Interview With Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear

Ed Droste, the out front-man of Grizzly Bear, is a man on the move. Almost as tall as a grizzly bear — but as approachable as a teddy bear — Droste has been touring almost non-stop since last August with his band, and there doesn't appear to be an end in sight.

Currently performing in support of their critically acclaimed sophomore effort Yellow House (Warp), Grizzly Bear is winding up their tour with Canadian singer Feist, where they occupy the coveted opening slot. And then it's back on the road for the Pitchfork Music Festival and a variety of other dates. Droste sat down with at The Vic in Chicago to talk about Grizzly Bear.

AE: Grizzly Bear is on tour with Feist until the end of June 2007. How has that been?
: It's been so much fun. She and her band are all amazingly nice, great vibes. They have a totally different audience than we do, so it's great to play for new people. She's just exploded — she's huge now. It's really cool.

AE: Has Grizzly Bear been playing any new material while on tour, and if so, how has it been going over with the audience?
: We play two songs from the first album and maybe four from the new one and a cover. We have some new material, but it's a little louder and it doesn't work for this tour. We're trying to do the mellow set for Feist.

AE: Along with Grizzly Bear, artists such as Chris Garneau, Joel Gibb of The Hidden Cameras and Antony of Antony and the Johnsons are breaking the gay male musician mold.
: I'm surprised you didn't mention Final Fantasy or Patrick Wolf, and the lead singer from Deerhunter, Bradford Cox.

AE: Those are other good examples. But you're all essentially breaking the mold, or reinventing it, if you will.
: What is the mold? Are you going to use Rufus [Wainwright] as an example? [laughs]

AE: I was going to say Bob Mould, but the difference is that you and Rufus and some of the others have all been out right from the start.
: I think it's funny that a lot of our straight fans don't realize that I'm gay, because they don't read the gay publications. And the straight publications don't feel the need to write about it, which is nice. I don't care if they do, but it's not really defining of the music.

AE: But do you see yourself fitting into the realm of queer musicians?
: I think anyone can fit in. I don't think it's an exclusive scene. There are tons of different types of gay musicians that are doing music. Dear Hunter is a total shoe-gazer/My Bloody Valentine type of thing. Patrick Wolf is very theatrical. And we're just sort of folky. So, sure — why not? I fit in. I'm not stressed about it. [laughs]

AE: Has Grizzly Bear ever been invited to or would you ever play a GLBT music festival such as Idapalooza [in TN] or Alt Q [in Chicago]?
: Yeah, I'm sure if it was incorporated into our tour schedule. It's not like we identify as a gay band. I'm the only gay member. I think there was something in Seattle that we were invited to do, but we just didn't have time or it didn't work out.

AE: Would you say that you get an undue amount of attention from the Bear community due to the name of the band?
: Yeah. There's this site called Bears Gone Wild that did a little Q&A with us. But I don't think that I've noticed that our shows have a huge bear population. Maybe I'm just not aware of it. Maybe they are coming. I have no idea. I think there are definitely some bear fans, and I've discussed it with a few bears.

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