WPGU’s Mandy Rodio, along with reporters from the Daily Illini, Buzz Magazine, and Ohio State’s UWeekly, got to have a chat with Hannah Hooper, who is keyboardist/vocalist for Grouplove. You can catch Grouplove at Foellinger Auditorium on Friday, November 1st. Tickets can be purchased here.
Mandy – WPGU
Allison – Daily Illini
Danielle – Buzz Magazine
Andrew – UWeekly (Ohio State University)
Mandy (WPGU): What was the recording process like on this album in comparison to the one before? Where there any major influences and where did Spreading Rumours come from?
Hannah: It was a totally different process, for Spreading Rumours we had three years straight of touring and we went right into, like did not take any time off, just went right into this house in the Hollywood Hills where we all like lived and recorded with a recording studio in the house. So it was kind of like cooped up there, we didn’t have any contacts with really anyone in the outside world for about two and a half months and just wrote the whole album. And with Never Trust a Happy Song, we worked by day in Brian’s apartment downtown in Los Angeles, but we’d leave at night so we kind of had it much more of a divided experience between our life at home and our life in the studio, you know?
Mandy (WPGU): Definitely.
Hannah: I think that was part of the major difference between the processes for me.
Allison (DI): Can you just talk a little bit about your tour and how it’s been so far? Like what has been your favorite part and any memorable moments?
Hannah: You mean the Seesaw Tour that we just finished?
Allison (DI): Yeah.
Hannah: Okay that, that was like a totally exciting thing because it was just a totally new way for us to approach touring where we did two nights in every city. We did one night an electric show and the next night was an acoustic show. It just gave us an opportunity to look at two very different sides of ourselves. One which the electric side is more of a performance-based evening for us and we got really crazy and wild. Then the acoustic night really got down to like the roots of our songs and like where the songs came from and kind of brought it back to the process of writing songs. I think the whole tour was pretty memorable just because we have the duality, you know, in every city so there’s something really exciting about that.
Andrew (UW): I saw you guys at Austin City Limits and you were awesome, so I’m super excited to be talking to you.
Hannah: Oh yeah, thank you.
Andrew (UW): I followed up an interview with you guys where I think Christian talked about wanting to see Tame Impala and getting excited for ACL. Could you maybe just tell me a little bit about your experience at Austin City and how it compared with your tour you just did?
Hannah: The Seesaw Tour was a really intimate tour. We went into it wanting to have a flavor of full rooms bigger than last tour, really connect with our audience on a reachable level again. So when we finally get to ACL and there was like 20,000 people and we went from a room of like 500, you know how that kind of deal is. It was definitely an adrenaline rush. It was like really exciting and it was fun when we play on smaller stages and smaller rooms so it’s fun to like spread out again. I don’t know, connect crazy, larger, like on a hot day, just some wild fans. But it was fun. And you know what was crazy was the next weekend you heard that it got rained out?
Andrew (UW): I know, i’m really sorry about that.
Hannah: It sucked! I mean we drove, our like bus broke down, we like rented cars. But having one weekend at ACL was epic. Yeah we got to see Tame Impala, we saw like Kendrick Lamar, we saw Atoms For Peace. It was epic.
Andrew (UW): Oh yeah it was awesome.
Hannah: Yeah it was great.
Mandy (WPGU): I actually saw you guys at Hangout Music Fest, which was unreal.
Hannah: Hell yeah.
Mandy (WPGU): That was your first time playing in Alabama right?
Hannah: Yeah it was. It was pretty chill. That was our first time Alabama.
Mandy (WPGU): After playing at Hangout you guys played “I Want To Dance With Somebody,” which was so fun. Can we expect any fun little surprises like that when you come to U of I?
Hannah: Oh yeah. We’re pretty spontaneous, you know? And the truth is we always want to cover a song but we just never like to cover the whole song. (Laughs). It’s weird. But like at a certain point we’re choosing our song and we just want to give them a little taste of someone else. So, it’s fine to do like a section of someone else’s song and we plan to do something like that.
Mandy (WPGU): How was being in that skeleton suit in such hot weather?
Hannah: You know the skeleton suit is secretly my favorite fashion choice because you can’t see sweat, it is super comfortable, and it actually dries really quickly and I don’t get sunburn. So it’s kind of like this perfect combo.
Mandy (WPGU): Fantastic.
Allison (DI): On the video on your website you talk a lot about the album title’s origin, Spreading Rumours and you were saying a lot about how before today’s technology, word of mouth kind of resulted in the pure form for bands. Can you talk a little bit more about how exactly you came up with the album title?
Hannah: Yeah, you know we honestly were just getting like a pre Hurricane Sandy where we originally came up with the album title, Spreading Rumours. And everyone’s phones were down, and remember I lost my phone charger so I didn’t even have a phone. We were like cancelling shows because of the hurricane and you know we were just talking a lot about word of mouth and the power of word of mouth. And the power of like, is it a rumor? Or is it someone telling the truth? Which, if someone came to our show and spread it on to a friend, told them about us, would they exaggerate? Would they be telling the truth? Would they encourage someone to come to our show? And so that’s really like what we were discussing. I feel like our songs have their own kind of identity on the album and then a totally different one when we perform them live. But we just, talking about spreading those rumors! (Laughing) Christian is sitting across from me making faces. I think he might want to join in or something. I think he’s just jealous.
Andrew (UW): I know you’ve been talking about Spreading Rumours a little bit and I saw that you guys on your web site interviewed that you, Hannah, actually are responsible for coming up with the album artwork. I think that’s really cool and I was just wondering if maybe you could talk about like the process of coming up with your album covers and how you make them and just why you choose to create your own album covers?
Hannah: They’re all super…that’s a great question, sorry Christian is being really distracting. Go away!….okay, for each album I had a totally different process. For this one in particular, it was like at the very beginning, like right when we were starting to record. I was just sitting in the studio like doing a bunch of drawings. I don’t know the guys saw it and we were just like, I actually spelt spreading wrong originally in the drawing, which was funny. We photoshopped the man. I don’t know if I should’ve shared that. I was corrected before pref but anyway, I had no intention of that being the album cover but after doing a thick painting and doing these other things, there was a lot of other stuff you had to think about. First of all, like how small things get shrunk down for iTunes and all these things. I just started thinking of how like powerful it is at every different scale. You know whether it be blown up or it’s going to be on a t-shirt or it’s going be super small and I was just like well this is simple. I can’t tell you who it is. It’s everyone. (laughing) If I tell you who it is, it’s so funny. In a few years Andrew I’m going to tell you, and only you who it is.
Andrew (UW): Awesome, thank you.
Mandy (WPGU): On this album I noticed there is this really awesome blend of keeping your guys’ poppier side with “Ways To Go” and “Shark Attack” but then there is also like those 90’s influences on “Raspberry.” Are there any key influences behind the differences in the songs? Like were you listening to a certain artist and got super influenced to make it?
Hannah: You know people keeps asking us that, if we listened to a certain artist, and I think that’s such an interesting question. But I think like our band is so different. We all grew up in different cities and have different influences. Literally when we’re like driving around in the car together, none of us can decide on one band. Not that it’s just different tastes in music, but we all don’t like each other’s taste in music. Which I think is an interesting thing because that combination between Ryan loves Nine Inch Nails, and I love The Pixies, and Christian loves Nirvana, and Sean loves like rock and roll, and Andy loves like The Beach Boys. You know what I mean? There’s something about that melding that I think creates our sound and that’s why each song is dramatically different and that’s why you can’t really pick a certain genre. Everyone’s like, what genre of music is Grouplove? And I’m like the most general genre of all time. Indie rock? (laughing)
Allison (DI): So during October, which is national bullying prevention month, you encouraged fans to use the hashtag “spreading love” to do something nice for someone. I was just wondering where does this idea come from and do you have any memorable stories from the project?
Hannah: Well this project is something we discussed just because we noticed that there was kind of like an interest into the bullying month and stuff. I would say that when I was in school it wasn’t such an issue; it’s more of something that we’re doing for you know, younger kids, that are dealing with that kind of stuff. Our experiences in school were much more with bullying heads on you know? But our principal would be like grab the kids that were picking on other kids. For some reason the first thing I would say to do is to do something nice for that person or stop being such an asshole or whatever (laughing). Basically that’s what we’re trying to do. It’s a little more abstract being online but it seems to be the test to make at the time.
Andrew (UW): You guys are coming to play in Columbus on October 30th at The Bluestone and I just kind of wanted to know are you guys really excited for that? I know you’ve played in Columbus before, what do you think of the city and what kind of sticks out to you that made you want to come back?
Hannah: Well I mean we have had so many epic shows in Columbus. We played one, it was the first show we ever played with Cage The Elephant, epic bands there. Not just that memory, or that specific night. It’s such a college party.
Andrew (UW): Didn’t you guys play there on election night?
Hannah: We did and I came out with an Obama mask on. It was my like subtle “statement.” Yeah, we love Columbus. We originally met in Greece, the drummer from Flogging Molly was there and he lives in Columbus so I weirdly have great memories in Columbus.
Danielle (Buzz): With the Environmental Consciousness Tour and the Spreading Love campaign, are there environmental causes that are close to your heart and are there any other social causes that you’re interested in?
Hannah: That’s a giant question. But yeah we are on the Campus Consciousness Tour and individually as a band I describe us as The Spice Girls. Individually we all have things of interest that kind of encapsulate what this tour is about. Christian and I are both vegans and it’s about what you eat, and where it comes from, and how important local farming is. My parents own an organic farm, which is totally self-abstaining, and it’s solar powered. It effects the kind of thing that helps the community they live in. Anyway, we’re just trying to bring in our personal experiences into a program that’s dealing with a lot more environmental issues. Just taking a part. I guess I’m going to be painting out daily with a bunch of college students in a thing I think they’re calling EcoVillage everyday. So that’s going to be my participation, which I’m pretty stoked on.
Mandy (WPGU): Let’s do a fun one. So I saw you guys were tweeting with Alt-J a little bit ago. Are you guys good friends or are there any good bands that you guys are really close with?
Hannah: We love Alt-J. Kind of crazy but Alt-J opened for us not too long ago and then they went on to win the Mercury award and we’re just so proud of those guys. We had a hilarious, very late night with them in Las Vegas at the end of our tour with them. I guess what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. It was a very good time. Those boys are our homies.
Allison (DI): I was wondering what advice would you give to any students that are aspiring to enter the music industry?
Hannah: I’d say it depends on if you’re going to be an artist obviously or if you’re going to be a manager. I’d say overall if you’re going to be an artist in any form, in any medium, don’t worry about you know what’s in style or successful right now. Because if you’re doing something that’s truly original then you’re responding to it, people are responding to it, and it will catch on. Originality and the point of making artists is to share something really personal and try to, you know, hopefully that other people respond to it. As long as you’re trying there is something really that will get lost in your art.
Andrew (UW): As far as Spreading Rumours and Never Trust A Happy Song, do you guys have any favorite tracks from the album, like just to listen to and also to play live?
Hannah: You know it’s easier for me to talk about playing live. Borderlines And Aliens is like across the board my favorite song to play live right now. It’s like a head-bang anthem or something. It’s just like I get lost in that song and it’s really fun. And Bitin’ The Bullet turns into this like crazy rap verse at one moment and it’s just really fun on stage. Our new album is like energy. I feel like we pushed it up a couple notches from the last album. Live it just feels like we’re really “on” and it’s fun.
Danielle (Buzz): Tongue Tied was a pretty big hit. Do you guys feel any pressure from yourselves or the record label or whoever to create another big hit on Spreading Rumours?
Hannah: You know that’s a good question. It’s like a burden of success in a way. We actually have no stress because we know that to make something, you can’t predict a song that’s going to hit or if it’s going to be good. We had no idea that Tongue Tied was going to be as successful as it was and we’re just grateful and humbled by the experience. We just went in and recorded and just totally closed off from the world and wrote music the way we always do. We just put it out there and that’s the way it goes. I think if we were trying to make hits we’d be writing pretty terrible music.
Mandy (WPGU): What’s the strangest thing a fan has ever done?
Hannah: We have really cool fans. Most of them give me really cool artwork. Oh you know what, this was weird. There was this girl that gave us like weed chocolates before a show. We were all really excited about that and we were told to put them in the fridge because they were like some special, melty weed chocolates. Anyway, after the show we’re getting like hit up on out Twitter and she’s like writing on these Instagrams that she wants the weed chocolates back (laughing). What’s up with that? That was just weird. Did we not satisfy you? I don’t know what happened.
Andrew (UW): Just in general, who is the craziest member of Grouplove? Like who can you always rely on to pump people up and get you guys ready for a show?
Hannah: I’d say Sean. I mean it depends on who, but I would say Sean definitely pumps everyone up fosho. You know he brings out that British rock and roll flavor.
You can stream Spreading Rumours below: