Christian Zucconi, lead singer of American indie rock band Grouplove, speaks to Sean Hayes about travelling through Crete, the fickleness of modern society and the close-knit energy that his bandmates have crafted
There is a great sense of teamwork, camaraderie and support among the members of Grouplove, an American alternative rock/pop band whose sound lead singer Christian Zucconi paradoxically describes as both “bombastic” and “cathartic.”
This bond comes from the fact each member is so heavily involved with every aspect of the group, from writing, recording and performing to the artwork and merchandising. “We’ve all put in thousands of hours,” recounts Zucconi.
“Hannah especially is always doing double duty, in terms of singing and writing in the band, and also handling all the art. Just as Ryan [Rabin] does double duty with drumming and song writing with everyone, and then he also produces everything. It’s crazy.”
Despite not being together for too long, the band have already released two albums and one EP in the space of three years. “It’s hard to remember, in the last two or three years, when we weren’t on the road. But even when you’re home, there’s still a lot of stuff going on, getting ready for the next tour, production, writing.”
The relentless touring and work ethic has paid off as the band has gone from strength to strength. The group has supported Florence and the Machine, co-headlined with Foster The People and played sets at Lollapalooza, Glastonbury and Coachella. “It’s kind of consumed our lives for the last four years. It’s been awesome, but it is sort of consuming.”
The band weren’t always so close-knit. Zucconi credits Matt Wessen’s older brother, Andrew, for the formation of the band. “He visited Hannah’s studio one day in New York City to buy a painting, but instead of buying a painting, he invited her to his residency in Crete and that kind of started it all. That’s when Hannah and I met and we all journeyed out there without knowing each other to this small village in Crete.”
Zucconi admits that they are much closer now, and believes it shows in their latest record, Spreading Rumours, when compared to their earlier efforts. “We really got to know each other a lot more. We just finally got to settle in, rally around each other and get comfortable with each other musically and become even better friends and musicians.”
The band has become known for their energetic and dynamic performances. They aim to capture this live energy and emotion in their studio recordings. “We wanted to take that live energy of our live set and just put it into the studio. We record everything live. The fans who keep coming back still get a really high energy.”
It is the fans who also continue to push the members of Grouplove to strive for new levels of creativity and artistry. The band recently released a series of animated art videos, featuring their music. Zucconi believes “it was a cool idea to give snippets of the songs. You’re always trying to think of new ways to keep fans engaged and keep their attention. You’ve got to come up with cool stuff. People are always so scatterbrained nowadays.”
It is this fickleness in society that inspired the title of their latest record. “We were all talking about how nobody really communicates through word of mouth as they used to. We wanted the songs to take on the quality of rumour and conversation, people talking about our shows, to idealise that time again when people would just talk.”
Released earlier this year, a highlight of the group’s success was captured in the documentary I’m With You, which records a week in the band’s sold-out SeeSaw Tour in New York City. “It was really awesome. It happened over three days as part of our tour.
“Instead of doing a big venue tour, we went to very intimate shows. We did an acoustic night one night and an electric night the next, so our fans could see both sides of the band. We’re very happy to share the full story. People can really see how it all began.”
While being a member of this up-and-coming band clearly takes a lot of time, Zucconi explains that he still sets aside time to enjoy other music. Whether that’s catching a sight of his favourite bands while Down Under at the Big Day Out festival on the Gold Coast of Australia or listening to the classics.
“I’ll never not listen to the classics, like Bjork and the Pixies, you’ve got to tune into that. Right now, I’m listening to a lot of the bands that we tour with, who are our contemporaries, at least in terms of our music; Caged The Elephant’s new record, for example. Young The Giant have just released a new record too. A lot of cool bands have records out now, and it’s cool to kind of delve into them and not just hear the single.”
If Grouplove are anything to go by, the age old formula for success, determination, ambition, talent and a bit of luck, is clearly working.
Grouplove’s newest album, Spreading Rumours, will be released on the 14th of February and they play the Academy on the 16th of February. Tickets are available on ticketmaster.ie.