. I could read a sign so far away you wouldn’t believe. My hearing has gone to shit. My touch is average. Smell, eh, whatever—despite the big nose. 

When you come to New York now, aside from doing interviews, what are you trying to do? 
Sleep and [mumbles]. 

Sleep and get high? 
Sleep and hide! I might see some friends, but I’m not all about exploring the city. Been there, done that. 

What’s something that Grizzly Bear has done that you regret? 
I can’t tell you the truth, otherwise it will get back to me…we toured with someone who I wish we never had…some…people. 

What’s something in the last year that inspired you musically? 
Dick! Just kidding. I hate these questions. Fidget spinners! 

That’s the answer. 
It’s the answer to everything. I’ve got one in my hotel if you want to come over later. 

The Standard
Photographer
Hollyanne Faber