When you ask a band how they came together, it tends to be a fairly typical story -- “We all went to high school together. We were introduced through mutual friends. I saw him play in a different band and recruited him... ”
What you don't normally hear is that they all, for whatever reason, ended up in an artist commune on a Greek island, became fans of each other's work, kept in touch, scraped together funds to visit the members who lived in Los Angeles, and ended up forming a band together. That is the story of Grouplove.
Things are going well for the five-piece. The band released their debut album, "Never Trust a Happy Song," last September (on Canvasback/Atlantic Records) and had a single, 'Tongue Tied,' reach number one on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart.
Grouplove, who will hit the road in September, recently played at the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California, where the audience took crowd surfing to a whole new level, climbing on top of boogie boards and riding through a sea of concert attendees.
Following the gig, we chatted with the band about guitarist Andrew Wessen’s own little US Open surfing adventure, living together with drummer Ryan Rabin’s parents, and how they continuously lose bassist Sean Gadd while on the road.
How did you all end up on the Greek Isle of Crete together?
Ryan: It's a long story. We were at weird places in our lives, sort of not doing well where we were -- L.A., New York, San Francisco, London -- and we all ended up there. It was Andrew's brother that helped start it with this Greek guy and we were there one summer. We were strangers to each other and we met and just really quickly made friends and that was it. And a year later, everybody visited us in L.A. and we were making music together.
Christian: We just had so many cool things in common and not in common, which mixed together and made a cool, special relationship. We loved music and all of us shared that, and Hannah was an artist who was drawing all the time. We were these artsy kids that just kind of found each other.
Sean: We never really played as a band in Greece. We just supported each other's songs and we wanted to hang out and that was it. It wasn't like, “Yeah, we've got this idea for a song. We gotta work on that.” It just came together really nicely.
And this was part of an artist commune?
Christian: Yes. It was an artist commune with painting and musicians.
Sean: We were painting musicians!
Christian: A year later, we did all meet up and it was cool to have that history. It just augmented the friendship -- “We've hung out in Greece. That's really weird and let's hang out together.”
Hannah: And we still like each other, when we’re not in Greece, which is rare. I mean it's not rare, but we're not the kind of people who travel all the time and we went to Greece. It was like the first time in Greece. Unbelievable experience. And then it actually stayed. Our friendships were real enough that we're still really good friends right now. We're living together.
So you are all living together right now?
Ryan: Yep, at my parent's house. With my parents.
Ryan: It's great. It's like a fun sleepover every night.
Christian: It's not crazy though. We're on tour so much. We're not in their face all the time.
Ryan: It's early nights.
Hannah: We had Indian food at 11:30 together last night. Really feel kinda sick today but it was awesome.
You have a lot of people in the band. Have you ever lost a band member on the road?
Ryan: Yeah, we lose Sean all the time. It's all the time. I'm not even kidding. We had to install a tracker on the phone. I mean, straight up, I'll tell you the truth -- I have Sean's password so I can see where he is.
Sean: The funny thing is, I always come back.
Andrew: And he always makes bus calls. He's generally good at bus calls.
Sean: I've fucked that up a few times.
Where do you go?
Christian: Yeah, Sean, where do you go?
Ryan: Last time we found him in a bush. That is absolutely true.
Sean: That is not true. I wasn't in a bush.
Christian: He's a big horticulturist. He studies plants late into the night. He brings his books. He's like, “Look what book I got at the library!” A lot of times, he's at the library, renting plant books.
Sean: The thing is, I'm an artist and sometimes I trip out. I need to find a space where I can literally go and read or write and sometimes I block out everything else just to -- I don't know... I think all artists work in different ways but when I'm being creative, when I’m in that zone, I don't even know I have a phone. I just have to get in that zone.
Ryan: Which is why I have to install the tracker on the phone.
Hannah, how does your artist background translate into the music you guys make?
Andrew: She just comes at it in a completely different angle. Kind of like when she's explaining our mix to our monitor engineer, she'll be like, I feel like I'm down the hall, under the couch with my face against the pillow. And we're like, "could you say you want more high end or something?"
Ryan: She can be super objective when the four boys get really overindulgent in a jam or something when we're having so much fun. She's like, “I don't like it so nobody else is going to like it.” And, “Come on guys, reel it in, reel it in. It's a song. Where's the song? We've left the song. Let's go back to the song.”
Christian: Hannah's brain is really cool. She just has really cool ideas that we would never think of on our own. It makes us stand out.
Hannah: Keep it coming guys!
Ryan: She's really pretty. I love her hair. She has the nicest hair, cool style.
"We lose Sean all the time. It’s all the time. I’m not even kidding. We had to install a tracker on the phone."
How was the US Open of Surfing?
Hannah: Great. Crazy.
Andrew: It's the first time I've seen people actually crowd surfing on boogie boards. There were people hanging 10 and getting all into it and stuff.
Andrew, you're the surfer in the band. Did you get any surfing in yourself at the US Open?
Andrew: I was surfing right on the buoy line, where you can't go 'cause they're competing, and I fell in a huge set wave and my board washed 200 yards into the competition zone. I was just doggy paddling in. There's like 100,00 people watching in the stands. I was like the only guy.
You went into the actual competition zone to retrieve your board?
Andrew: Yeah! It was hilarious. And the current was taking it south so I'm trying to act really casual and trying not to swim too fast and the board is just floating down this beach. The lifeguard was like, “Hey, what are you doing?”
What's the best thing you've got to do while on tour so far?
Hannah: I took the guys to get a mani-pedi one day. It was hysterical. They loved it. I think the highlight of the tours though, are the shows. There is nothing that can top a great show. Great shows are destroying all the experiences in my life 'cause you can't get better than jumping in front of thousands of people and being totally real and open. Then you get off and you're like, “Eh. I guess I'll go eat some cereal.”
Follow Nicole Pajer on Twitter for more news and updates.
- Sign up for our SPAM newsletter to get more great stories sent straight to your inbox!
- Tornado Chasing With Shiny Toy Guns
- Red Bull Soundstage: New Emerging Artists