Two years ago Grouplove met on a sun-blistered island in the Mediterranean and they’ve been best friends ever since. An artist commune, five individuals from far and wide and a blossoming romance = one incredible story and one that I’m sure will be retold on their trip to Australia when they play Splendour In The Grass in just under a week’s time. Music Feeds spoke to frontman Christian Zucconi, beginning our chat as the band bolted from a show in Aldershot and ending thirty minutes later as their van was enveloped by ambulance sirens and the sounds of central London. Alas, it was time to say our goodbyes.
Music Feeds: Where are you guys at the moment?
Christian Zucconi: We’re feeling really good; we’re coming to the end of a six-week tour through the United States and the festivals out in Europe. We just left a show outside of London and we’re in the van headed back into the city now. It’s back to LA in a week after a couple more shows here in England and then hopping on a plane to come see you guys.
MF: Now you’re from America and your song Colours is spelt the English way; that’s because your bandmate Sean is from London. How did you cross paths?
CZ: Well, we met Sean at this artist residency in Crete. He came out there with a friend who he was playing with at these little festivals as part of the program. He was there for a few weeks and we instantly hit it off, especially he and I. We were playing each other songs; we had a lot of the same influences and bonded immediately. Sean kind of kick started the whole band, because a year after we’d had this amazing summer in Crete he was the one who got us back together again; without him none of this would have happened.
MF: Before we get into that, I’ll get you to rewind and tell us more about this artist commune in Crete, Because you guys are from all over the place, how did it all eventuate that you were in the same place at the same time?
CZ: It happened in the most random way, Hannah had come to see a show of mine in New York. She’d been dragged along by a mutual friend and that night we just hit it off and basically had love at first sight. Then two days later, out of nowhere she was invited to this residency in Crete by Andrew; his older brother had a painting studio in Manhattan and just so happened to have started this experimental art residency in Crete and invited Hannah to come along. We’d just met and didn’t want to part ways after only just meeting, so she asked if she could bring me because we didn’t wanna leave it up to chance, you know, her going off to Crete for two months and meaning maybe we’d never cross paths again.
Anyway I sub-letted out my apartment in Brooklyn and sold a bunch of stuff and we made it out to Crete. When we got there we met Andrew and stayed with his brother. Andrew had grown up with this guy called Ryan in LA who was just coming to the end of studying abroad in the Czech Republic, so when he finished up he came out to hang out with us too. And then there was Sean, who’d made his own way to Crete to work on the land and join the commune; it just so turned out that we all sat around playing songs to each other and hanging out in this crazy mountain town. We were at a place in our lives where we needed to be doing something like this; we were all artistically at a standstill in our former lives, it was like starting again with all these amazing people. It was a catalyst for change and that was how the band met, that’s in a nutshell, the story could go on forever! It’s such a cool story to tell, I mean sometimes it’s like, ‘Who are all you people? How did this all happen? Who’s this random English guy?’ For months after we’d all left the island we’d sign off on emails with ‘Group’ or ‘Group love’ and shout it out together because we’d developed such a strong bond, so that’s how the band name came about. We all love each other so we love the name!
MF: You recorded the EP after returning from the island. How quick was it before you jumped into the studio?
CZ: As I said before, Sean was instrumental in getting us to get back together after almost a year of having farewelled each other in Crete. He came out to the States to visit Hannah and I and it just meant so much and showed that he was serious about this thing.
MF: As ‘teen road trip movie’ as this sounds, was it a matter of not letting the moment go?
CZ: You know what it kind of was! After Crete we were all headed back to our dead end jobs and harder life over there and Ryan said “Hey why don’t you guys all come back to my studio in LA and let’s record some songs?” The first song we did was Naked Kids and it just came out really good and Ryan is such a good producer. Little did we know that he made everything sound so big and awesome that we all cancelled our flights back home and moved in with him and his parents and cut the rest of the EP.
All this happened without any one of us saying ‘Hey let’s start a band!’ it just happened naturally. It wasn’t until that ended and we’d all gone back to our homes and we’d play the EP for friends and family that we realised we had this amazing piece of music on our hands. It just so happened that Ryan showed it to his two friends, who are now our managers. They were like ‘Who else has heard this and who is this?’ he was like, ‘Oh no, this is just something I did with my friends who I met in Crete’. So Hannah and myself decided to head over to Andrew and Ryan in California and Sean packed up everything he had and left London and came out as well. Thank god we decided to make a go of it, otherwise I’d be working behind a bar or driving a truck in New York writing miserable songs.
MF: How have you guys found time to record amongst all this wild touring you’ve been doing?
CZ: It was amazing because we didn’t want to change how we did the EP, so we went back to Ryan’s studio and just completed the record in November and December of last year. It was good to get it out of the way because we wouldn’t have had time with all this touring we’ve been doing.
MF: When can we expect your LP?
CZ: Our record will be out in September and we just can’t wait to share it with the world.
MF: Never Trust A Happy Song is the name of the album out in September. Does the name of the record have a deeper meaning – that something that lurks behind pop music?
CZ: Sean came up with the term a little while back and we all loved it and thought it was a funny little phrase, and as it turned out, was very apropos for our music, because we are a very happy bunch together and we have a lot of fun on stage and we love each other. But if you look a little deeper into our songs, they’re not all happy songs. The messages behind them are deep and full of yearning and nostalgia, so it’s like the best of both worlds: people have a great time at our shows, but it’s not all like Naked Kids which is a fun tongue-in-cheek kind of song. There’s a lot of deep stuff going on, but it just comes out in an happy way. It’s an ironic little statement and a great album title, so that’s why we went with it.
MF: Looking forward to Australian tour?
CZ: Yeah we actually had dinner with Paul Piticco who runs Dew Process who we’re signed with in Australia and he’s been telling us about this festival he’s been involved with running. We’re really excited to play Splendour In The Grass, it sounds like our kind of festival! Lots of love in the air…
Grouplove will play the Splendour In The Grass Festival July 29th-Aug 1st
+ two sideshows
August 2 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne 18+
August 3 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney +18 Buy Tickets Here