Interview: Grouplove’s Hannah Hooper finds exhilaration in pushing past the barriers of her comfort zone

Remember That Night.

Not only is it a stand out track on Grouplove‘s latest album BIG MESS, but it’s a recent social media movement that has been connecting fans of theirs right around the globe. Since 2011 and the release of Never Trust a Happy Song, the Los Angeles group have been trussing together a community of fans who have been riding hard for Grouplove since. Songwriter and vocalist Hannah Hooper is still blown away by how small this industry has become over the years, thanks to the band’s endless touring and the prominence of social media.

“Every time we meet someone who we’ve affected or who we’ve just given a good night to, it is something that never gets old. The truth is that we’re affecting each other, you know? What we’re all looking for is this community, at least for an hour and a half show; we’re forming this community. It’s a really special feeling we all have and then the show’s over and then we’re all feeling like looking for that again, in a way. We all need that.”

It’s hard not to talk about this year of touring for Grouplove without leaning back into some good old fashioned nostalgia. Their next lot of Australian tour dates, coming in February, has been built around celebrating Grouplove’s three-album strong catalogue, bringing the fans the sets they want.

“As a band, I think we are the biggest in Australia.” Hooper explains. “In the United States, we’re doing really well, but in the way that it works, we’ve just taken little baby steps up. We never had fame overnight in the US and I think, as a band, that path is important for us as artists. To have had the time to progress at a rate that’s possible, rather than being impossible and having overnight fame with just one album.”

“It’s been really exciting for us to get to know our fans along the way. We have a lot of people who have been there with us since the beginning who we see at a lot of shows and hang out with. We took a couple of old fans out with us the other night to a War on Drugs concert, because we had extra tickets. It was really fun.”

Not only has the #RememberThatNight movement brought many memories of life on the road back to the fore for Hooper, but it’s made her excited to continue developing her craft with new music that is very much on Grouplove’s horizon.

Christian and I are so lucky,” she says of the life she and her husband, Grouplove guitarist and vocalist, Christian Zucconi, are able to share. “We have the normal world that we live in and then every night, we go onstage and we share this animalistic magic together. It’s very primal. It’s getting more intense, but that’s the best part. We’re all up in the audience; we’re on this crazy arena tour right now and it’s so different. We’ve never done this before, but to make a 20,000 room feel like it’s still an intimate show is how we’ve approached it. It’s wild.”

The wild ride Hooper and Zucconi have been on was bolstered of course, with the arrival of baby Willa, the newest member of the Grouplove family, last year. Balancing life on the road with that of being first-time parents, Hooper describes how she and Christian have been adjusting.

“She’s definitely our child,” she laughs. “She’s so musical and she’s so loud! She’s an entertainer already, it’s crazy. It is the greatest work of art we’ve made, this child. We have this joke that when she’s old enough to really get into music, she’ll be like, ‘Ugh, my parents are in Grouplove. I hate that band!'”

“It’s been super fulfilling,” she adds. “We’ve been writing more music than ever, which is crazy. Learning how to write on the road is, to me, such a gift. You can only go to so many bars and so many vintage stores before you’re like, ‘Let’s be artists, let’s actually make some art‘, you know?”

Photo: Daniel Boczarski

A visual artist first, Hooper reflects on the moves made to bring her stages in front of thousands in 2017. Taking a leap in first connecting with Zucconi and inviting him to come away with her, Hooper remembers her early days with Grouplove, a period of self-realisation and discovery.

“Making that call to Christian, who I barely knew, and asking him to come to Greece with me,” she remembers. “[That] was the beginning of me changing and understanding that at a certain point, a lot is out of our control in our lives, but there are things we can control or at least try to. That was the first moment where I was like, ‘Hey, I’ve never felt love like this before. I’m going to reach out to this guy.’ So we went to Greece and then the band happened.”

“Recording with the band was crazy, I cried a lot during that time, I was so insecure. I was really uncomfortable. I was such a private person with art in general. I don’t know if you ever caught that phase where I wore a mask, it was super weird! There were just so many stages of me breaking free and just figuring it out. I’m still figuring it out. That was the best part; as long as I’m always pushing myself forward, it’s always going to be exciting.”

Hooper doesn’t speak of those moments of insecurity with any type of lament or regret, these were integral moments of time that have built her into the person and artist she is today.

“I feel like I came into this band from being a painter and then immediately, I was just in this band, having never done music before.” she admits. “It’s been a progression for me to come out of my shell. I was Christian’s hype girl and behind the scenes we were making music; it’s taken me some time to find my voice. As I’m getting older and now that I’m a mum, I have this strength and this voice now. I feel like this is who I am and I’m really excited to develop her. It’s exciting to feel powerful as a woman right now and in writing a lot of these songs, I just feel so strong. It’s an exciting place to be, on stage. It really is.”

“Meeting Christian and being in this band,” she adds. “It’s pushed me so much further out of my comfort zone than I ever, ever expected I could even go. I honestly never knew this person within me and now it’s so liberating. I found freedom from constantly pushing myself past my comfort zone, every day. It really is a repetition and in finding my place on stage, it really helped me off stage. I trigger this animal on stage and I’m like, ‘Okay – I need to find this person off stage and write from there,’ Live from there too. I’ve been finding her and it’s just so freeing.”

BIG MESS is out nowFollow the band online here.

GROUPLOVE AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
Tickets on sale via www.secretsounds.com

February 9th | The Triffid, BRISBANE
February 13th | Croxton Bandroom, MELBOURNE
February 15th | Metro Theatre, SYDNEY

Grouplove will also be appearing at NSW’s Mountain Sounds Festival and Tassie’s Party in the Paddock.