Grouplove’s latest album, Big Mess, navigates through the band’s signature surfer vibe into darker waters. It dives into Grouplove’s collective anxieties, reflecting recent changes within the band.
In 2009, five musicians met at an artist commune in Crete. What they initially thought was a brief connection blossomed into substance. Grouplove was born and in 2010, they began touring with Florence and the Machine. Shortly after, the band headlined their own tour.
Big Mess was released September of 2016. Amongst the whirlwind of change, it is not surprising that the band would find a new voice. The band welcomed a baby to members Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper. Bassist Sean Gadd left the band. These difficulties are echoed through the tracks. Big Mess does vary, but it does so while capturing the same indie upbeatness. This is music that makes you want to dance. The rhythm drives through you like surf on a night beach. Its relaxing positivity hints at darkness.
On Thursday November 10, Grouplove will take Norva’s stage. AltDaily sat down with lead guitarist Andrew Wessen, to discuss the insanity of touring life and positive changes within the band. It promises to be a kickass show.
AltDaily: We’re going to start off with a couple of ice breaker questions.
Andrew Wessen: Alright.
If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
I don’t know. Fuck. It’s hard to draw a picture with one color, except for black. I guess I’m just morbidly depressed right now. Black is my mind.
Black is a combination of all the colors, if that helps.
I like that. Put that down. I said it first.
Now for the real questions. How did you get into music?
My grandma was a pianist that played for the USO during World War II. I grew up in a silent household. There was never music on unless my grandma came over and started playing the piano.
Your grandmother was your musical inspiration?
Yeah. It blew my mind watching her hands fly down the piano. It’s one of the first memories I have. I started learning piano and then began stealing my brother’s records. Punk rock and Nirvana, stuff like that. I figured out the guitar by ear. Then it just became a part of me.
Do you remember which record you first stole from your brother?
I remember Green Day’s Dookie. And punk… there was a lot of punk. NOFX and stuff like that. Actually, that might have been after. The first records were early 90s.
I think your band draws inspiration from the 90s and that upbeat music. So, it’s kind of funny that you mention that.
For sure. There’s no question about that.
Grouplove met while abroad. Did you guys know right away that you were going to be successful or was it a jam band?
We had no idea at the time. It was a far away place and we were in a far away state of mind. It’s kind of like summer camp when you’re saying “yo, we’re going to hang out forever.” 99.9% of the time you don’t see those people ever again. Just kind of like oh, that was really special. Then Chris and Sean made it out to LA a year later.
It seems like you’re a tight-knit group. It’s kind of amazing that your band has managed to mostly stay together. What’s your secret?
We try not to kill each other. No. I don’t know, man. Relationships take work. We get along but that doesn’t mean we don’t fight. We fight. It’s going to happen to any band, regardless of how big. Don’t sweat the small stuff, for sure. And smile. You’re making music, it’s not that bad. People say going on tour is so hard but you’re playing music all day, it’s not that bad. I get up and play a few chords. It’s something that I can’t complain about.
Would you say then that Grouplove manages to have fun consistently on tour?
Fun? I mean, yeah, we’re not that boring. We can throw down. We have Christian’s baby on tour so that’s fun because she’s our little mascot. She’s the best. She’s always smiling. It keeps the backstage super jovial because she’s adorable. She’s a burst of sunshine
What do you do to keep yourself sane, besides hanging out with friends and family? It seems, like you said, you would be confined to small spaces a lot.
Honestly I’m fucking mental. I’m on the verge of a mental breakdown right now. But that’s kind of where you want to be on tour. That’s where you’re supposed to be. It’s amazing. Seven years in, and still not normal. You can justify it. Kind of working at a coal mine.
A coal mine?
Like, I think I’m going insane and this is killing me, but I love it. I don’t know, I’ve never worked at a coal mine but that’s what I imagine. Always living this fucking extreme strange circus. But I can’t do anything else; I am completely unqualified to do anything else now. So this is all I have, take it or leave it, you know.
Well that got intense quickly.
It’s better than saying, everything is awesome. It’s insane and intense and emotional but that’s okay. You never remember the best sleep that you got.
Where do you find peace then?
I find peace in the ocean. Honestly I grew up on the beach and that’s where I find solace. I surf. Physically jump off land and go into another medium. Immersed in the surface of the Earth. It’s a strange interaction with nature. It’s so raw and just kind of resets my brain like nothing else.
What about on tour? Do you find moments of peace?
The fans validate what I’m doing and that keeps me sane. Whether it’s a hundred or ten thousand people, having someone come see you is so special. It’s all fine to make a great record but if you can’t share it with the world… It ultimately validates what you’re doing. To yourself, of course, but seeing people interpret your music and how your song affects their life, that’s the intangible stuff that you can’t put your finger on.
That sounds incredible. So, you have a new album that just came out. How do you think it’s different from the other albums?
Honestly we ran out of chords so we just put them all in reverse. We just flipped them backwards. This was the first time we used an outside producer for part of it and we sort of shook it up a bit. That was enjoyable.
Do you get to input into your videos? Because some of your videos are kind of far-out.
Oh, yeah, they’re far-out. Normally it’s a collaboration between the video artist and us. There’s a video coming out in a few weeks that’s going to be amazing for “Good Morning.” It was really cool. We shot it in LA. I’m not a huge fan of music videos, personally.
That’s surprising. Why aren’t you a fan?
They kind of take me out of it when I want to bring my own meaning to a song. When I watch a video it’s nothing like what I thought. I think our music videos are quite good and I like to see how we change and what we look like. It’s cool to see that storyline evolve. There’s a company, Genero that pays people to submit videos for our album. The winner gets like three grand and we have already given out about three of them. It’s cool.
The whole point of this interview is that you have a show coming up in Norfolk. Grouplove visited before. Do you remember?
Where was this? The Norva, right? I remember the Norva with a sketchy bathtub backstage. I love that place, it was super weird.
Yes. Everyone always comments on the hot tub.
Oh yeah, we love going there. We’re going to blow that place up. Wait, you can’t print that because we get bomb threats in this day and age. I’d be sad. Say, we’re going to blow it up and everyone is like ‘Fuck you, we’re not going.’ With the new album, we’re just playing what we want. It’s a kick ass set. Oh god, I said kick ass. Put that as the headline: it’s a kickass set. Actually, please don’t. It will be incredible, it’s the best set we have done yet.
Grouplove will be playing at the Norva Thursday November 10, 2016. The show starts at 7:00 PM. You can buy tickets online here or at the doors. To learn more about the band and future tour dates, you can visit their website here.