Having a band name is both an interesting and important thing that many bands tend to not really think over until it’s too late, especially considering what the name will eventually represent. Bands like Arctic Monkeys, Blink-182, Bombay Bicycle Club, and many more have expressed dismay towards their monikers but if there is one band who will probably never feel that way it’s Grouplove. The band’s name has become a representation of fun, passion, and exuberance; features that resonate not only from the band’s name but also with their live shows and just about everything that they do. They’ve just released their first single, “Ways To Go,” from their upcoming second album Spreading Rumors (out September 17) and band members: Christian Zucconi (vocals, guitar), Hannah Hooper (vocals, keys), Sean Gadd (bass, vocals), Andrew Wessen (guitar, vocals), and Ryan Rabin (drums) were very kind to sit down with me at Atlantic Records headquarters to share details about the album for the first time ever.
You guys have played a lot of shows in support of the first album, was it difficult going back into the studio?
Ryan: It was very exciting getting the chance to go back actually.
Andrew: Especially because we had a lot of momentum. And we were a tight unit at that point; we were a very well oiled machine. I think taking time off before going back into the studio would have been temperamental, hahaha we’ve still never had time off actually hahaha.
Hannah: That was quite a good use of vocabulary.
Andrew: I like to drink coffee and take myself sound serious you know.
Ryan: Like an expresso
Christian: Espresso you mean haha.
Andrew: There’s no x in expresso?…fuck haha I’ve been saying it wrong my whole life.
What did you guys want to say and do differently with this record?
Christian: We became such a good live band that we really wanted to capture that on the album so we tracked mostly everything live rather than doing it all electronically.
Ryan: Yeah, the first album we did while we were in my apartment and we really didn’t even have the ability to record everything in the same room together. Everything was in this tiny space and had to be over-dubbed, we had to rehearse a lot to make sure that when we recorded everything would be right. This time around we got to play it all together at once and in a way got to prove ourselves as musicians.
Hannah: It was like whoa…we got good!
Andrew: Recording live really is the best way to do it if you can, the best way. If you can capture that energy and that spark then that’s great. We loved it especially because if we had a collection of takes there’d always be a moment where we’d be listening back to them and looking at each other like ‘aw shit! You got it!’ There really is a bit of magic that comes with being in a room together like that.
Hannah: We’d whisper to each other ‘that was very good!’
Sean: It’s usually somewhere between the third to eight take that we end up liking the best.
Hannah: Or the eighty fourth take!
Sean: It also helped that every time we came back to a city we ended up playing a place bigger than the last, so it felt like we’ve payed our dues and we wanted that to come across on the album as we played the songs live together.
Hannah: Also we lived in New York for a while so being able to play a place like Mercury Lounge when we did was such a big deal to me. I remember back then thinking as though a notch was going up. Mercury has horrible sound but it’s a place to pay your dues for sure haha.
Do you feel the bond you guys have built as a band made it onto the recording of this new album and how so?
Christian: Definitely. This record is much more collaborative then the last.
Hannah: We got a lot closer.
Christian: We lived together while we recorded it as well.
Ryan: Most of the songs from the first record were ideas that were already finished or on the brink of being finished before we recorded them and they all mostly came from one individual; on this one we were touring for so long and together for so long that whenever ideas were written for the album it was usually someone going to someone else and working on it together as opposed to doing it all internally. The actual writing was done around each other from an earlier point than ever before.
Who produced the record and what made you want to work with them?
Hannah: I did! Hahaha
Andrew: The biggest asshole of all time.
Hannah: Ryan tries to say he does a lot but yeah he produced it. He produced the last record as well.
Ryan: Yeah I’ve produced everything since we started, even before we were really a band we already knew that everything we did would be in house. During the making of our first EP I produced everything and Hannah did all the artwork. The EP was made in my parent’s garage and our first album in my apartment and it all just stuck really, us doing things in house, kind of like a theme. We don’t really know anything different.
Andrew: That’s why on this record you’ll be hearing a lot of drum soloing hahaha
Christian: Ugh, so loud.
Ryan: I gotta push the agenda.
Christian: There actually is one drum solo on the record but he’s not even in it.
Ryan: Yes I am!
Christian: Oh right you are! It’s all of us together doing a bit of a tribal drum together.
Hannah: It’s like swing dancing.
What were some of the new things you guys tried in the studio that you’ve never tried before?
Andrew: Hahaha what?
Hannah: Apart of recording live I don’t think we really tried anything that different or out there. We didn’t go out of our way to try wacky sounds and stuff. It was always that the songs came out naturally and better. We recorded at a pretty dope Motown House at the Hollywood Hills. I want to say that I got possessed by Michael Jackson while we were there.
Christian: There was some weird ass energy there.
Hannah: Michael Jackson stayed there once he was younger so it is possible that he went back.
Christian: The Beatles stayed there years back too; I think it was the first time some of them tried doing acid also. That place had loads of energy.
Would you say that the album has a theme and if so what is it?
Christian: Some of the songs relate to each other but it wasn’t done on purpose.
Hannah: They’re actually two songs that kind of form a story with one another.
Christian: Yeah, kind of like a love story that binds the album together in a way. School Boy is one of the songs and is about young love that doesn’t work out.
Hannah: It’s kind of about first love specifically and having massive expectations of what to want from it. Like thinking it’ll be forever when really it won’t be. That song specifically deals with the boy’s perspective and then there’s ‘Didn’t Have To Go’ which is about a girl waking up without the boy there. It’s about being left but from a different perspective.
What made you guys choose “Ways To Go” to be the first single from the record?
Andrew: We were going to go with another track but Hannah felt very strong about “Ways To Go.” It felt very right after a while.
Christian: We kept going back to it and whenever we’d play people songs from the new record that one always stuck out. People responded to it best and it was the song that made people really excited. I think what Andrew was trying to say was that the song felt very right for the summer as well, kind of like to make people excited for it and we wanted to put that out there.
Hannah: It’s definitely a summer jam, and a dancing jam. I was laughing just now because I remember when we were trying to decide a single everyone had another single in mind…
Ryan: Not me! I’ve always been on your side.
Hannah: Yeah ok you say that now. I remember I came back from smoking and I became very dramatic and told them ‘guys if we don’t do “Ways To Go” as a single it’ll be the biggest mistake of our lives!’ and I just heard recently that the head of our label, Steve, who was there said that ‘Guys Hannah can be right sometimes so we’re going to do that.’ Hahaha. I had no idea that people actually listened to me.
Another thing is I think we have a lot of potential singles on this record. There’s a phrase our friends have been attaching to it, but I can’t remember what it is…
Christian: That it’s a hits for days records!
Hannah: Yeah! We have hits for day’s haha. Grouplove: Hits For Days!
Andrew: We recorded about twenty three songs for this album.
Hannah: Yeah. Actually the new song we played last night (Shark Attack) could probably be a single. When I was doing sound check on it I really did think ‘Oh yeah this is a hit!’
Will the tracks that didn’t make the album be released as b-sides eventually?
Ryan: Oh yeah totally, tracks like that always find their way out.
Hannah: Though we won’t call them b-sides, we’ll make them c-sides instead and release a c-side album haha. Possibly with an image of the sea!
Who came up with the video for “Ways To Go” and how did that come together and does the video have a message?
Hannah: Just peace man haha. Cameron Duddy directed the video and the guy who submitted the treatment for the video came up with the idea. We went through many many treatments.
Ryan: We liked his style the best and most importantly he made us laugh a lot while we were reading it. The funny thing is we noticed how much work people put into treatments while doing this process, like all these beautiful images and great PDFs but his was actually the most ghettoest of all the treatments we got hahaha.
Christian: Yeah it was literally this little sketch of a dictator in a Hawaiian shirt with really vague yet direct words all throughout.
Hannah: It all came across as hilarious.
Ryan: We wanted to make the video because the idea that came across was that these would be visuals with a story that’d keep you entertained all throughout, regardless of the music.
Hannah: With performances as well! We always want to be included in music videos. I think it’s really important that people see the band performing in videos and I really don’t care for videos that don’t show the band honestly.
Ryan: It’s important to see the bands personality in music videos. I hate it whenever there’s a video with outside actors and slow mo that tries to make it more like a movie then a music video. I feel the music can get lost with videos like that.
Do you feel the new songs will change the live show and was this something you guys thought about while recording the songs in the studio?
Ryan: Yes and no. We don’t limit ourselves when recording by what we can do live but we know when it comes to playing the songs our live show will change, in a way it’s already have. Like on the way we switch instruments on Ways To Go also has to happen live since that’s how we recorded.
Hannah: After we recorded all those songs for the album it was afterwards when I started to realize ‘oh yeah…we’re going to be playing these live…’ it makes you wonder what can work and what won’t work. We have a lot of songs that didn’t make the album, songs that were much slower and more emotional to a certain extent. They’re all great songs but we had to consider what we love doing on stage. When it comes to our live shows we want to get everyone amped up, to have everyone leave with a smile on their face as though they just went to one of the best house parties they ever been to.
It’s almost as though you could gauge friends that way, like if you were to bring a friend to a Grouplove show and they didn’t leave with a smile you could be sure that that friend wasn’t a good friend hahaha.
Grouplove Site: http://www.grouplovemusic.com/