Hannah Hooper, one fifth of LA-based indie-pop rock quintet GROUPLOVE, took a hot sec from the band’s hectic Aussie tour to chat with your pals at Fashion Industry Broadcast. Resisting the overwhelming urge to kick off the interview ‘Tongue Tied’, we spoke to the ever-vivacious Hannah about life on tour, the wave of electric ladies taking over the industry, and whether she ever plans on selling her own line of couture leotards.
GROUPLOVE were the name on everyone’s lips circa 2011; a time when iPod’s were slightly smaller than your palm, and – perhaps most memorably – a time when Apple consumers revelled in owning both an iPod and an iPhone. What a wild ride we’ve had! But certainly none wilder than the whirlwind success Grouplove enjoyed when their hit ‘Tongue Tied’ made the cut for one of those hip iPod ads.
Having been acquainted with the band’s most popular hits by way of triple j’s high rotation, GROUPLOVE made the ‘must-see’ list for my first ‘Splendour In The Grass’ experience. It was 2011, and the Byron Bay-based festival was taking a brief hiatus in Woodford. Admittedly running a little late to their set, I darted through the hordes of dusty festival-goers filing into the absolute revelation that is the Woodfordia natural amphitheatre – and was immediately greeted by the group’s inarguable anthem ‘Colours’. A coupla’ festivals later, and my brain is understandably a little sketchy on who I’ve seen and where – but the memory of watching GROUPLOVE ignite the whole of Woodfordia is something I’ll never forget.
Fast forward seven years, and the LA-based group have three incredible studio albums and two EPs under their collective belt. The band have played most of Australia’s biggest festivals, countless headline shows, and have even ticked off every artists dream gig – Coachella. Naturally, I dove headlong at the chance to chat to one of the biggest indie-pop rock bands to grace our shores.
Coming down from the high of Tasmania’s ‘Party In The Paddock’, Grouplove’s leading lady Hannah Hooper immediately gushed that the 2018 festival was one of her all-time favourites so far. From the eclectic fashion to the long-haired patrons emerging from the earthy warrens of tent city, the ‘1973’ vibes ran rampant and only bolstered her love for touring our lush country. Hannah, just you wait for Mountain Sounds Festival this weekend – we Sydney-Siders (and surrounds) may be battened down by lockout laws, but we sure know how to hit a festival square in the jaw.
Playing the fledgeling festival on NSW’s Central Coast this weekend, Hooper herself joins a slew of electric ladies spotting the bill. When asked if she had her own network of badass female musos in the States – similar to the Electric Lady movement championed by Aussie Jack River – she lamented that while she doesn’t have time for an alliance per se, she certainly stands proud for women in music.
No matter what a female is doing on stage that’s the person I’m normally looking at. Whether they’re playing keyboard or drumming, I just like women to be so dimensional – it’s so interesting and so fun to watch… I’m such a fan of women standing together, we’re just amazing creatures.
But if she did have the time – and the ability to cast a witchy reincarnation incantation – Patti Smith, Janis Joplin and Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs would stand alongside Hooper in her badass muso alliance.
‘There’s a sensuality to [women] that often-times men don’t have’ – it goes without saying that sensuality materialises beyond merely stage presence; stage fashion also plays a significant role in shaping an artist’s persona. According to Hooper, she dresses completely differently on and off-stage. Which, judging by her seemingly infinite collection of leotards, isn’t a real stretch to picture!
Onstage, I dress like a sex icon. I like feeling sexy, but also covered – which took me a long time to figure out how to master that look.
Inspired by 2017’s ongoing trend of musicians and icons collaborating with top fashion brands – and with Hannah dropping the juicy nugget that she often sews her own outfits (what can’t she do?) – I wondered aloud if she would consider spruiking her own line of festival-ready leotards,
That would be awesome because they’re already made! We’d just need someone to make them. If anyone in Australia wants to be that person, then reach out!
The last port of call on GROUPLOVE’s brief headline tour is at the Metro Theatre tonight. Having not toured Sydney for a number of years, the band will surely be greeted by a rude awakening come post-gig drinks – with our nightlife precinct closed for business after-hours, the city remains a shadow of its former self. Unable to comment on the laws-that-shall-not-be-named, Hannah stressed the importance of the band’s own local live music scene in shaping GROUPLOVE‘s path to success,
We totally relied on [the local live music scene]. We relied on local blogs, local newspapers, and you know, tweeting out when we were going to play… The internet is kind of taking away from really getting to know your neighbours and neighbourhoods and stuff, but that really is where fundamentally things should start – you know, it makes it much more organic to me.
Not merely relying on the exposure and opportunity that a thriving live music scene has to offer young and up-and-coming bands, Hannah emphasised that playing and growing as a band in your own city ‘gives you your local flavour’.
What makes you different when you play in another city? People get a taste of where you come from.
It’s easy to get lost in the economic downfall of Sydney’s nightlife, and while the advent of the lockout laws have undoubtedly dealt a harsh blow to businesses and establishments, Hannah’s remark about a ‘city’s flavour’ certainly highlights a deeper issue. If you were asked to describe the taste of Sydney, what would you say?
Sitting on the other end of the phone, listening to Hannah gush about Melbourne’s murals and pop-in bars – it felt like we were worlds away. ‘I remember Sydney feeling like that too’ – I didn’t have the heart to tell her the group’s high-voltage show had a better chance of reviving the city’s night-culture than our own State Government.
Speaking of (the) depression, this is the band behind the absolutely infectious outtro for Netflix’s Bojack Horseman – an unflinchingly honest, animated portrayal of mental health. I posed the question of how the band keep tabs of their own on-tour wellbeing, to wit Hannah responded, ‘we always eat together, and go out together so there is a sense of camaraderie.’ Apparently, Aussie food is pretty dang delicious too!
Hooper, now juggling mum-life on top of touring, admits that while she has less time in her schedule, by ‘becoming more meditative and spiritual’ she has paradoxically freed up more time for herself. Fortunately, Hooper and Zucconi’s young daughter Willa accompanies the band on almost all of their tours. However, the busy mum acknowledged the strain of juggling parenthood and her artistic endeavours,
‘Being an artist is actually a really selfish way to live. You don’t walk out at the end of the day, there is always an opportunity to be creative and make something and be inspired.’
GROUPLOVE have certainly enjoyed fast fame and notoriety on our sunburnt shores, but surprisingly their success in the States has been a bit of a slow burner. Hooper cautions unearthed artists: ‘you gotta make sure you’re still in control of your career’ particularly if you’re already signed to an independent label. Aussie fans have seen their fair share of local talent left burnt out after massive worldwide commitments. Despite GROUPLOVE ‘still learning how to do it’, Hooper assures that even if young artists feel pressure to submit to unrelenting schedules – they need to stop and put their own wellbeing first.
The group’s third album Big Mess (2016) introduced tracks like ‘Remember That Night’ that saw Hannah ‘start to show her fire’ (according to Christian Zucconi, lead singer and Hooper’s husband). It will be interesting to see whether GROUPLOVE‘s impending fourth album will take a more spiritual turn. Hooper admired the group’s progression; not only as a band, or even as songwriters – but as friends. I, for one, am confident that the fourth album – currently in writing – will bring fans even closer together through the group’s enlightened sense of camaraderie,
… rather than just writing songs, we’re really writing from personal experiences now on just a whole other level.
No word yet on a release date for their forthcoming album but, as per usual, we’ll keep an ear to the ground for you guys! In the meantime, I’ll just sit here super-kicking myself for not asking Hannah to lend me her Vince Noir-esque mirror-ball suit for Mountain Sounds – but if I can time my festival entrance to another GROUPLOVE anthem then I’ll be one happy duck.