Its been a big autumn for Ed Droste of Brooklyn, N.Y.based band Grizzly Bear and Owen Pallett of Torontos Final Fantasy. The two musicians meet up for some dick talk.
Owen: Hey, Ed.
Ed: Hey, Owen. Isnt my bed comfortable?
Owen: Its lovely. I love the chipped paint look.
Ed: I know, it reminds me of beds in summer houses on Cape Cod with their weird, insane asylum look. Pre-WWI beds or something.
Owen: Reminds me of my Dads farm in Northern Ontario.
Ed: I had to find it on eBay. Well, my boyfriend found it.
Owen: Really? Thats a pity. That doesnt sound so... real. A bed like this should be an heirloom, you know?
Ed: Whatever. Its cheaper than going to an expensive antique store.
Ed: So thats pretty real, man, my dollar is real.
Owen: Yeah. I guess so. I went to Jamie Stewarts house in San Francisco. Hes the guy from Xiu Xiu. And his house is filled with all these old Chinese antiques. And it looked crazy, like he had this collecting Asia thing going on. But it was all inherited from his Dad.
Ed: I wish I could get into collecting and decorating and fagging out. But its my boyfriendChadwhos in interior design. So, basically, he spearheaded this whole process. And I told him I wanted one of these crazy insane asylum beds and he found it for me.
Owen: Thats cool. You have a nice house.
Ed: You mean apartment. Can you imagine having a house in New York?
Owen: Youd have to be pretty loaded. So... your new album [Yellow House] is out and its been getting amazing reviews everywhere. How does that make you feel?
Ed: Pretty sassy... [Laughs] No, just kidding. No, it makes me happy that people are taking the time to listen to it. Its not something that comes quickly. Its not an immediate album. Its nice that people arent just listening to the MP3s on the blogs.
Owen: Yeah, well, youre not like a singles band or anything. Youre not Daft Punk.
Ed: Even though that is my deepest, darkest desire.
Owen: Well, I had a conversation last week with a Grizzly Bear fan who was a little weirded out by the fact that your personal musical taste veers towards the new soft-rock revival. You like Junior Boys, and Hot Chip.
Ed: Youd call that soft rock?
Owen: Totally. It sounds like Hall & Oates.
Ed: I just like that shit. I like it smooth!
Owen: Im not dissing it. Its just totally different from Grizzly Bear.
Ed: I guess I just like easy listening. Sometimes crazy vocals just really freak me out.
Owen: I know. Weve had that discussion. You dont like it when I scream.
Ed: Yeah, Owen, you always scream into your violin and I dont want you to. But I have a tendency to mumble and ooh and ahh all the time.
Owen: Different strokes. Youre shy and Im bipolar. But youre right, though, I got a letter that said, Dude youve got to stop being so totally emo and screaming into your violin.
Ed: Is screaming emo?
Owen: Nobody uses the word emo correctly anymore. I dont know what people mean when they say it. Its like pretentious, which has the connotation of just being a negative word, but its just a state of assuming that the audience knows as much as you do.
[Eds phone rings. He has a syncopated easy-rock ringtone.]
Ed: Sorry, sorry. What were you saying?
Owen: Nothing. I was just saying that journalists often say pretentious when they actually mean trite or perhaps opaque. Anyway, I feel like calling someone emo has nothing to do with actual emo, its just peoples way of saying I dont like it.
Ed: Youre not emo. You get accolades. Hello, you just won, like, the biggest award in Canada. The Polaris Music Prize.
Owen: Doesnt make the screaming any better.
Ed: Please. Youre on the cover of every Canadian music magazine.
Owen: It doesnt make the screaming any better! Its flattering but it doesnt make the album Canadas Blood On the Tracks or anything. [Laughing] Its a stupid album about some stupid shit!
Ed: Its not stupid, youre just being self-deprecating because youre gay.
Owen: [Laughing] Oh, thats the reason? I hate myself because Im a gay?
Ed: Gays are always shooting themselves down, being like, I suck.
Ed: Just kidding, I rule!
Owen: [Laughing] Well, I do think that self-deprecation and self-doubt are tied into narcissism.
Ed: Yeah. Its called fishing for compliments.
Owen: No, its more than that. When somebody says Oh, my album is shitty, its because they believe that they as an artist are capable of far more than the actual results would have the world believe.
Ed: So youre saying youre a narcissist?
Owen: Maybe. Gays and narcissists have a long list of common traits. But Im actually totally pleased with my shitty album.
Ed: You dont think its a piece of shit. Youve vehemently defended it to many people.
Owen: Uh, not, not really. Ive defended some of the choices Ive made but
I still think the album is a stupid piece of shit.
Ed: Wow. Well, you heard it here.
Owen: But thats not self-deprecating, Im just deprecating the shit I make. As for my self, I think Im pretty cool.
Owen: So. Lets talk about the future.
Ed: The future... well, were both in relationships so we cant slut around the world the way we secretly want to.
Ed: We can only talk about it in interviews all the time.
Owen: What country do you feel like youd most want to slut around in?
Ed: I think, recently, France.
Owen: A friend of mine who was slutting around Europe a few years ago told me that the French boys all had the biggest dicks.
Owen: Yeah. He said, without question. He said that in France he saw two of the biggest dicks hes ever seen in his life.
Ed: Thats really wild. I would never have guessed.
Owen: I like the fact that French boys smoke all the time. It makes them look sexy and naive at the same time.
Ed: Hmm. Whats your least favorite country to slut around in?
Ed: Really? Me too!
Owen: The guys there are kind of cheesy and glassy-eyed. The girls too.
Ed: The girls all remind me of Posh Spice.
Owen: Yeah! I think all English girls are, maybe, kind of down-trodden. England seems really misogynist to methe music scene and the art scene. Girls arent allowed to do anything without a man holding her hand. Whens the last time you saw an English band with a really conspicuous female frontwoman?
Ed: The Pipettes!
Owen: Theyre new, arent they? I havent heard them but I like their style.
Ed: Theyre totally popular. But I dont know if they actually write their own songs.
Owen: The Long Blondes are the only band from England I know who are popular and have girls writing their songs. And Lily Allen, I guess, too, but I havent listened to her. Other than that, its all like, Pussycat Dolls. And I think one of the dudes from OMD writes all their songs. Anyway, they dont seem to get behind the girls in England in their music or art scenes and I think it fucks the whole English female population up. It makes them non-intellectual or something.
Ed: Yeah, everyone just seems kind of drunk and aggressive to me there.
Owen: Its a real soccer culture there.
Ed: I feel more threatened by drunk English hooligans than I do in, like, rural Appalachia here! [Laughs] That says a lot! Thats what their festivals are like, too. Its all about getting wasted and barely checking the music out. And its competitive, too, theyre blaring crazy bass while youre trying to listen to a singer-songwriter. Its so random to me!
Owen: I know, its crazy.
Ed: And everybodys just like, [Ed makes puking sounds] Whoa, this is
awesome. [More puking] OK. We should stop trashing England now.
Owen: OK. Well scale it down in the editing, right?
Ed: Well just allude to it, I think.
Owen: Well, were both English. Arent you English?
Ed: Scottish. And I love Scotland.
Owen: I love Scotland too. And Ireland.
Ed: I havent been to Ireland.
Owen: Youre going to have so much fun in Ireland. There are really hot boys there.
Ed: Really? Redheads?
Owen: Yes. And better than the redheads are boys with dark hair, pale skin, and really blue eyes. And freckles. Not hairy. Your tour manager is going to freak out.
Ed: Yeah, Simons gonna go crazy. And there are a lot of them?
Owen: Yup. Everywhere.
Ed: Wow. Cant wait.
Owen: So, in your music, youre always talking about penetration. You have a lot of references to objects of insertion and being debased.
Ed: [Laughs] Like what?
Owen: You always are making yourself the object, not the subject. And sometimes explicitly.
Ed: Maybe more on the first album.
Owen: No, Yellow House too. Like Knife?
Ed: Oh. [Dubiously] Like the knife is a dick?
Ed: No, Knife is about backstabbing. Cheating. I dont promote cheating.
Owen: So, you cheating on Chad or Chad cheating on you?
Ed: Well, it hasnt happened. But that song is about stringing someone along and cheating on them. Maybe Im just singing about someone whos done that to me. I dont even know.
Owen: I actually have sympathy for backstabbers. I think its like M. Night Shyamalan.... ghosts dont realize theyre dead. Cheaters and shitheads, too, dont even realize what they do.
Ed: Am I a backstabber? Is that what youre getting at?
Owen: Umm no. I dont think youre a backstabbing asshole.
Ed: Oh, thanks! Thanks, Owen. Thats the nicest thing anyones ever said to me. I love how it took you a couple of seconds to think about it, too.
Owen: I just wanted to give you an honest answer.
Ed: Well, where else am I the object of penetration? Youre just saying that because you know Im a bottom.
Owen: Maybe! But it was also in Fix It where you sing, Come again all over me, I swear Ill change just wait and see...
Ed: Thats true.
Owen: Do you think that having somebody come on you is telling of your sexual preference? Like, whether youre a top or a bottom?
Ed: I dont know. Maybe, but Im sure there are tops out there who like getting come on. But were getting into graphic stuff and I dont know if this magazine is into that.
Owen: Well, this might just be the most popular interview they ever print.
Ed: You might not portray yourself as the object of penetration, but you kill yourself at the end of every album. Discuss.
Owen: Im trying to make light of the suicidal artist. I think that so many people take their rock bands so seriously, and we need more humorous musicians who are willing to dick around. I like it when artists dont try and make the classic album that saved rock and roll and instead are like, Dude, this album is about Oregon. Instead of trying to make dollar bills, theyre making little pieces of shit.
Ed: But how can you work so hard on something, pour your life into it, and then call it shit? Arent you being self-deprecating again?
Owen: No. I separate the art from the artist. My shitty music doesnt make me a shitty musician.
Ed: So when people pan your album you totally agree with them?
Owen: Yes! And when people love my music I think theres something wrong with them. I dont like it when artist and art become intertwined. It feels forced to me. I get sickened when people fall in love with the idea of the musician but the music is bullshit.
Ed: Like the image of the artist? The whole persona?
Owen: Yes. The age thing, too, when people get excited about teenagers in bands. I was unbelievably happy to hear the Arctic Monkeys and then to really enjoy them. I wouldve been pretty annoyed if they were crap.
Ed: Im not with you on that one.
Owen: Whatever. Anyway, do we have a message we want to give to all the mainstream homos who read the most popular homo magazine in the U.S.?
Ed: We can tell them that they missed out on the best tour ever when you and I were playing with Wyrd Visions. Maybe well do a reunion show some day. It was a sweet tour and Im so jealous that you get to travel with your boyfriend. I dont have that luxury and it makes me mad.
Owen: OK. Im sorry. Well, there are definite pros and cons to that arrangement.
Ed: Its true, traveling can be stressful and you probably fight all the time.
Owen: At first it was kind of weird but we eventually locked into it. We definitely dont have as much sex when were on tour. Were usually sleeping on peoples couches.
Ed: Case in point, right here in New York.
Owen: For sure. And we are definitely not having sex on your couch, nope. On top of that, it took some time to get used to being coworkers. But its good. When I was on tour without him there were a lot of tearful and expensive phone callsand so much jealousy. When Id return, it would take three days of arguing before we could convince each other that we hadnt cheated. Whats it like when you get off tour with Chad?
Ed: It always takes us a little time to get used to being back together. We get into these modes where were independent. Then its like, Hey, Im moving back in. Its exciting. Hes coming to visit us in Italy for five days this fall. It would be great if he could come on tour but its so exhausting. Hed probably quit and say, Fuck this shit, Im going to watch NetFlix at home. Plus, our poor dog would die.
Owen: So, getting back on track... do you watch pornos?
Ed: [Laughs.] I watch some. Usually online, I dont feel the need to own them, usually. I always like to see something new and different.
Owen: There are two types of people who watch pornos, you know: the voyeurs and the collectors. Voyeurs are just looking to get off, theyre the kind who just type cock into their Google. The collectors are the ones who are interested in porno as an art form. Theyre always snapping up the William Higgins reels off eBay.
Ed: Well, my friend works on an online porn site that has shitloads of videos and he just gave me a free membership. I just go to that one site when I feel like it, which isnt even that often. There was one time that I chanced upon a video there I loved so much that I had to own it, so I bought it. Thats it. I have one porn. Its in there if you want to watch it.
Owen: No, its OK. But what are your tastes?
Ed: It was an early 80s, scruffy hair sort of thing. Preppy boys. It was hot. Its got the most attractive actors Ive seen in a porn. Nary a leather face in sight.
Owen: I dont have the patience to track that kind of stuff down. I usually just get off on free video previews and erotic stories.
Ed: I always do live streaming but then skip to minute 10. Then Im like, done.
Owen: OK, last question. What would provide you with the most satisfaction in the next few years, both on a professional level and a personal level?
Ed: Its kind of the same answer for both. I hope people dont get sick of the music I make and I hope my boyfriend doesnt get sick of me.
Owen: So youre looking for longevity.
Owen: So your goal with Grizzly Bear is to have 20 albums out and people are still listening to you?
Ed: No, maybe four. Four that people will come back to. What about you?
Owen: I hope to have a 30-CD box set by the time Im 50. Just a lot of records.
Ed: Some are poop, some are not, right?
Ed: You want all poop?
Owen: Yes. All poop.
Ed: One giant 30-disc poop set.
Owen: Yes. And I want it to be layered, like a lasagna.
Ed: Like a poopy Dantes Inferno.Owen: Exactly. I wish you could designate the relative importance of each album with the size of the font on the cover art. So theres a listening order. You have an 84-point classic album that everybody should listen to, and then you move down into these specialized extrapolations that are more obscure and difficult. With titles in a 4-point font. Tori Amos could do something like that.
Ed: Huh. You should talk about it with her. You should collaborate with her!
Owen: Tori Amos? I would collaborate with her in her 1996 self, for sure. A friend of mine had a... nasty theory that Tori Amos, PJ Harvey, and Bjrk all got brainwashed in 1996, and became inferior, robotic versions of their former selves. I pointed out that in 1996, all three singers appeared on the cover of Q magazine for the Women of Rock issue. He theorized that maybe the Q magazine photographer was a catalyst in a massive misogynist plot.
Ed: Thats not funny, thats mean. And I still love Bjrk.
Owen: And I still love PJ Harvey and Tori Amos. I said it was a nasty theory.
Ed: Bjrk, call me! PJ, you can call me too, if you want.
Owen: Yeah? What about Tori?
Ed: Tori... we can instant message.