The day Grouplove released their Grammy-nominated fourth studio album HEALER, the world effectively shut down. Their epic album release party was canceled, TV performances were cut, and the headline tour was postponed. Almost a year to the day, the band is back to give us a fresh and timely surprise new album, This Is This.
We got to sit down with Hannah Hooper, Christian Zucconi, and Daniel Gleason of Grouplove to discuss life during the lockdown, channeling their emotions into music, virtual shows, and the making of their new album.
What have you been up to in quarantine?
Hannah: Really just writing an album!
What was the process of writing and producing it during a lockdown?
Christian: Hannah and I were living in LA, Dan was living in Atlanta, and all the guys were just spread out. We hadn’t really seen each other since last March and then it was October and we were like, “guys I miss you so much, let’s get together.” We all went to Atlanta because Dan has a studio there and made an album to get all this out in the music.
Your previous album, HEALER, came out the day things shut down. What was the process of canceling everything for that?
Hannah: The day of shutdown was our album release party, so the world literally shut down when we had this rave with like 1,000 people invited to kick off our world tour. We were getting calls about the party being canceled and we were like, “What are you talking about? Could we have like 500 people?” Suddenly, it was a global pandemic and everything was getting shut down. To find that out, there was definitely some heavy depression at first. Eventually, we just decided to go record what we were feeling.
What is the inspiration for the album?
Hannah: I think the main inspiration is just like getting in touch with ourselves and the truest form of ourselves, whatever that means right now. That is what This Is This is. It’s us at our most vulnerable and our most honest.
Did the album feel different to make than your previous albums? What was the emotional process?
Daniel: Definitely depressing!
Hannah: We made it in nine days, nobody knew we were making it, not even the label. It was total privacy. We made it ourselves with no outside people coming in. It was honestly liberating and completely changed the way I want to record music forever. We did it in nine days and recorded mostly live.
Daniel: We didn’t overthink it. We allowed what happened in the room to be what made the record, which is the whole idea behind This Is This is that whatever happened when we stepped in that room, we allowed to be and we were searching for the source and the most honest experience and on the other side of it it feels like this is really what Grouplove is. When you strip away everything and get all the agents, managers, and labels out of the room and you throw us five in there, this is what we sound like.
Did you plan to make an album or did it feel like just making music?
Hannah: We, as a band, really didn’t have any expectations beyond just wanting to record this group of songs and it just turned into an album. Without the pressure of making an album, it felt like, “Oh yeah, we are artists and we are doing exactly what we should be” without the pressure of anything because no one knows we are making this.
Where did the title This Is This come from?
Hannah: We were going to call the album This Is the End, which, looking back, I’m glad we changed it. We were kind of fucked up and I was writing on the wall and I was going to write “This Is the End” but I accidentally wrote “This Is This” and we all stepped back and were like “Oh shit! This Is This!” That’s really how it came to be.
What is your favorite song on the album?
Daniel: The last time I listened, I think it was “Shout.” It really hit me in a totally different way than it ever had. This was a couple of nights ago, I was just listening through to reference something for a live show and that song revealed itself to me in a way it never had, which is funny since I’ve listened to it several times before
Christian: I think that’s my favorite song, too. Especially to play, I almost want to cry because it’s so emotional. I have the liberty to step back and not sing in some of these songs and it’s really cool to see Hannah step up. It’s just a really powerful song to be a part of.
Hannah: I think mine is “Primetime.” It just opens the album and it’s like, “Is there a chorus? What’s happening?” It feels like being in a dope vintage car with the windows down, it’s the best song to get things going.
How did you guys decide what order the songs were going to go in?
Christian: It told us. They were like secretly speaking to us. It was the easiest album we’ve ever made because it was just so honest and we didn’t second guess anything. It’s an album we have been trying to make our whole career and here it is.
Hannah: It’s crazy how when no one gets involved outside of the artists, it’s easy to stay close to the source. No one was there like, “This doesn’t sound like ‘Tongue Tied’!” The idea is that we are allowing ourselves to evolve. Regardless of how it does, it’s already the most successful thing we have ever made because it’s from the soul.
As the most sonically distinct song on the album, where did “Shake That Ass” come from?
Hannah: It just came out of nowhere. There was a period where the label was trying to get me to learn TikTok and there were just so many people shaking their ass on the app. Part of me was like “Hell yeah! Shake that ass!” and part of me was like “Why are you shaking that ass?” There is a sort of humor in the hook where I’m both agreeing and disagreeing at the same time.
What are the main musical influences on this album?
Hannah: The biggest influences were self-care, therapy, and whisky!
Daniel: It wasn’t really a talked-about thing, we never referenced other bands. We went into it trying to find out what we sound like and what the truest form of ourselves is. I think when you take all the bullshit away, you really start to sound like the things that sparked your initial love of music, which for me was Nirvana. I think that’s why we are playing heavier, we love all that ’90s alternative grunge.
One of your most famous songs is “Tongue Tied.” Has it been a weird process trying to get away from that more pop sound that some fans expect?
Hannah: I feel like that song isn’t our song anymore. We love the song but now it’s become people’s graduation song, people lost their virginity to this song, people listened to this song at their wedding. In the most exciting way, this really isn’t our song anymore. We wrote it at a very specific moment in our career and now we are writing a different song. That was us 12 years ago and now this is this.
Christian: I think true fans will love this album because there have always been heavier songs on all our albums, even “Colours,” which came out before “Tongue Tied.” We have been foreshadowing this album for a long time. We have always wanted to make an album like this, even back then, but as success came with “Tongue Tied” it put us in a different lane than we expected to be in.
What has quarantine taught you?
Daniel: It stripped away all the things that you realize you don’t really need. Hannah was just saying this morning that she woke up to these self-care emails
Hannah: Yeah, it was all juice cleanses and yoga live streams! It was just the realization that we have commodified self-care, but self-care is actually self-love. That’s all that matters.
Christian: And to be honest and to express yourself honestly all the time, that’s what fuels you. These songs do that for us.
What’s your go-to car song?
Hannah: Go-to car song is The Lion King when we are driving with our kid.