Grouplove, the indie pop-rock band out of Los Angeles responsible for the inescapable 2011 bubbly track “Tongue Tied,” came together in rather unique form: via an artist’s retreat in Crete, in the early days of vocalist Hannah Hooper and guitarist Christian Zucconi’s relationship. The band — made up of Hooper (vocals, keyboards), Zucconi (vocals, guitar), Daniel Gleason (bass, vocals), Andrew Wessen (guitar, vocals) and Ryan Rabin (drums) — will release their third album, “Big Mess,” on Friday September 9.
We spoke with Hooper over the phone as she was preparing to head out on tour, between shifts of baby duty with Zucconi (they welcomed their first child last year).
WWD: What has your summer looked like ahead of this new album?
Hannah Hooper: I’m trying to figure out what day it is! We have been playing festivals, we did a little stint in London — this is our reemerging from recording, and I had a baby and all that stuff so we’ve just been doing some shows. It’s kind of like the rebirth for me. I was a little nervous — having a baby, it does change you in a lot of ways, but I feel like I’ve come back. As a personal thing, I really feel, like, stronger and more confident, and more in touch with myself and my priorities and all these like wonderful things I’ve juggled [with] my entire youth, so there is something wonderful about [motherhood].
WWD: This is your first album since your had your baby — how has that changed things with your approach to music?
H.H.: That was the most unexpected and drastic — [but] I can’t even remember what my life was like before. I feel like I was pretty selfish and not in a bad way, but you don’t realize how much time you have before you have a kid. That’s stuff that everyone always says, you know, but that was probably the biggest difference.
WWD: So what can you tell us about the new album, “Big Mess?”
H.H.: The album is called “Big Mess” because we got off tour [from the last album] and our life was kind of a big mess. It was like, I got pregnant with Christian [Zucconi], we had a house that was falling apart, we’d lost touch with our family and our friends, and honestly the state of the world had gone to s–t.
I feel like we came out of this dream of touring and somehow in this total chaos, this big mess, and we wrote 40 songs and were more creative than we’ve been in a long time, and I’m sure a lot of had to do with being in one place and not constantly getting on planes — but there was just this abundance of creativity and that is really what the album is.
We narrowed it down to 11 of our favorites [from the 40 songs]. It’s a culmination of things we’ve been going through and things we went through during this time off and there are some party jams in there and there are some breakdown songs in there, but we’re really proud of this album.
WWD: Was your approach to songwriting any different than for your previous albums?
H.H.: It came together superorganically — I think a lot of bands fear the third album. But we [didn’t worry[ because we weren’t writing for the album, we were just like making art, you know? It was pretty amazing.
WWD: Your background is in visual art — is that something you’ve maintained throughout touring?
H.H.: Yeah, kind of seamlessly. It fulfills that same need to just be creative, whether I’m writing music or painting or cutting up clothes and sewing them together in a weird way or doing lighting design. This band has actually expanded my view of what it is to make things because in a band you can do merch, you can do stage design, you can do clothing, you can do everything, so there’s not an element of this band that I’m not somehow involved in when it comes to visuals.
WWD: How did you get into music from the art world?
H.H.: I was living in New York and was a full-time painter. I went to Parsons, my life was about painting, I imagined myself being the next Picasso or something. I would schlep my portfolio around Chelsea and show in little coffee shops and things like that, and I went to a bunch of shows. My friend who I shared a studio with at the time took me to this kind of hardcore band show on the Lower East Side, and I remember walking in and it was love at first sight — I saw the lead singer and was like “Who is this god, who was just spilling his soul onstage who looks like America’s Next Top Model?” And now he’s my husband!
We just fell in love that night — I’ve never fallen in love like that and I don’t think I’d ever fallen in love before. I don’t think I really even believed in it. I got invited to go to an artist residency in Greece very shortly after we met and I said I would go on the condition that I could bring this guy I just met, because you know in New York you leave and decades have gone by even though it’s been a month. You might never see them again.
So, I just took a risk and was like, “F–k it, I have never felt this way and I’m gonna do the most girly, un-me thing ever,” and was like, “Do you wanna come to Greece with me? Because the residency said you can come if you’re making music the whole time.” And he was like, “Yes! Let’s get out of New York!”
I really wanted to be a fine artist, I loved the privacy of it and then you reveal your artwork. Making music is very collaborative and public and everything I thought I didn’t believe in — and now this is us, six years later.
WWD: Is your daughter coming along for the tour?
H.H.: The baby is coming on tour. We have a traveling squad — I honestly think she’s made the whole team. It’s a big family now, touring — everyone loves her and she’s such a happy baby. She really loves being around people and she doesn’t really have a schedule and that’s important for her not to be on a strict schedule if we travel all the time, and then time changes and all that. So it’s pretty rad.