GRIZZLY BEAR with UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA at Massey Hall (178 Victoria), Wednesday (September 26), doors 7 pm. $29.50-$42.50. RTH, TM. See listing.
In the post-file-sharing era, the accepted wisdom is that bands should stop worrying about selling records and tour a lot. It's not the worst advice, and it's pretty much how Brooklyn's Grizzly Bear spent much of the last decade. But life on the road takes a toll, one of the reasons it took three years to follow up their breakthrough album, Veckatimest, with their new disc, Shields (Warp).
"We'd basically been endlessly touring and recording since late 2004," co-vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Ed Droste explains. "We thought it was time to have a little moment alone so we could check in with our friends and families, whom we hadn't really seen much of."
The six-month break they imposed was vital, but made their return to the studio trickier than anticipated. On the bright side, the reacquainting process led to a new attitude to playing together, and a revitalized band dynamic.
"I feel like we broke down a lot of old creative barriers. It was like there was a new synergy and energy going on, and there were different people in the band writing together, and more openness about playing with other people's material, lyrically and melodically. It was sort of a free-for-all."
There's a newfound sense of urgency, and less of the sleepy indie folk vibe with which they're usually associated. According to Droste, that's due to the freewheeling approach to songwriting, which had an unexpected side effect when it came time to decide what would end up on the album.
"We had so much material, and that was a real first for us. We didn't really have any extra songs left over at the end of Yellow House or Veckatimest. This time we had upwards of 30, so we were able to pick and choose which ones felt most exciting to us. We kept gravitating toward the charged emotional rawness behind a lot of material rather than the more pastoral songs reminiscent of our older stuff."