Grouplove have two NYC shows this week, the first being tonight at Warsaw and the second being tomorrow at Hammerstein Ballroom. They’re also set to roll through the DC area at Echostage on Wednesday, so when given the chance to get caught up with Hannah Hooper over the phone a few weeks back, I decided to forego the traditional interview format and instead ask her a bunch of word associative questions based on the track titles from Big Mess. Check out her responses to all of those below, grab a copy of the record (out now on Atlantic) and be sure to catch at least one (if not all, who knows!) gig if you’re able. HERE WE GO:
Welcome to your new life as a parent! How have things been going with all of that?
It’s been awesome. It’s definitely been a totally new life; we just did our first night as a band and crew with our baby on the bus. I’m not sure if anyone slept, but it was really fun. [Laughs] She’s definitely going to have a super unique upbringing.
Who is someone you don’t love?
Oooh. Really? Someone I don’t love…I mean, I guess Taylor Swift? But you know what, let’s say Donald Trump. We’ve been talking so much about politics that I honestly can’t even think about it anymore. That’s the obvious one. I’m starting to actually tell people during our shows to vote, but not to vote for Donald Trump. It’s crazy, because I immediately think that all of the fans are Hillary Clinton fans, or at one point were Bernie fans who became Hillary fans, however that works, but I do occasionally hear some booing, and I’m like, dude, get out of here! Are you for real? [Laughs] It’s crazy.
You guys worked on the record in Seattle with Phil; is it as stereotypically rainy as everyone makes it out to be?
It was rainy, and it was so needed, because creativity for me normally comes in dramatic weather conditions, and it was really rainy there. I heard from a lot of locals that we were there during rainy season, though, and they say it rains more than it does to keep people out.
At this point in your career, what is the best or biggest thing you’ve learned, either about yourself, music, life, etc.; is there one thing that sticks out to you?
I mean, I have no control over my life. [Laughs] So what I’ve learned most is to just enjoy the present. I know it sounds kind of like a generic thing, but if you can do it, I’m learning to live that way more and more every day. And my life is so much richer because of it.
What does the ideal morning look like for you? (It might look a little different now that you have a kid as opposed to before!)
Yeah, the mornings are so much earlier now! It’s insane! But I wake up next to a baby (who still sleeps between me and Christian), and she is literally the happiest baby in the morning. She wakes up, pops up smiling. I definitely have never been a morning person, so it’s helpful to have that joy right there. It’s pretty awesome.
Does Grouplove work out? Any SoulCycle happening for you guys?
I mean, have you ever seen us play live? Our live shows are so athletic! I actually had some women come up to me who said, “You should put out an aerobic workout thing! You fucking get down during your shows!” I was like, “Oh…” because that’s just me moving with the music, but I guess for a lot of us there’s a lot of headbanging and jumping, and I guess there’s some lunges involved as well. So we work out onstage, which is a nice release, you know? It’s like two in one.
This made me think of a pool, which made me think of water, which made me think of how you guys are donating money to a clean water charity. How’d you pick that out of all the possible things?
You know what, first of all, it was one of the few charities that we saw giving a hundred percent of the proceeds directly to the source. You always want to follow the money first before you really get involved in a charity and make it public, and we also just liked the cause. The fact that we can help so many people directly through just ticket sales, and the fact that we can actually track directly where the money we raise is going, it’s a beautiful thing. And I think it helps to encourage fans to get involved.
What’s the most terrible thing that’s happened to you guys while on tour or during a show?
Wow. Well, we’ve had a lot of crazy things happen, from dangerous weather conditions that have cleared us off the stage to a pair of high-waisted jeans that split open while I was wearing them without underwear. (That was personally traumatic.) But we’ve had amps explode, we played a venue that caught on fire and we had to evacuate, so there’s just been a lot of stuff. It all adds to the story. [Laughs]
What (apart from the obvious) is filling up your heart today?
I guess excitement for this tour, and to see how people respond to this album. We just came back from Europe, and we did a little stint in Australia, but we haven’t really felt a response to America yet, so I’m just really excited to share this album with our fans.
I’m sure there have been setbacks along the way, but you’ve reached a certain level of notoriety at this point; what worked for you in terms of staying motivated and steady all this time?
Well, I think a lot of it is that we make music and artwork naturally, so there was never a business goal, so we’d be happy doing this on any scale, and I think that’s really why our band is achieving a certain level of success; it’s really coming from a pure place. Whether we’re playing to ten people or ten thousand people, we’d still be making the same work, if that makes sense.
What are the best and worst things about being at the level of success you’re at now?
Best thing is going with your gut; we’ve just been staying true to whatever we feel is Grouplove, and from the beginning we’ve made all our own art, our lights, our album art, our merch, our songs…everything you see, we do. So that’s awesome. That we have the ability to live and work and make and fulfill everything we want to do creatively. I guess the downfall is that there’s an element of privacy that’s lost. I mean, we’re not like Kanye West or anything by any means, but if we’re eating around a venue or going for a stroll on a day off in a certain city, there’s a level of privacy that’s kind of gone. It’s as exciting sometimes as it is frustrating, it just depends on the moment you’re in; it could be a total moment where you’re like, “We’re so excited to meet you, this is beautiful!” or it could be a moment where you’re having a frustrating phone call with your parents who you haven’t spoken to in weeks. You know what I mean? So there’s a give and a take with everything, and I’d say that this life and what’s happening to our band is much more exciting than it is anything negative.