‘Colours’ By GROUPLOVE.
You turn on the news these days and it’s like a montage from one of those Apocalyptic Hollywood movies, possibly starring Bruce Willis, or if you’re really unlucky, Jason Statham. It can be quite overwhelming and sometimes you just need to escape, pull the switch inside your head and ‘turn on, tune in and drop out’ as they say. And that my friends is where music comes in, for the very best music can transport you far from your reality and in doing so grant you temporary respite from your woes. You’d certainly do well to find better companions than L.A. quintet GROUPLOVE to accompany you on your quest to leave behind all that makes you unhappy as you seek out that which brings you joy.
GROUPLOVE’S beginnings may read rather like a John Cusack/Kate Beckinsale rom-com, featuring a serendipitous meeting in New York, a fusing of kindred spirits in Greece and the forging of the sort of friendships that happen but once in a life time. When Hannah Hooper met Christian Zucconi , quite by chance in Manhattan, they formed such a bond that within days of knowing each other Hannah had invited Christian to join her at an art residency held on the island of Crete. “Seriously, we had only known one another for a few days but are both so inspired and alive when we are together that going to Greece seemed like a magical and natural thing to do” recalls Christian. Now going abroad or on holiday together can test the strongest of friendships, a time when you can suddenly discover your lifelong friend has the most irritating habits, but thankfully the experience was something Hannah and Christian both describe as ‘the time of our lives.’
Sickening isn’t it? The last time I went to Greece, my life was made a complete misery by two flatulent, racist, rugby playing dullards from Cardiff, housed in the apartment next door. If that wasn’t enough, I then suffered from buttock clenching food poisoning and as a result had to mainline Imodium for a week and walk with the gait of Charlie Chaplin! Not so for Hannah and Christian, for it was at this artistic retreat they met their future band mates and as a result would go on to form “GROUPLOVE.” Sean Gadd, a songwriter and guitar player, from London, Andrew Wessen, a pro surfer and musician from Los Angeles and his childhood friend Ryan Rabin, an accomplished drummer and producer were all at the same residency. The quintet became firm friends, and pretty soon they were writing and performing songs together. As their time in Crete came to an end they all vowed that when they returned to their respective homes, scattered across state lines and continents they had to somehow take forward what they’d created in Greece. “We all understood how rare it is for five strangers to feel as close as family and create passionate music together. We couldn’t just return to Brooklyn and let the music we all made fade into a memory of that summer we had in Greece,” explains Zucconi. Everyone pulled their funds together and Sean, Christian and Hannah made their way to Ryan Rabin’s studio in LA to record their album.
The resulting music perfectly captures the sun kissed, care-free atmosphere of their life changing Greek residency. Imagine the off kilter rush of early MGMT, coupled with the sort of idealistic exuberance that in other people’s hands could be a tad annoying but which instead leaves you feeling energised, thinking that anything is possible, that no obstacle is insurmountable. In short it leaves you feeling better about the world. In fact listening to the EP reminded me that the last time I’d smiled this much was when I’d pictured David Cameron falling down an uncovered man-hole, breaking both his legs and not being found for days (nobody really noticed he was missing you see.)
GROUPLOVE’S debut EP features six songs with more hooks than a pirate themed family get together organised by Joy Division’s former bassist. ‘Colours’ for example is a glorious bouncy aural sugar rush of a song, celebrating the joy of life and love. ‘Naked Kids’ finds Eels and Weezer surfing on waves of euphoria, whilst stand out track ‘Don’t Say Oh Well’ sounds a little like Bob Mould on happy pills and when Zucconi sings ‘I told my band mates they are my soul mates‘ you believe every word. Apparently their gigs are a similarly giddy affair, I hear reports that their sold out UK shows featured hordes of hot, sweaty people dancing, singing and climbing all over tables and speakers!
Could we discover the secret of their happiness ? Their lust for life ? Their ‘joie de vivre?‘ We tried to find out what makes them tick via guitarist Andrew, who answered a few of our questions in the midst of the bands European tour.
VP: Did Hannah and Christian ever look back and think, this might be a bit of a risk, jetting off to Greece after knowing each other only a few days ?
ANDREW : Well, I think if you spend even a few moments with Hannah and Christian you will see that there indescribable connection between then. There’s a deep respect for each other’s originality, imagination and inventiveness. They are different people, but truly compatible.
VP: Whilst you were all in Greece all the future members of Grouplove met up, again was this an immediate thing whereby you all just hit it off straight away?
ANDREW : There were so many interesting characters at the art residency but we seemed to instantly gravitate towards each other. I think we all were interested in each other’s differences, as well as each other’s creativity. It became apparent quite early on that there was a special kinship forming. Obviously, none of us knew what it would evolve into later on.
VP: So how did the band evolve and how did you go about recording your mini album, given some of you were scattered as far and wide as Brooklyn , LA and London ?
ANDREW : We had all kept in touch, phoning and emailing each other in the time after Greece . A year or so after the Greece trip Sean made his way to New York to visit Hannah and Christian and they called me and asked me if they could all come stay with Ryan and I out in Los Angeles. Of course we over the moon about it so before we knew it the group was back together. After a few days of reacquainting with the usual bars and restaurants, Ryan thought it would be fun for us to go record a song for fun. Well, one song turned in to two and so on. Next thing you know there was a mini album recorded. We still weren’t a band at this point in the true sense; we were simply friends who were having a great time recording each other’s songs. Everyone soon returned back to their respective homes and it wasn’t until our managers heard the songs that they said “Wow! There’s something here.” They put Colours on the Neon Gold blog and the soon we were getting a bit of buzz for the song, so much so that we decided we had a good enough thing going for everyone to pack up and move to LA permanently. We booked a show at a funny little venue in LA and the crowd response was incredible. We thought “This is amazing.” I guess we haven’t looked back since.
VP: How does the song writing process work in the band?
ANDREW : There’s no one way a song is written in the band. This is especially true considering every member of the band is a songwriter. Some songs are brought from someone’s past, others are songs created from acoustic or practice jams. On the album due to come out this summer, we have four different lead vocalists. It really is a “group”. Even Ryan (drummer/producer) is an incredible songwriter. He’s actually the most brilliant harmonizer in the group as well. I keep trying to get him to sing live but he won’t give in!
VP: What sort of things have had a major influence on the sound you produce as a band?
ANDREW : Obviously, everyone in the group has been influenced by their life’s experiences and the various bands that have shaped their musical taste. Everyone in the band would give a different response to this. I think that what’s apparent is that there is a true mixing of personalities and styles that can only come naturally when people from such different backgrounds create something together. I feel that this is reflected in the music.
VP: What are your plans for 2011? Gigs? Festivals? Fun?
ANDREW : We are midway through our first UK/European tour right now and it’s really been incredible. To be so far away from home and to have kids singing along is really fulfilling. To even be here with this group… I sometimes just have to laugh at how funny life can be sometimes. When we get home we have a week or two off and then we have a number of dates at SXSW, which I am really excited about. From SXSW we go directly into a month long co-headline tour with Foster the People across the country. Our album will come out sometime this summer and we hope to be playing festivals if the opportunities present themselves. Its going to be a busy year, but this type of life is what you want when you are in a band, right? We couldn’t be happier with what’s happening right now.
VP: What have been your most memorable musical moments thus far?
ANDREW Hmm… I guess it depends who you ask. Sounds corny but there has been something magical about every show (save one or two haha). Our first run of shows in LA were so thrilling and to have so many people turn out… that was really an exciting time. Then we did our first touring together with Phosphorescent, Two Door Cinema Club, and our labelmates The Joy Formidable. I guess for me the most memorable musical moment was opening for Florence + The Machine for four nights in San Francisco and Los Angeles . For me, its not just they were our biggest shows but I had driven by the Wiltern theater every day for years and had always wanted to play there. I really never thought I would have the opportunity and so that was really special for me. I sat with my dad on the balcony one night and we watched Florence together. He was mesmerized by her.
VP: ‘Colours’ is a pretty amazing video; who came up with the concept? Where was it shot and without giving too much away for those who are yet to see it, what was the basic premise?
ANDREW: Our good friend Jordan Bahat approached us about making the video. He had a vision for an adaptation of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge ” by Ambrose Bierce. Jordan and the band raised the money ourselves, with many amazing people working for free. It was shot over two day period mostly in an area outside of Calabasas , CA . I feel like saying anything about it gives too much way. I guess its as simple as a YouTube click way if anyone is interested.
VP: When you’re not writing and performing music, what other passions do you have?
ANDREW: I’ve been a beach kid my whole life. I’m quite an aquatic being actually haha. No, but I love to be at the beach when I can. Friends, family, music. Those are my passions.
VP: A five word GROUPLOVEe motto would be…..?
ANDREW: Never trust a happy song.
‘Colours’ By GROUPLOVE