Photography by Mr John Lindquist | Styling by Ms Tanja Martin
Words by Mr Tom M Ford
Despite being the founder of a much-fêted harmonic indie-folk band with a diverse fan base including the likes of Jay-Z, Beyoncé and Radiohead, the polite, modest demeanour of Mr Droste, who towers over me in a North London studio, belies success. Since humble bedroom-recorded tracks at the turn of the century, Grizzly Bear have released popular tracks such as "Knife" and "Two Weeks", which have appeared in various TV commercials and shows as well as three exquisite studio albums - perfecting a distinct, melodic sound along the way.
Whetting our appetite for LP number four, Shields, released 18 September on admired label Warp, was the release of single "Sleeping Ute" - all soaring guitars and percussion - earlier this year. "It's indicative of the new album," Mr Droste tells me in his lilting Massachusetts drawl. "It's a bit more raw and exposed - less polite," he continues. Considering how far they have come, and that their previous effort, Veckatimest, reached number eight in the US charts, he exudes calm at the prospect of following it.
Mr Droste's understated approach stretches to sartorial style too. Although keen to try on our new season offerings, the band members aren't ones for extravagance. "I love fashion to a certain extent, but not all of the band do. I have my labels I really like such as rag & bone and Band of Outsiders, but I don't really go for that Belgian craziness. I respect it, but it's not really my day-to-day wear." For a group whose musical synergy seeps into every track (they effortlessly swap vocal and instrumental duties), it isn't a surprise that they eschew shallow images, too. "There's no uniform or flashiness. I think it's gimmicky to do that - it's then more about the image than the music."
There's no uniform or flashiness. I think it's gimmicky to do that - it's then more about the image than the music
Despite the latter being the main focus, Mr Droste is refreshingly unpretentious when talk turns to his passion. Fan and friend of current indie favourites Beach House, as well as newcomer Kindness, he fed on a diet of rock such as Pavement and the Pixies as a youth, and becomes animated talking about unexpected old favourites: "I was listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac during the latest album, although you wouldn't notice it. I was rediscovering Missy Elliot's first album this past year. I love it." Attempting to recall influences during Grizzly Bear's initial output, he laughs, wistfully referring to the "blur" of those early years.
This time around, we can ignore allusions to youthful excess and incongruous music. Creativity is today's only excess, buoyed by increased collective input: "Song-wise, the new album is our strongest collection. We had 25 tracks we could pick from," Mr Droste says. "We just kept writing and there was a lot more collaborative experimenting with each other. If Veckatimest is us with our heads in the clouds, then this one is the earth album. Our feet are on the ground."
As he leaves, misplacing his Comme des Garçons wallet after patiently holding the door for me, Mr Droste talks nostalgically of an abandoned career in journalism. Let's be thankful he swapped magazines for music and that Grizzly Bear continues on its way, with feet firmly on the ground.
The five tracks Mr Droste currently has on repeat