LA's Grouplove talk Fans, Festivals, and Happy Families

Michelle Lloyd caught up with LA's Grouplove to talk riders, difficult second albums and how Glastonbury is the best festival in the world.

Jayne Robinson

Date published: 27th Feb 2012

Vibrant American five-piece Grouplove aren’t your average band. These LA lovelies’ story is somewhat unique and incredibly inspiring.

This, added to the fact they make astonishingly catchy songs and put on a damn right dynamic show has seen them garner a fair few fans this side of the Atlantic.

After a plethora of festival performances last year and the release of their debut LP ‘Never Trust A Happy Song’ they’re back travelling the breadth and width of the UK bringing with them their cheerful disposition.

Skiddle caught up with lead singer Christian Zucconi and bassist Sean Gadd before their Ruby Lounge gig to talk riders, difficult second albums and how Glastonbury is the best festival in the world.

Welcome back to Manchester! You’re currently in the middle of a European tour, how’s it been so far?

Sean: Well we’re about half way through the tour. We started in Switzerland, we’d never been to Switzerland before so to sell out some clubs there was really weird. We didn’t know if we were doing well there or if anyone had even heard of us so it was amazing.

Christian: Then we went to Rotterdam which we sold out then Belgium was amazing too and now we’re here in the UK.

Do you get chance to see anything of the cities you visit or is most of the time taken up with travelling?

Christian: Usually a lot of travelling. If we get a day off then we’ll go see some stuff. We usually stay in bed for as long as we can, make the lobby call as late as we can and find coffee, we usually don’t even have breakfast as we’re too late.

Are you all party animals when you’re out on the road?

Sean: Sometimes people go out, sometimes people will go back to the hotel. It changes every night depending where we are. If we’ve got an aftershow then we never leave early, we always like to go and meet people especially if they’ve made the effort to come down and see us

Tell me about your rider, do you make peculiar requests or are you quite well behaved?

Christian: I tell you what, we need to start putting lamps, cute lamps on our rider. The lights in the dressing room are always too bright and when you’re tired it’s no fun.

Sean: Hannah and I actually went out for a coffee today and talked about how we need to change our rider.

Christian: Yeah, we don’t take advantage of it, we always end up playing it safe.

Sean: You always end up eating the same sandwiches. Different city same sandwiches.

So you have one girl in the band, Hannah, how does she find being on the road with four guys?

Christian: Well we’re a couple so that helps. It has it’s good days and bad days, it’s tough for her sometimes but she’s basically like a cool guy.

Sean: Yeah Hannah’s cool, she’s like a best friend, most of the time we’re all laughing and enjoying ourselves.

You’ve not really known each other that long considering you only met in 2009, are you still getting to know eachother?

Sean: I feel closer to these guys than anyone. You can know people all your life and not feel close to them. You have to become like a family. You obviously have your bad days and then you have your really good days. You have to work like a family. We really do have so much fun together and rarely argue.

How does touring the UK compare to touring in the US?

Sean: They’re both so different. They both have their great things. We’re an American band, that’s where we formed, where we record and where we play more gigs. It’s so nice when we come to the UK to have something different, especially for me because I’m from England and I went over to America , started a band and people are digging it., it’s amazing.

Christian: The one really cool thing about playing anywhere is our fan base. Wherever we go it’s consistent and that’s what’s really cool.

That must be a great feeling considering the album only came out in September?

Christian: Yeah it’s really surreal. Being somewhere like Rotterdam, somewhere you’ve never been before and having people singing your songs is just an amazing feeling.

Do you think that’s down to the Internet and social media? People hearing your songs online, liking them and then coming to a gig?

Sean: The reason we became a band in the first place was thanks to social media. We recorded our EP initially just because we wanted to make some songs together. It then got uploaded to a website called The Hype Machine and got a great response. At the time I was back in the UK. Hannah and Christian were in LA and Ryan and Andrew were in New York, we then started thinking ‘maybe we should do this, maybe we should be a band’. Our managers then got on board and said let’s do this. I hate to use the word, but we kind of got together organically. Very naturally.

Last year you played a lot of festivals over here, including Glastonbury, how did you all find that?

Sean: Well I grew up over here and Glastonbury is my most favourite festival in the world.

Christian: I loved it. I’ve never been to a proper festival in my life and Glastonbury was the first festival we played. It amazes me how many festivals there are over here compared to back home and how much more free they are, less rules.

You’re playing Coachella this year, I’ve heard it’s pretty regimented?

Christian: Yeah definitely, I’ve not been before but the other guys have. I think if you want to take a beer to go watch a band you can’t and that sucks.

Sean: Festivals in America do have so many more rules. That’s why European festivals are the best in the world, especially in England. Like Glastonbury, there’s nothing that feels as big and as free in the world.

Will we be seeing you play any UK festivals this year?

Christian: Yeah we hope so, we haven’t had anything finalised yet, but I’m thinking probably in July/ August. Probably not as many as last year though, but we definitely want to do some.

Your debut album Never Trust A Happy Song came out in September last year, have you started thinking about the second album yet?

Sean: I think we are every day really. We’ve got ideas in our heads all the time and we’ve got so many songs but we haven’t gone into a recording studio or anything yet.

Second albums are notoriously hard, is that something you’re worried about?

Christian: I think it’s going to be hard to choose what songs go on it, what feel we want and what direction we want to take. We’ve so many songs so there’s so many directions it could go in, but we have plenty of material already. We’re however many months away from recording it so we’ll probably have a lot more songs by then too.

Now you’ve made one album together which was very much a collective effort, have the dynamics in terms of how you go about writing changed at all or is it still very much a group thing?

Christian: A lot of the time someone will write a song and bring it in and we’ll work on it together to make it that Grouplove sound. Some songs we just jam out and they come organically on the spot, but usually someone brings in an idea and we capitalise on it and make it better.

You’re always referred to as a happy band that make happy songs. Do you sometimes wish that people would look past that and look a bit deeper?

Sean: I think a lot of people don’t see the irony of things, the fact that we are called ‘Grouplove’, you know the fact that we’re from California but only two of us are actually from California. There is a lot of darkness in the lyrics and the writing but I think it’s kind of interesting. We are a happy band and we like to surprise people, things aren’t always as they are at face value. We don’t really mind too much.

You’re back touring the US with Young The Giant once you’ve finished up over here, are you looking forward to it?

Sean: We’d love to stay in the UK for longer but the fun thing about this tour is Young The Giant are good friends of ours, we’ve toured with them before in Australia and done some radio shows with them. There’s a nice vibe right now, we did some shows with them, Two Door Cinema Club, Cage The Elephant and Foster The People and there was a really good feeling amongst the bands, a good movement. A lot of the time bands hate each other and there’s so much rivalry but we had so much fun.

Christian: Young The Giant are such good fun and they’re playing some big venues that we haven’t done yet, so that’s going to be great to get in front of all those people for the first time and then next time see them on our own headline tour.

Foster The People had a great end to the year, you’re good friends with them too aren’t you?

Christian: Yeah Foster The People’s only real tour before they blew up was with us, a co-headlining tour. During that tour they started getting huge. It was nice getting to know them on the road.

Sean: It was a pleasure. Some of the shows we did were tiny, there’s five of them in the band and they’ve got lots of equipment and it almost didn’t fit on the stage. They’re great guys and we love them and they deserve the success. And they should have won those two Grammys.

Do you feel you have to work harder when you come to the UK because of the amount of American bands already doing well over here?

Sean: I think with the press at the moment we do have to work a little bit harder in the UK. There are some bands that get the chance to stay over here and really work it and become say NME’s flavour of the month, unfortunately we haven’t had the time to do that. But every time we’re over here we’re building on it and you know, we get a great response.

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