The four musicians who make up Grizzly Bear — Edward Droste, Daniel Rossen, Christopher Bear and Chris Taylor — spent a month recording their first album as a group. That's not unusual, but while recording, Grizzly Bear camped out in the house where Droste grew up, near Boston. The building provided a name for the album: Yellow House.
This summer, on tour with the singer Feist, Droste said that during recording, the house itself became something of a collaborator.
"You end up using everything from the house, so little cricks and creaks and recording in the hallway here," Droste said. "We used the same old slightly out-of-tune piano, and there were pots from the kitchen used for percussion. There's little creaking chairs here and there."
Grizzly Bear's songs are warm and comfortable, yet somehow strange and new; homemade and packed with minute detail, but full of power and sweeping emotion. Multi-instrumentalist Chris Taylor, who also produced the record, says the credit for that balance goes to the house.
"Something about a house is just a living, breathing environment, and a studio is just... It still never feels alive no matter how much history you even know has been there," Taylor says. "Something about somebody's house, though, there's a kitchen, and maybe the trash smells. You sleep there, you make your music there, you use the house as an acoustic environment that sort of changes depending upon where you are."
This weekend, after more than a year of steady touring, the band played its last show in support of Yellow House. Today, the musicians release a CD that feels very much like an encore.
Their new record, titled Friend, contains reworked versions of songs from Grizzly Bear's first two albums, plus remixes, covers of "He Hit Me" by The Crystals and the traditional song "Deep Blue Sea," along with three covers of Grizzly Bear songs by fellow musicians.
During its time away from performing, Grizzly Bear will make a new full-length album. But it'll have to find somewhere new to record it: Droste's mother sold the Yellow House this summer.