Members of the band, from left: Ed Droste, Chris Bear, Chris Taylor and Daniel Rossen
Ed Droste—front man of the Brooklyn-based indie-rock band Grizzly Bear, whose long-awaited fourth album Shields comes out on September 18—reflects on some of his favorite destinations and findings from around the world.
Q: It’s been three years since the band’s last album, what can we expect from Shields?
A: It’s charged, and sort of raw, energetic and exposed. I started out work shopping ideas in Todos Santos, Mexico with our drummer Chris Bear. We often go on little writing retreats together. We went there for a month and wrote ten songs, then the whole band reconvened in Marfa, Texas for a month to start recording.
Q: Did you do any traveling during your hiatus?
A: I love traveling, I’ll go anywhere once. It’s my number one passion after music. Other people sort of nested during their time off between albums, and I was just constantly looking for travel adventures.
Q: You’ve been almost everywhere, where do you like to go in your free time?
A: Probably Japan and Mexico. Both countries have a variety of terrain and environments to check out, as well as insanely delicious food. On my last trip to Japan, I was exploring the area around Kyoto. We stayed at Hiiragiya Bekkan, which is one of the oldest ryokans there. It was insanely cool; so atmospheric and cozy.
Q: What is it about Mexico that keeps you coming back?
A: I’ve had great experiences going to different areas of Mexico, whether it was Baja, or the west coast, the Caribbean coast, or the mountains around San Miguel de Allende. I find it intimately relaxing and mellow there. Mexicans are really friendly on the whole, and gracious and welcoming. That’s the difference between Mexico and Japan. I think it’s a little harder to crack the language and culture barriers as an outsider in Japan, whereas I've always felt really welcome in Mexico.
Q: You’re also a fearless foodie. Any memorable meals?
A: On our honeymoon, my husband and I went to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand for six weeks. It was seriously one of the best trips I've ever taken. We had guides for certain areas driving between Hanoi and Halong Bay in Vietnam, and it was really hard to convince them we didn’t want touristy western food because they were worried about us getting sick. Finally they relented, and we had one of the most amazing meals: we picked a fish from a tank and they fried it up with herbs on the side of the road. Then we had this crazy frog stew that was so good! Every moment of it was delicious, it was exploding with flavor.
Q: Frog stew? That’s pretty bold.
A: Part of my favorite thing about travel is the food, so we got really deep into street food on this trip. We ate everything: we snacked on slugs, we ate crickets and bamboo grubbs—we tried it all. We were serious eaters in that department. I'm not saying I enjoyed every crunchy bug I ate, but I gave it a whirl.
Marguerite A. Suozzi is an associate research editor at Travel + Leisure.