Indie rock ensemble Grouplove will be performing tonight at Emo’s alongside The Belle Brigade.
Grouplove, who have made an impression on both critics and fans alike, shine with poppy, melodic sounds. Some songs are perfect for a getaway on the beach while others roar with thunderous drums and hauntingly beautiful harmonies from vocalists Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper. Taking the time out of their busy schedule, Hooper and drummer Ryan Rabin spoke with me about the band’s beginnings, music festivals and a future collaboration with Jay-Z.
Eli Watson: Your debut album Never Trust a Happy Song was released in September and the reception has been very positive. How has it been for you guys seeing how well the album has been received?
Ryan Rabin: It's always very humbling to hear that people are enjoying the music we make as much as we enjoy making it and playing it.
You all met each other in Crete in an artist residency, and soon after that you became a band. When did you first know/realize that you guys wanted to make a band with one another?
RR: We didn't think of Grouplove as a band until we finished the first EP. We made that mini album when the rest of the guys/girls were visiting Andrew and me in LA. Only once It was done and everybody went back home did we realize it was really something special, and we didn't want it to go to waste.
Did the experience of living in Crete for that period of time have any influence on how you all write music? Are some of the lyrics inspired by those experiences?
RR: "Don't Say Oh Well" is specifically about that experience. Several of the songs were first heard by all of us in Crete, either as early ideas or older songs from someone’s past that we eventually realized fully in the making of the EP a year later.
It's more like one crazy experience: Doing three to five shows a day, running around the hot ass crowded streets with a bunch of gear was exhausting. It's like a triathlon for bands and definitely a testing experience. We're not complaining though, we're very lucky to be a part of something as unique as SXSW, and we hope we can do it every year.
You guys did various festivals this past year. Which one was your favorite, and were there any bands that you had the opportunity to see/meet?
RR: We loved Splendour in the Grass. It was [one] of our first times in Australia, and [there’s] a very cool vibe down there. One festival we played in Portugal called Optimus Alive was pretty spectacular. We were lucky enough to play the main stage directly before Blondie and Coldplay, both of which we watched.
Ryan, I found it interesting that your family have roots being from South Africa. As a drummer, how has that influenced your choices in rhythmic pattern and technique, and what were some of the groups that you listened to from there?
RR: I grew up listening to a lot of the bigger vocal groups: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Soweto Gospel Choir, etc. I'm sure there are some built-in influences in my playing, but for the most part I just love listening to it. I saw the Soweto Gospel Choir live once and it was one of the most incredible shows I've ever been to.
Hannah, you are a very talented artist, and I noticed how most of your paintings encompass themes of the ocean or the beach. Is it the idea of abstraction that leans you towards those themes, or is it just a personal preference, and how did you get your artwork on The Morning Bender's Big Echo?
Hannah Hooper: Water is my jam. I was drawn to the natural abstraction that takes shape when someone is swimming, and the endless personality the ocean, a river, a lake and even a rain storm offer. The Morning Benders are old friends from San Francisco. I grew up there, and they lived and played there for years. Once Big Echo had been recorded, Chris called me up hoping he could use a painting of mine for the cover of his album, and that’s just what friends do for one another.
Los Angeles has an eclectic scene of artists and has risen back in prominence due to rock acts Local Natives, Best Coast and yourselves, and hip hop alternative acts like Odd Future. How does it feel contributing to LA's always-growing indie rock scene and the music scene in general?
RR: It's amazing. It was not a conscious decision to be an "LA band," as we are from all over the place. But it was definitely great timing for us as far as being a part of that great music community and scene in LA. Everyone is very supportive of one another.
You guys did SXSW this year; Any crazy stories or awesome experiences you would like to share?
RR: It's more like one crazy experience: Doing three to five shows a day, running around the hot ass crowded streets with a bunch of gear was exhausting. It's like a triathlon for bands and definitely a testing experience. We're not complaining though, we're very lucky to be a part of something as unique as SXSW, and we hope we can do it every year.
Is there anything planned for the future that you can tell us about? Any possible collaborations or new music in the works?
RR: The Jay-Z collaboration is always in the works, just a matter of figuring out the right time for both of us. There is always new music in the works, as we're always writing either separately or together. For now, we're fully focused on supporting Never Trust a Happy Song, and we want as many people as possible to experience the album the way we do.