At this point in history, a band name can often be the result of tossing unrelated words into a hat or relying on an online band-name generator.
But for Grouplove – which plays the Fillmore Wednesday – there’s much more to it.
Sure, the name is a good way to describe the arty collective’s sunny, inventive, alternative electro-rock and pop, but it also speaks of the members’ fated meeting.
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Visual artist Hannah Hooper was invited to an artists’ commune in Crete days after falling hard for musician Christian Zucconi in Manhattan. In Crete, the couple met Los Angeles-based friends Ryan Rabin, a drummer/producer (and son of former Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin), and surfer/guitarist Andrew Wessen; as well as London songwriter Sean Gadd.
“We were all in a weird point in our lives,” Rabin says. “Most of us had finished school and didn’t know what we were doing. We were in sort of a stalemate as far as career was concerned. It’s either fate, or right place, right time.”
Bonding wasn’t originally musical. Keyboardist/vocalist Hooper, who also does the band’s artwork, had never even been in a band, and would sit and draw the others playing music on the beach.
“I think what we bonded over was our differences,” says Rabin, who says none of the members could ever agree on a playlist. “Everyone was at a certain point in life where we were all more open-minded than we’d been before, musically and generally – which is why we were open to this whole experience in the first place. When we were in Crete, there was a music festival that the artists commune put on. We all separately played some music, and I think we all just appreciated each other’s styles, which were very different.”
The friendship and chemistry between them was undeniable. A year later, Zucconi, Hooper and Gadd visited L.A. and roped Rabin and Wessen into recording with them.
The result is the warm and fuzzy Grouplove, probably the most authentically spontaneous-feeling rock group to come along since Arcade Fire. It mixes art-rock, guitar rock, percussion and synth-driven electronic dance elements with harmonious positivity (check out the song “Hippy Hill”) and a live show that’s like a mass bonding experience.
“I think why we value this band is partially because the different way we came together,” Rabin says. “We feel really lucky in a way we didn’t feel about other bands. We never had this kind of chemistry.”
Grouplove did, however, experience its first loss this past year, when bassist Gadd decided to return to London permanently.
“It was really difficult because he’s a huge part of the band,” Rabin says. “He’s part of our story and such an incredible best friend. We all made so many sacrifices individually to make this band happen. Chris and Hannah came from New York. Sean from London. It’s a sad thing to see when someone decides they want to move on, but at the same time, it’s what he wanted to do to get his life together. ...
“We were very lucky to be recommended Dan (Daniel Gleason), the new bass player... from Manchester Orchestra. He’s not a replacement. He’s a new element to the band.”