Before setting off on his first solo tour, Grizzly Bear singer-guitarist Daniel Rossen decided to adopt a laid-back attitude. “It’s nice to keep it casual and not worry too much,” says Rossen, who recently wrapped 16 months of touring in support of Grizzly Bear’s fourth album, “Shields.”
With no album to promote on the solo tour, Rossen’s only plan was to ditch the Grizzly Bear songs in favor of music from his 2012 solo EP “Silent Hour/Golden Mile,” cuts from his long-dormant other band, Department of Eagles, covers and maybe even some brand-new tunes. “A Grizzly Bear song gets played hundreds and hundreds of times and these are ones that I’ve never played for people,” Rossen says.
You posted a photo on Facebook of you rehearsing in Topanga Canyon, Calif., on what looks like a roof.
Basically, there’s a room attached to it, heightening the Topanga affect. My girlfriend and I got rid of our apartment in Brooklyn, [N.Y.,] in the fall, so we’ve been living upstate [in New York and traveling]. I grew up in Los Angeles and I feel much more comfortable on the East Coast now. I’m a stalwart New Yorker now.
Is your girlfriend going on tour with you?
Yeah. It’s just going to be her and I rolling across the country, which I think will be pretty fun. I planned this tour so we would have a lot of time between the shows to make it a road trip, not the slog of touring.
Is that something you can’t do on Grizzly Bear tours?
You can’t do that when you have a bunch of guys and a sound person and a lighting person — you don’t have that kind of freedom. But since I have no overhead whatsoever I’ll just show up with a guitar and we’ll do the show and then we’ll hang out.
Is that what led you to this tour?
Grizzly Bear was on the road for over a year touring the last record. We got done last fall and I was getting antsy to plan something new to do. I thought since I never performed alone, it would be a worthy challenge to see if I could do it.
Didn’t your solo EP come about during a break from Grizzly Bear?
The EP was part of the process of writing a new Grizzly Bear record for me. Really, it was part of the same set of songs in a way. The ones that ended up working for the EP were definitely different from what worked for Grizzly Bear. I feel like they’re more self-contained songs. And they do seem to work well in the setting of just performing alone.
Are you avoiding Grizzly Bear songs on this tour?
I think it makes more sense to just play the other material because it’s had such little exposure. And I’ve never played the EP songs live. The Department of Eagles songs, we did nine shows in 2008-09 and that was it. It makes more sense to focus on all the tunes that never got played. And it feels good for me, too. It’s fresh, in a strange way.
You were just in D.C. in January as part of the Gene Clark “No Other” tribute tour. What was that like?
It was like listening to your favorite record and getting to sing along to it at the same time. It was pure joy.
What’s the status of Grizzly Bear in 2014?
We don’t have a clear plan. We tend to like to let the records come together naturally. I think everyone wants a little bit of a break and everyone’s scattered around the globe. I think towards the end of the year, if it feels natural, we’ll start again.
Do you plan to release any more solo music soon?
I might work towards doing my own record, a full-length thing, but it’s hard to say. If anything, that’s on the docket next for me.
I guess it depends how well any new songs work on this tour.
Whether I like them enough — whether I want to go for it or not fully on my own. But we’ll see. It’s nice to not really have a clear plan right now.
Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW; Sun., 8 p.m., $25-$27.50; 202-408-3100. (Gallery Place)