One of 2011’s indie success stories, Grouplove, have found themselves playing festivals all summer. Their vibrant brand of Californian sun-drenched pop has seen them debut in Australia as the opening band for Splendour in the Grass, as well as releasing their debut album to critical acclaim. Music Feeds catches up with English bassist Sean Gadd for a chat about Australia, friendship and Grouplove-ifying songs.
Music Feeds: Hi Sean. How are you this morning?
Sean Gadd: I’ve been trying to figure out the coffee machine for the last twenty minutes. We’re in Nashville, Tennessee, going to play a show here tomorrow night. We’ve got a night off and I’m basically chilling in my hotel room. We haven’t had much time to rest recently so this is great. I want to venture out into downtown Nashville.
MF: Having a hotel room in Nashville kinda sums up the awesome year Grouplove have had, right?
SG: Our year’s been insane, it’s been phenomenal. We’ve not had time to step back and think about what we’ve done. We’ve just carried on and wanted to push forward and now we find outrselves in hotel rooms in Nashville, which is becoming the norm. It’s kinda crazy, we’re very lucky. We’re blown away by it for sure
MF: It may be difficult to pick one, but have you had any particular highlights in 2011?
SG: Well one of our absolute highlights of this summer, and I’m not saying this because you’re Australian press, but Splendour in the Grass for sure. Just the way we were welcomed by Australian music fans, it was just amazing. Australia was all about saying hello and making sure we’re ready to stay for a lot longer. We can’t wait to get back.
MF: What was it about the Splendour that really made an impact on you?
SG: The only one of us who’d been to Australia before was Andrew (Wessen, guitar) who’d gone there to surf. People we met were so nice and when we came to Splendour, we got there really early and I was looking at the stage before people started arriving. I was looking up at this natural amphitheatre and it was just the best stage I’ve ever seen at a festival. That piece of land, the hill, it’s insane. We watched other bands who played after us and you can see bands from any position, which is unheard of at a festival, especially if you’re at the back. We played about noon and a decent crowd turned out and it was awesome. We made really good friends with one of the bands who played after us, Cloud Control, and hung out with them. They came to our album launch in London.
MF: Never Trust A Happy Song, your debut album, came out last month. What does it represent for Grouplove?
SG: It’s a combination of all the characters in our band, our past and our present. It’s about the way we came together and it’s an album of us expressing ourselves. The tunes on the album were all written a few years ago. We all had songs from our past that we played when we met each other in Crete and we backed up each other’s songs and were really interested in each other. We said, “One day we wanna record these songs,” so when it came time to do so, we had these old songs from our past and new songs to bring to the table. When we played them as a band for the first time, the songs became brand new, they’d been Grouplove-ified. It brought something to the songs and they sounded shiny and new. It’s the case with a lot of bands; it takes a lifetime to write the first album.
MF: Which is what makes the second album harder; less time! Do you think much about the future of the band?
SG: We’re enjoying what we’ve got on now. As an artist, I personally, can’t wait to go in and record more songs. We’ve got a second album, we’ve got so many songs, there’s stuff I can’t wait to record. It’s in the back of my mind but we’re not gonna rush into anything. Our first album has literally just come out so we’ll be touring this album as much and as far as we can.
MF: You’re the kind of band whose songs develop live, right?
SG: That’s why our live show is different to the album. When you play a song night after night, they naturally evolve into something that can only come from being a touring band. There’s nothing like hands-on experience of playing night after night and songs become almost a different beast. That’s why live music is great. When I go and see a band, I don’t wanna hear exactly what I hear on the record. If I love the record, I want to hear something else as well. I feel we do that. We’re so lucky that the audiences we attract, we’re all there together to have fun. We’re really into music and enjoying ourselves and not taking ourselves seriously. Let’s have some fun! The response we get has made us as a band and I feel like our show’s developed through the audience and their reactions. I feel like you’ve always gotta take in what you’re going through and be influenced by your surroundings. You need it to stay relevant, even to yourself. We constantly feel inspired. I’m on tour with five of my best friends, we’ve got a great team around us. It’s so much fun that even when someone’s having a bad day they just look around and there’s so much to be happy about.
MF: What goals do you have for next year?
SG: Keep touring, keep getting better and keep doing what we’re doing; keep ourselves inspired; and keep entertaining people too. Just to keep going! Keep it fun!
MF: You’ve been on the road a lot this year. How do you keep going and are there any survival tips?
When you’re on the road, you just have to love each other and be best friends or a family. You’re gonna have ups and downs and arguments and you’ve got to learn how to come through it. With us, every now and then we might have squabbles but an hour later we’ll be laughing about it. You’re on a bus for what feels like eight days a week and things aren’t gonna run smoothly all the time and you’ve gotta be prepared for that, but we’re genuinely blessed that we get on as well as we do and have the friendship we have.
Watch: Grouplove at Splendour in the Grass 2011