How Grouplove Is Handling the 'Big Mess' of Parenthood, Touring, and Vocal Chord Injuries

James Marcus Haney
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Grouplove has always been thrown into situations they never saw coming, from impulsively forming the band while abroad, to nonstop touring, to now getting back on the road with a child in tow. It’s no wonder why their latest album aptly was named Big Mess.

The band’s roots began when Hannah Hooper (vocals, keyboards) met Christian Zucconi (vocals, guitar) in New York City. It was love at first sight. However, Hooper was about to leave the country to paint at an artists’ commune on the Greek island of Crete. She asked Zucconi to join, and he accepted.

They met the rest of the band at the commune. But it wasn’t until a year later when Hooper, Zucconi, Sean Gadd (bass), Andrew Wessen (guitar, vocals), and Ryan Rabin (drums) all found themselves in Los Angeles.

“We got together in the next year and started playing, and it actually started to happen. It was like a dream come true. It sounds like this story is bullshit because it’s so amazing, but it’s one of those things that was a trip that changed our lives forever,” Zucconi says.

And in the studio, all the jam sessions and songwriting from the commune paid off. The group had quickly written an EP, which was produced by Radin and featured artwork by Hooper.

“We just had a bunch of songs in the bulk that we brought out, so that incorporated with our writing together, we had some old songs, so it just came together really well and quickly,” he says.

This began more than four years on the road, touring with bands like Foster the People, Young the Giant, and alt-J. Meanwhile, the group also released their first two albums, including chart-topping single “Tongue Tied.” But even though they thrive in chaos, they had to slow down.

“It was so needed and really important for all of us to step away for a minute and kind of digest the last four to five years of straight touring and really dynamic shows and getting bigger and bigger. We each got to know each other and got to know ourselves again off the road, and have started writing from this new perspective,” he says.

During their time off, Zucconi and Hooper also welcomed their daughter, whom Zucconi jokes has already started writing some guitar riffs and her own songs.

“It’s been amazing. You can’t describe it, really. You have to be a parent to speak the language. We’re having a blast. She’s a wonderful happy baby, and we got to take her on the road at the beginning, which is really cool, and she’s instilled this beautiful new breath of fresh air into the band and into traveling on the road,” Zucconi says.

Grouplove’s tour came to a halt at the end of last year when Hooper injured her voice, so their set at McDowell Mountain Music Festival will be the first after her doctor-ordered silence for recovery. Before the show, though, they’ll probably be drinking backstage.

“We put jalapeños in a bottle of tequila and have a bunch of shots before we go on stage, and we usually get in a huddle, and every night we shout out a different bad song. It’s pretty funny, it’s just a bad song that everyone really likes to make fun of at the same time,” Zucconi says.

They then bring the craziness and electric energy (and equally wild hair colors) on stage, and at each show it’s easy to see they’re having the time of their lives.

“We do [have fun]. It’s how we get through life: getting up on stage and being able to have that outlet every night. It’s very important.”

Grouplove is scheduled to perform Friday, March 3, at McDowell Mountain Music Festival at Margaret T. Hance Park.

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