LA based band, Grouplove, are the living testimony to the adage “timing is everything.” It all started as a chance encounter of five creative individuals in Greece, then it blossomed into a close friendship and band. Hannah Hooper (vocals, keys), Christian Zucconi (vocals, guitar), Sean Gadd (bass, vocals), Andrew Wessen (guitar, vocals), and Ryan Rabin (drums) each possess a gift that can be both seen and heard in the band’s live performance. This month, the band released their sophomore album, Spreading Rumours and kicked off their Seesaw Tour. “This record was so much more collaborative than the last one (Never Trust A Happy Song),” Christian said. “Ryan was writing melodies for verses. Andrew’s guitar lines became chorus melodies, Sean’s basslines are amazing on the record. Everyone believes in each other’s work and that’s what keeps us going.” We speak to Hannah and Christian about the concept behind their tour and their progression as musicians through Spreading Rumours.
Life + Times: I am really looking forward to the Seesaw Tour. One night will be electric based and the second night will be acoustic. How did you guys come up with the idea to do this?
Hannah Hooper: We’re so pumped for this tour. It was kind of, like, a collective decision to do this. We wanted to do something different for our fans and we were thinking, ‘What would we want to see our favorite bands do?’ There’s such little opportunity to see your fans faces and really be intimate with them and share both an acoustic and electric night in each city. You spend such little time in each city. So, that was really the premise of the tour.
Christian Zucconi: And also, it provides a challenge for us to do something different because you want to keep changing things up and never get comfortable doing one thing or do the same kind of tour, the same kind of production. So, it’s really fun to throw that curve ball at ourselves.
L+T: It’s really different. I was trying to think of bands that have done something like that and I definitely have to say you guys are the first…for me, at least. It kind of reminds me of MTV’s Unplugged. I don’t know if you remember that. The show featured a stripped down set of what the artists’ would usually perform. So, I think this concept is really cool.
CZ: Thanks! We’re really excited about it. In certain cities, we’re trying to see if we can bring our friends up on stage from other bands to see if they can join us for a song. We’re probably gonna have Andy Hull from Manchester Orchestra. I think he’s gonna join us on tour [and] people that we’ve met over the years on the road. So, hopefully we can bring up some friends and convince them to come up with us to do it.
HH: We’re trying to make it a music community – which is really important.
L+T: That will be awesome. I can’t wait! I noticed with Spreading Rumours and the debut album, Never Trust A Happy Song, there is a consistency – but both albums are a little different. For the sake of genres – since we’re in a society that’s focused on genre classifications – I noticed the last album was more folk and electronica. Whereas this album (Spreading Rumours), has a Nirvana ‘90s grunge sound coupled with modern garage rock. When you put this album together, what were some of the inspirations you put into it specifically.
CZ: I think the biggest inspiration was us being on the road for two and a half or three years supporting the first record. We became such a strong live act. The first record we didn’t really. We had ten shows under our belt when we recorded that, so we were a real kind of green unit playing together. We went on the road for three years and got really good at our live show. Our live show became the staple that everyone talks about. We wanted to bring that energy into the studio. So, we recorded everything live and we only took a week off after we finished touring…so that was the biggest inspiration in terms of filling the room and that garage kind of rock – we’re all in the same room, we’re doing this at the same time, we’re doing vocals live– so, that was a big part of it. I’m glad you can sense that from listening to the record.
HH: To add on that, during this three years that we spent on touring we experienced literally more than you would with a best friend. We are all really close but, the highs and lows – there’s nowhere to hide. So we all shared so much together and became such a close unit that by time we go to the studio we really had nothing that we needed to hold back. I remember personally on our last album, Never Trust A Happy Song, I’d be embarrassed a little bit to go there – to just show a certain vulnerability, sadness, or craziness. After all those shows and all we’ve been through, when we got in the studio we were like, ‘Let’s just do this. We have nothing left to reveal.’
CZ: You know like, ‘Let’s get crazy, let’s get loud!’ So, to incorporate the things that we started upon – some electronica stuff. We just didn’t want to do anything the same. We didn’t want to write the same kind of songs. I think we’re lucky that it organically came to be what it is now. We also wanted to record songs that would be really fun and energetic – to bring that same energy to a live stage. We have a lot of beautiful slow songs…but we still wanted to go crazy on stage and bring that energy that we’re known for.
L+T: Ok, touching on that last comment – and Hannah brought this out too – you all have been a band for so long. How are you able to keep that same excitement you had when you initially started and put it on this album and on the road?
HH: I think individually, we’re all creative artists. There’s something that exists when we’re together. It’s really honest. Thank god it’s not something that’s temporary and translucent. Its’ really lasted. We honestly recorded 26 songs and couldn’t believe it. The songwriting process together was so natural. It was really just pouring out of us and really reaffirmed that we are…I don’t know how we all met up in the first place – was it fate or whatever? There’s something that really works between us. It seems to be lasting.
CZ: Even sometimes you get down and you stand aside the grass is greener kind of thing. You get back in the room with everyone and it’s all so natural…It’s nice to be reminded of that. Making this record reaffirms that completely. We’re real lucky. We can’t really explain and it still surprises us to this day – how we met and everything. It’s crazy. You kind of just honor that and keep moving forward.
HH: It’s an interesting dynamic with us. With the songwriting, we went straight from a bus to into a house. So, there is this push and pull, like, as much as we love each other, we’re kind of stuck together too. This is what we’re doing. We don’t necessarily have a lot of friends and we never see our families. This is what we’re doing. There’s a lot of sacrifice that comes with such opportunity. I think that really propels the songwriting for this album too.
L+T: You all are very hands on with the songwriting. For the last album, all five of you guys all received songwriting credit. With you all having such contrasting personalities and strengths, how are you actually able to configure a song?
CZ: Well, we always believe in each other. Me and Hannah wrote a bunch of the songs on the record. We all trust one another. Our biggest influences are each other. So, me and Hannah – there’s a few songs that we did, like we did this song, “Shark Attack” and this song “Biting The Bullet.” Hannah and I kind of garage band ourselves and made demos. We’ll bring them in to the band and some they really respond to like, ‘Oh, this is great. Let’s work with this.’ And some are like, ‘You’re weird.’ Everyone supports each other and believes in each other’s abilities. [When] picking the songs for the album we all just democratically voted for them with our manager and some of our A&R guys. The ones that got the most votes we were like, ‘Let’s put these on the record.’ We bring really good material to the table.
HH: We don’t have a process or a method. I think that vibe that it’s an eclectic album, but it’s somehow a Grouplove sound and you feel it on the album. It’s genuinely us growing and not being afraid of changing – not being afraid of testing things. Just being like, ‘This is who we are today. I know who I was yesterday.’ I’m more interested in who I’m going to be today or tomorrow.