peace & grouplove
Hannah, Christian, Andrew, Ryan and Sean are in the coolest band we know. Their rainbow hair and feel-good flair makes everything brighter, lighter, and way more fun than it should be.
Grouplove by Bella Howard
Having met at an artist commune in a tiny Grecian mountain village, they hit it off pretty much right away. Childhood friends from Cali, Ryan (handsome soul-patched drummer) and Andrew (most righteous guitarist) found Hannah and Christian (lovers, vocalists and players of keys/gee-tar) wandering the streets. They soon stumbled upon bassist Sean, who sadly couldn't make the interview, but who we've been assured brings a refreshing touch of bearded Brit to the group. Jams were jammed, songs were sung and the five were soon on their way to forming the Grouplove we love today. In town for a couple of sell-out shows, the dreamers swung by i-D HQ to discuss doing acid, getting tattoos and recording their forthcoming second album, Spreading Rumours. We wanna be in your group, love.
Do you guys remember your first impressions of each another?
Andrew: Yeah, we actually just went back to Greece and I walked by the narrow street where I first saw Hannah and Christian. I remember thinking 'fuck, they look like the craziest crackheads I've ever seen in my life!' They had just taken a 25 hour trip and they looked pretty crazy. Ryan and I were really young when we met so I don't remember what I thought of him. But we all ended up in this crazy artist commune where everyone was fucking weird and the rest of the village were like 80 years old. So seeing those two, I figured they were probably in the commune too. We were up in the hills, away from everything, so I figured they weren't just wandering around.
Hannah: Yeah, I was like 'who's this surfer dude?!'
Ryan: I was really annoyed when I arrived in town because Andrew didn't pick me up from the airport so I had no idea where to go or what to do. So I was just waiting at the airport and finally got a call from some guy on Andrew's cellphone, while he was busy surfing and not picking me up. I was in a bad mood when he finally picked me up and demanded he took me to a shower. The only shower was a cold one on the roof of the building, so I remember I was in a really bad mood when I met everyone but I had to pretend be cool about everything. By the way, the village was one of those places that's just so beautiful and rustic and full of the most incredible experiences.
Christian: I remember when I met Sean I thought he was probably the whitest person I'd ever seen in my life, but one of the coolest guys too. On the first Friday we all met in this dude's garden and passed the guitar around and everyone got to know each other through their music. Sean and I really bonded over early '90s grunge music.
What do you think you'd all be doing now if you hadn't met?
Hannah: Painting. Definitely.
Christian: I don't know… I'd be lost and depressed in New York.
Andrew: I'd like to be making sauces. I kinda want everything to be mayonnaise-based though.
What's it like being on tour with GL?
Hannah: Stinky. We've been touring for so long now that it's our life and we have almost no concept of any other lifestyle. Sometimes we're in reading zones, sometimes writing zones, sometimes not-talking-to-each-other zones. It's seasonal.
Ryan: I'm sure from the outside looking in it would be weird to see how we manage the relationships when we're living literally next to each other for months on end.
Hannah: In a moving hallway of stacked boxes. Do you have roomates? It's essentially that, but you work with them too, and you're rolling down a highway. We can't get away from each other, but if we did there'd be nowhere to go. We've committed ourselves to this so much that we've almost let go of everything else and just have this beautiful yet sad dynamic. I guess it depends on how you look at it and it usually changes from day to day. Sometimes you're like, fuccccckk… and sometimes it's the best.
Ryan: It sucks when you have to be totally addicted to melatonin as you're like, catching air off your bunk, going down a highway.
Christian: I was having trouble falling asleep last night and I was like 'wait a minute, we're in London right now doing our music. This is so tight!'
Is there something you always like to do in London?
Hannah: What's the bar that I wrote graffiti outside of?
Christian: The Lexington
Hannah: Yeah, we spent quite a bit of time in The Lexington. Ginglik in Shepherd's Bush too - the old toilets.
Andrew: It feels really great to be here.
Hannah: The city is just so special, architecturally. I still never know where we are though… Kensington? Kingslington? Islington? I don't know, but it's so beautiful and there are so many little nooks and crannies and alleys and crazy stories everywhere because there's such a history… and everything is still standing! Sometimes Ryan pretends he's British. He's like, 'I want two teas and four sugars, love!'
Christian: Did you see the way we got here? It was the craziest way? It was by the Royal Albert Hall. It's such a crazy city, man. It reminds me of New York.
Ryan: I'm from LA, and like, just a really overlooked monument here would be the centrepiece of our city. But you guys have it everywhere.
Hannah: We gotta shout out Jamie who was our runner for a few days here. He went to drama school and he would drive us from our hotel to the venues, and as we drove through London he would change his accent as we went through the different neighbourhoods. It was hilarious.
Christian: "If you can wake up and you can hear the Bow church bells then you're technically a cockney and probably support West Ham."
When you recorded Spreading Rumours, you guys stayed in a house that lots of legendary artists have recorded in before. Did you feel good music vibes?
Ryan: I was definitely channelling Michael Jackson. It was an old motown house that the Jacksons had stayed in.
Christian: Diana Ross and a bunch of others stayed there too. George and John forced Ringo and Paul to take acid for the first time in that house too, so it was really cool to have such a legacy of music around us. It definitely seeped into the music.
Andrew: Christian forced me to take acid while we were there too…
Hannah: But it wasn't his first time… and you weren't really forced. It was more like 'Andrew, do you want some acid?' 'Okay'. We wrote sooo many songs there. It was just a really creative and funny time. I just totally became aware that we were family. We didn't see anyone else but food delivery guys and maybe a drug dealer or two.
Ryan: I think we were very lucky to be able to do that as a band. The first album we did in my apartment in downtown LA. We'd played maybe like five shows at that point and didn't really have any other recording experience. But this was somewhere in between things I guess. It wasn't a crazy posh studio on Sunset BLVD, it was an unknown studio that just happened to be legendary. The first album did well enough for us to be left alone to get on with it.
Hannah: Cause if the label had stopped by… they'd have been weirded out. We needed to get weird though. We needed to get to know each other off the road.
Christian: I was super anxious to go from the road straight into the studio. We're around each other so much and we love each other so much that it made both the experience and the songs really cool.
What's your preferred song writing method?
Ryan: Lots of red wine and marijuana.
Christian: There was a lot of marijuana in this record.
Hannah: There's no technique, no process… but I think that's really nice.
Ryan: I think literally 6 nights a week we were up until 6 in the morning playing songs. Even if we tried to watch a movie or something, it just didn't happen. If you wanted to go to sleep, there were no solid walls in the house basically so if you were trying to sleep and someone was playing piano in the living room, it just wouldn't work. You'd get sucked into the creativity.
Do you have a favourite song from the album?
Christian: It switches a lot but I'm With You, the first track is probably one of the favourites. I really like performing Raspberry too.
Hannah: I like Borderlines and Aliens.
Andrew: I'm With You live but listening through I probably like the last track, Save The Party the best. But it changes.
Ryan: Yeah, whatever goes off the hardest live really.
Have you ever spread a rumour about anyone?
Christian: I tried to ruin this kid's reputation in middle school by spreading rumours. Then I went to church and repented for it. I don't remember what I did… I think I must have been jealous of him.
Hannah: I didn't know you went to church?!
It's all coming out!
Christian: I went to church later in my life… I got my confirmation in like 8th grade or something. I guess my mom felt guilty cause she was super Irish Catholic and she went all the time. She felt like she was letting her deceased parents down by not bringing me up Catholic. That was the only bad rumour I did… but the album title is supposed to be like, the songs. We did everything live and for the last three years, we've become known for our strong live set so people seem to spread the word to their friends.
Does everyone have the Grouplove 'GROUP' tattoo by the way?
Christian: Almost everyone…
Who's yet to get one?
*all point at Ryan*
How come? Are you scared?
Ryan: I got a tattoo when I was 18 in a really painful place and didn't want to get another one.
Hannah: at least you don't have a Bruno Mars tattoo… I have MARS on my finger and everyone thinks it's for Bruno Mars.
Andrew: The O is coloured in, like a full moon…
Hannah: We went to this crazy full moon party in Crete.
Christian: It was in this old church cave that was like 4,000 years old and supposedly where Icarus built his wings…
Hannah: There was this place with a water drip, and if it drips on you you're the chosen one or something.
And did it drip on you?
Hannah: It dripped on both of us, but we were so stoned and we thought it was so incredible.
Ryan: I thought it dripped on me too but it turned out it was just Andrew peeing…
Hannah: Wow… yeah, don't pee in caves.
Ryan: It's too splattery… anyway, this is a nice lead into the article.
Hannah: I peed on a copcar once!
Really? Did you stand on the hood?
Hannah: Yup, stood on the hood. It was so splattery and loud.
Ryan: This turned really gross, really quickly.
You started it! So basically, you need to get that tattoo…
Andrew: We've been trying to break him into it for four years and we're hoping it's nothing to do with a lack of commitment.
Ryan: Yeah, I'm just scared of getting a tattoo.
Hannah: I'll get one with you!
Christian: Yeah, I'm down to get a tattoo today.
Andrew: Where's your GROUP tattoo?
I'm not in the group! If I was in the band I'd obviously get the tattoo.
Hannah: We're gonna have like a two line interview… 'The drummer doesn't have the tattoo.'
Yes. Which is your favourite music video ever?
Hannah: The one that sticks in my mind is Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun. Have you seen it? I remember seeing it as a young girl and just being like 'what the fuck?!' It was scary. Very psychedelic.
Ryan: Oh, Michael Jackson's Scream. Easy.
Andrew: I remember Marilyn Manson's videos terrifying me when I was younger.
Ryan: Tool videos are always really bizarre and scary too.
Andrew: Ryan, who's that guy who you had the DVD of?
Ryan: Oh, Spike Jonze?
Andrew: Yeah, his videos are always amazing.
A couple of your tracks have been featured on GIRLS. Are you fans?
Christian: I saw Tiny Furniture and I loved that. We're fans of Lena. She's very hands-on with everything she does, so she called up and was like she was just like "I want you to write a song for the soundtrack," so we wrote Everyone's Gonna Get High.
Hannah: I saw the first season when I was sick and I loved it. And then the next day and we got the phone call and it was crazy. I mean, she is her character. It was so psychedelic talking to her.
Do you have a favourite artist, Hannah?
Hannah: My favourite painter is Jenny Seville. She paints these huge portraits that are just really flesh-like and crazy. She's really inspiring.
Do any of you have secret skills? Hidden talents?
Andrew: I'm a surfer. I wanted to be a pro surfer as a kid. I used to travel and compete. It sounds really glamorous but if you're not right at the top then it's really not. I never really had the proper backing. My mom thought being a surfer meant I was just a pot-smoking loser. I only like surfing for myself. It's like you have the art too - music is so much more engaging and immediate but we have these things on the side.
Ryan: I can play a mean game of chess. My grandfather taught me when I was way younger.
Hannah: We've gotta get you a game in Washington Sq Park!
Ryan: No, those guys would kill me.
Hannah: Christian's a ridiculously good actor. He went to film school.
Christian: I did a lot of plays when I was a kid. That's what I always wanted to do when I was little.
What's the best role you've had?
Christian: I was in a short Edgar Allan Poe based film. I played this guy who has a haunted house and was super tripped out by the people staying there. I liked being creepy and scary. Something I do on tour is to research the places we go and try to find out the history of the buildings.
So you can impress everyone else?
Christian: Just to entertain myself. Like, if I know we're going to a certain area, just to try to tap into the spirit of it all. I like old photographs of places, like a street scene in London where you can see a before and after sort of thing.
Who do you think has the best hair in the band?
Andrew: Probably Hannah right now!
Hannah: I'm gonna say Andrew. He has great hair days all the time.
Andrew: It's when I stop washing it.
Does it start cleaning itself?
Hannah: Actually, I'm going to awkwardly take that back and award it to Sean, cause his hair continues onto his face in a very dramatic way. And there are great red moments, like at the tip of his beard.
Andrew: Ryan has white hair.
Hannah: Soul patch!
Ryan: Yeah, I have a white bit right here.
That's really cool. When did that appear?
Ryan: Ten years old.
Impressive. So what's the weirdest fan gift you've ever received?
Ryan: You know how those Japanese guys write your name on a grain of rice? This girl drew little microscopic lyrics that made the cover of the first album, which is a portrait that Hannah drew. There's a group of kids that kind of follow us around in the states.
Is it scary or awesome?
Ryan: They're all really sweet so it's awesome.
Hannah: We just get art and drugs - nothing scary.
What's on your rider?
Ryan: There's a lot of cereal on our rider.
Hannah: You ARE a cereal addict.
What's your favourite?
Ryan: Well I put Frosted Flakes on the rider cause I know everyone likes them but my favourites are Lucky Charms, Mini Wheets and Coco Pebbles.
Christian: Sean told us that you guys don't have Tony the Tiger saying 'they're greatttt!' he said the British version was Ben the Tiger saying 'they're good!' We believed him for a few years and then found out he was lying.
Yeah, that's a massive lie. Okay, final question. If you could have anyone join your band, who would you pick?
Andrew: Picasso would be fun!
Hannah: He was an asshole though. Touring would be hell. Maybe Tony the Tiger?
Ryan: He'd grab the mic at the end of a song and go 'THAT WAS GRRRRRREAT!'
Christian: Anyone new would make things weird though.
Hannah: Change the dynamic right?
Christian: I was gonna say Jimmy Hendrix, but then Andrew wouldn't have anything to do. Or Bjork, but then she'd sing all your parts Hannah.
Ryan: Doesn't Beck have like a general dancer/cowboy guy that's always on stage with him? That doesn't take away a role from anyone!
Hannah: Maybe a little cartoon bluejay. Aw, bambi would be cool. Bring bambi's mom back!
But how would she sit in the van?
Hannah: She could just lay there…
Ryan: She'd be in miniature.
Hannah: Maybe Garfield then.
Ryan: I think we have too much personality in this band as it is.
Text Francesca Dunn
Photography Bella Howard