Breaking Out: Grouplove
West Coast quintet form after frolicking at a far-flung artist colony
After you learn about Grouplove, find out how SPIN gave the band poison oak at this very photo shoot!.
Don’t get the wrong idea about Grouplove: The Los Angeles band’s live shows may be exuberant and their songs, particularly the pro-skinny-dipping single “Naked Kids,” might be fit for the beach, but they are not a bunch of hand-clapping Pollyannas. “We dance and move and scream and sing in a day when people are often sitting and typing,” says singer-keyboardist Hannah Hooper. “We’re alive, and people might be confusing that for being happy.”
But while their poppy sound has a Pixies-ish edge (mutilationwave?), they admit their story is straight saccharine: In August 2009, Hooper, then a painter eking out a living in New York, met frontman Christian Zucconi, a struggling musician/bartender. Just two days after bonding over their mutual frustration with the city, a friend offered Hooper a residency at an artist colony in Crete. “I was like, ‘I just fell in love with this guy,'” recalls Hooper. ” ‘Can I bring him?’ ”
While the ten-week trip was far from luxurious — the couple slept on a twin bed in a hallway and bathed in the sea — it led them to like-minded expats and future band members Andrew Wessen (guitarist), Ryan Rabin (drummer and son of Yes guitarist Trevor), and Londoner Sean Gadd (bassist). “We were all at a weird crossroads in our life,” says Zucconi, who refers to his cohorts as “soulmates” in the lyrics to “Don’t Say Oh Well.” “We got to know each other with a clean slate.” By April of last year, the band had relocated to the home of the elder Rabin, whose worn white ax Zucconi plays at every show. There, in Ryan’s home studio, they recorded their eponymous EP.
After Grouplove landed a deal with Atlantic and spots at Lollapalooza and U.K.’s Reading Festival, Zucconi took to writing the band’s debut full-length, a kinetic mix of genial harmonies and rapturous choruses titled Never Trust a Happy Song (Canvasback/Atlantic) — though you’re not likely to catch the band members heeding this advice during their current headlining tour. “We’re fortunate enough to play a lot of packed shows alongside people we never expected to be doing this with,” explains Zucconi. “We can’t help but smile.”
Video by the NY Frequency