By Emily Jackson
Grouplove refuses to attach themselves to a single genre. They don’t even like to attach themselves to a single continent. The transatlantic tale of their formation has become the stuff of legend. When Hannah Hooper met Christian Zucconi, it was love at first sight… or maybe love at first listen since they met at one of his shows. Almost immediately she asked him to accompany her on a trip to an artists’ commune in Greece. They spent one spectacular Grecian summer together making art and frolicking in the sand and surf. It’s there that they met the other musicians that would eventually make up Grouplove, Sean Gadd, Andrew Wessen and Ryan Rabin. We spoke to Christian about that legendary summer, the years of nomadic existence that followed and what surprises they have in store for The Stuffing crowd this year.
You all met at an artists’ commune in Crete in 2008. What was that like?
Christian: It was crazy. It was the farthest I’d ever travelled before. Hannah and I had just met and she invited me which was great because I was kind of in a slump. We were all in a slump at the time but while we were over there we really planted the seeds for the band. We just left all our baggage behind and had a really fun summer. It was really fun.
Did you think Hannah was crazy?
Christian: [laughs] Yeah, it’s possible I did but she was also the funniest person I’d ever met, like, the wittiest. She’s a painter and I’d seen her art before so she was also the most talented person I’d ever met. It was a no brainer when she asked me to go with her.
All of you were kind of solo artists before you met the rest of the band… Is that right?
Christian: Yeah, I was in a band called Aloke, A-L-O-K-E, but it just wasn’t happening with them. It was like we were hitting our heads against the wall. It was the same with the other guys in the band. They were in different bands but none of them were really taking off. Hannah was an artist before we met. She’d never done music before.
Your second album came out in September. How was making Spreading Rumors different from making the first album?
Christian: Before our first album, we made an EP as friends getting together. It was something we did spontaneously without trying really. It happened so fast and we were a really green band. We hadn’t even played live together before. Then to make the album, we just put everything together piece by piece. When we made the second album, we’d just finished up three years of touring which made us super tight. The week after the tour was over we were all pretty much homeless and we were in L.A. We went to this house with a studio in it where we tried to capture all the energy of a live show in a recording. We did it quickly so it’s a lot more cohesive than the first album.
Your music doesn’t fit neatly into any one genre or category. What kind of music inspires you, personally or collectively?
Christian: Everyone has different influences. We each have different things that inspire us which is why we sound so distinct. For me personally, growing up in the early 90s, listening to my older brother and bands from the late 80s/early 90s… that’s what I try to capture in my writing. I love the passion, the honesty and the pain that was in music then. That’s what I go for when I write. I try to write emotionally. Bands like the Pixies, Nirvana, people like Bjork… I was really lucky to be exposed to that.
Grouplove was here this summer for Party in the Park. You had a ton of energy. Is there anything you do before a show to get ready and to get excited?
Christian: I remember that. That was a lot of fun. We don’t do anything crazy before a show. We try to be calm, chill out and save up our energy, then feed off energy from the fans. That’s the best kind of show, when the energy goes both ways. We can’t look bored or be tired because playing live is what we live for. It’s why we’re on the road. And we take a lot of 5-hour energy and vitamin B-12.
Planning any surprises for The Stuffing?
Christian: We are, yeah. We’re flying in from England the morning of the show. Our drummer has to stay so it’ll only be four of us there, not five. But we want to continue our tradition of switching things up for The Stuffing. Last year, Hannah went out and sang with some bands and Sean went out and did some songs solo. It’s a really respectful crowd so it’s a great platform for trying out different things. We plan on having Tim [Very] from Manchester Orchestra come out to play with us at some point. We don’t know exactly what will happen yet.
According to the poster, y’all are playing on electric night but you’re going acoustic. Why is that?
Christian: It’ll be a mix of both. Last year we went full acoustic, no drums. There was only three of us there. Sean came out on tambourine at one point. This year, we’re gonna start acoustic and get louder and louder. We want to add more sounds and build it up as we go.
Catch Christian and the rest of Grouplove (minus one) at The Stuffing, Wednesday, November 27. Tickets here.