A chance meeting at an artist colony on the island of Crete brought together the five members of Grouplove, and the Laurel Canyon-based act's blend of indie pop and alt rock turned their first single, “Tongue Tied,” into a surprise hit last year. (It's also featured on an iPod commercial.)
Their first album, 2011's Never Trust a Happy Song was a success, which makes the stakes high for their new work, Spreading Rumours, out today. Second albums are notoriously weak, so we caught up with singers Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper to ask: How do you avoid the dreaded sophomore slump?
5. Work non-stop
Christian Zucconi: “As a band, we've always had a lot of material. Even going into the record, the reason why we weren't worried was because we came in firing after two-and-a-half years of touring. We became a really solid live act and we wanted to harness that energy and not take any time off. We wanted to strike while the iron was hot. We only took a week off between the final show, the holidays and recording. We had almost 10 songs and ideas done from stuff we worked on on the road, we'd so we knew we were in good shape.”
4. Don't hate each other
Zucconi: “We were excited to meet the challenges of making the next record. We enjoy being around each other, even though we spent so much time together. We've lost touch with all of our friends from back home, we don't see them like we used to. We're like our only family outside of our real family. I think that's a big reason why we're able to go in and make a good record is all of us getting along.”
Hannah Hooper: “We realized we were all kind of stuck together. It was this beautiful love/hate dynamic that was really powerful and really flowed through every song on the album. Even when we were done for the day recording, we'd still be working on the album.”
3. Get High
Hooper: “Smoking marijuana is good. It keeps me — and Christian — focused on the art. It also keeps [one] focused on food and friends. When you're living in a bubble already in a sense, it helps amplify your art for yourself. It keeps you focused on your own shit and makes distractions [like your smartphone] fade away. It gives us to focus on the strength of what we're doing.”
2. Be Cohesive
Zucconi: “Before we recorded the last record, we only played 10 shows as a band and everything moved so quickly that we did stuff separately and didn't really know each other. Now, we can write a song on an acoustic guitar and after rehearsing it for a half hour, we're comfortable enough to go in and record it right there. We would have it fresh so on the fourth or fifth take, we'd have the song.”
Hooper: “We've evolved so much in the past three years, we've come to trust ourselves as musicians, and we've closed ourselves off from the world to focus on the band. There's a no fear element to this album because of the comfort we have with each other.”
1. Wait, What's a Sophomore Slump?
Hooper: “Sophomore year was a good time for me in high school! I'd never even heard of the term sophomore slump. Only once after we wrote the second album did someone ask us if we were terrified about it. We were like, 'wait what?' Not knowing what the sophomore slump is the tightest way of avoiding the sophomore slump.”