After two years of nonstop touring, Grouplove is back with its follow-up to 'Never Trust a Happy Song': the band's sophomore effort, 'Spreading Rumours,' is out September 17 (and streaming now on NPR). And a couple of weeks ago, Grouplove stopped by KROQ’s Red Bull Sound Space to perform tracks from the new album.
Following the show, we caught up with Hannah Hooper (vocals/keys), Andrew Wessen (vocals/guitar), and Sean Gadd (bass/vocals). They gave us the rundown on what we can expect from 'Spreading Rumors,' which tackles everything from bean-topped pizzas to the realization that getting things done sometimes involves forgoing the occasional hangover-inducing opportunity.
The show was really fun! I remember your first show in the Red Bull Sound Space: Christian (Zucconi, vocals/guitar) had blue hair then.
Hannah: I just changed his hair back to norms. It’s really funny because he had blonde hair last. He was like, “I want to go back to my natural color,” and so I dyed it brown and he looked like a porn star because it was one solid color brown, like a weird porn dude. So I went out and got like four different colors of brown and tried to make it look more natural. I like painted his head. That’s how we did the blue. When you saw the turquoise blue, it was like three or four different blues.
So you’re the visual artist in the band and the official hair dyer?
Hannah: It’s the same thing! It’s almost the same thing.
Andrew: She’s also like the semi-verbally abusive stylist for the band. You can quote me on that. She is like de facto stylist though. We’ll be like, “Hannah is this cool?” and she’ll be like, “This is kind of crazy.” But I know if I asked for her advice, I’m going to end up wearing something really fucking weird, kind of like borderline going too far.
Did you do any art for this album, Hannah?
Hannah: Yeah, Christian and I got really stoned and made all the artwork on this. We have an album release art show coming up, actually. Basically, all the artwork for the band is going to go in this gallery. We’re going to have mannequins wearing T-shirts. It’s going to be so dope. It’s kind of a collection of all the posters I made, and all the paintings and all the album covers.
We’re going to do a little live show and they are going to play our album. It’s not going to be a normal gallery opening. You’re going to go in and it’s going to be loud as shit. Open bar and it’s going to be really fun. It will be in Korea Town in LA. The private opening is on [September 15] and the closing secret show party is on the 19th.
You played a lot of new stuff tonight, which sounds really good. What can we expect from the new album?
Hannah: We recorded it after being on tour for three years, literally right away. It’s got this interesting dynamic of best friends who can play music really well and really tight together and also like we need to get the hell away from each other. There’s that push and pull where we’re all we have and we want to get away from each other…duality! But more love.
Andrew: And we all lived together too, which is awesome but also being in a bus together for years...
It was insane and the label would come in every now and then and be like, 'You guys gotta rein it in.'
Did you have corners of the house that you could retreat to?
Andrew: Kind of, but it was like the house where you could hear a pin drop no matter what anyone was doing, and there was always somebody banging on a piano, which was the loudest fucker in the world.
What was your songwriting process for the album like, since you were all living together?
Hannah: It’s kind of how we get dressed. Andrew will put jeans on and I’ll be like, “You should wear these socks.” Then he’ll get a shirt from Christian. We have no process, and that’s why all the songs are so different. We really don’t. A song could come in a supermarket after a breakup or late at night or on a bus or in a storm.
Do you feel like you write more now with the live show in mind?
Andrew: All these guys have amazing slow songs, too, but I think considering what went on the album, it was definitely thinking that way.
Hannah: We had 24 songs at the end of our recording. So we have kind of this other album, which is this beautiful… I feel like we could go out and tour Mumford with it. It’s just chiller but we are a live band. At the end of the day, you can record us all you want, but we are a live band.
That song, if you listen to it, it’s like, 'Why use spray tan inside the watermelon?' I mean, there’s some lyrics in there that are like, 'Are you guys on drugs?'
Are you going to do anything with that unreleased material ever?
Hannah: Probably. But the thing is, we keep writing, so we’ll see.
Andrew: There is a lot of material always flowing from everybody. We tried to record over 40 songs on the record. We had listed like 45 songs on the refrigerator. It was insane and the label would come in every now and then and be like, “You guys gotta rein it in.” We actually thought we were going to record all 45. We were just so fired up that we just wanted to keep going.
Hannah: We never think this way, but the more we listen to outside people – this is a time when people listen to songs not albums and we hope that we’ll bring back the album. It’s not even that long, but if you download it, you get 16 songs.
What’s on the special edition?
Hannah: There’s a stony jam for sure: 'Beans on Pizza.'
Andrew: Sean tried to put beans on my pizza one night and that inspired a song.
What kind of beans?
Sean: Heinz Baked Beans.
Hannah: British beans.
Andrew: He was getting really into cooking at the house, and he was getting really experimental.
Hannah: No one was eating his cooking. We didn’t know what to do. That song, if you listen to it, it’s like, “Why use spray tan inside the watermelon?” I mean, there’s some lyrics in there that are like, “Are you guys on drugs?”
Are there other songs on the album that are your favorites?
Hannah: It really depends on the vibe, because there are so many different genres. In a way, it’s like moods... My favorite is, I think, 'Save The Party For Me.' It’s the last song on our album and we all wrote it in this parking lot in the middle of nowhere. It’s a good song because it’s talking about staying in or going out and making that choice. If you want to be something, you can’t just go out every night and be like, “Blah.” You have to hone it in. There are those decisions in 'Save The Party For Me.' I love that.
Sean: 'Schoolboy' is one I’ve been listening to a lot.
Hannah: That’s my mom’s favorite. It’s about returning to a place where you had an experience – a relationship with a girl or a boy and you aren’t together anymore so the place just is not the same at all. You have these memories of someone there that’s no longer in your life, so it’s either sad or it’s weird. The schoolyard will never be the same!
What’s the touring plan for the album release?
Hannah: We’re going to be on tour, I heard, for two years straight. Our first tour is called the Seesaw Tour. We wanted to call it the Let Me See Your Face Tour because we’re playing smaller clubs and we’re doing one night acoustic and one night electric in every city. The plan is to mix it up and practice our album, also to reacquaint ourselves with our fans and have an intimate evening together. That tour is with the Rubens. And then after that we’re doing a college tour with the Knocks.
Andrew: Then we do some Christmas radio shows, and then next January we go to do Big Day Out Australia, and then we go to Japan, and then I don’t know. Just some awesome globetrotting around that we’re lucky enough to do.
Has your sound evolved as a result of all the live shows you have been playing?
Andrew: There’s a lot of genre hopping, so to speak, on the album, which we like to do. It’s not a conscious decision. I think we just get bored of songs that sound the same. So when we do go down those avenues on this record, it’s like the harder songs are even harder and we really go to the full extent.
Hannah: Not like technically harder, hardcore harder! We don’t have a linear progression when it comes to this album; we know how to let go in front of each other now. We’ve been so crazy on stage and so vulnerable and we’ve been through everything together so there was nothing to hide anymore. So now we’re just like, “I’m going to freak out in front of you. I’m going to be really sensitive in front of you.” It’s not like we're hiding that anymore.