Grouplove Discuss Maintaining Momentum on ‘Spreading Rumours,’ Learning From Famous Father
In 2011, Grouplove's 'Tongue Tied' was the second-biggest alternative radio hit of the year, right behind 'Somebody That I Used to Know,' Gotye's inescapable duet with Kimbra. The song was huge, and in the lead-up to their sophomore LP, 'Spreading Rumours.' the Los Angeles five-piece has shown drive and determination, not to mention a certain amount of savvy.
The album came out last week, and Grouplove are touring the country, just as they have consistently for years. Diffuser recently caught up with percussionist and producer Ryan Rabin and discussed the timeliness of their new record, as well as the drummer's famous father, Yes multi-instrumentalist Trevor Rabin.
'Spreading Rumours,' is out now, and it seems to be really good timing, as the debut took off after being out for a while. Sort of striking while the iron is hot.
It was less a marketing ploy or about releasing in a certain quarter or something, but more about is wanting to capitalize on our touring momentum for creativity. Contrary to the first album, we now had three years of constant touring under out belt, and as a band, we were just tighter and better as a unit. We'd been writing a lot more collaboratively, so I think mainly it was about not taking a long hiatus and losing any of that creative steam. I think we had five days off around Christmas, then we went right into the studio and started putting down the ideas in our head while they were still fresh.
Do you think it benefited from that approach? And can you tell us about the recording process in general?
It definitely helped us. We had that momentum and that tightness that only comes with playing a lot of shows. Any time you start a new tour, every musician will tell you they are kinda rusty in the beginning, but at that point, we had three years of practice. Also, we moved into a house in the Hollywood hills that had the studio at the house, so we all lived together like we were on tour. There was never really any creative downtime, and we all really lived and breathed the album. And I think it shows. It's a more diverse record. More so than our last one. I'm very proud of it.
You've been in bands before, and your father was a member of Yes. Have you been able to bring that experience to the other members of Grouplove -- particularly with your rigorous work schedule?
As far as the travel, it's a little different, because when my dad started in Yes, he basically came in and the band was already somewhat established. And when [1983's '90125'] came out, it was their biggest album, selling more than all their previous albums combined. So he really started with them at the top. At that point, the industry was different with money, so they were travelling in private jets to go to shows and playing in arenas, so it's not really the same experience.
Growing up, though, I learned a lot from him in terms of work ethic and musical training and rehearsal and working with other people and what to remember and concentrate on when performing. So, I think that stuff is very valuable. The also are just generally very supportive of the fact that I'm playing music. The rest of the band basically lived at my parents' house for our first two years of playing together. Everyone sort of dropped everything and moved to Los Angeles, and my parents house is where everyone stayed. So, they definitely are influential in us being a band and getting where we have.
Just from reading about you, it sounds like yours was far more stable than the typical rock 'n' roll family. Even the fact that your parents are still together is not necessarily the norm.
Definitely. Stable is not what someone would usually say about a rock 'n' roll family. At the same time, there was never any pressure to do anything musical, only support. Sometimes kids are pressured by their parents to do something that they did or they want them to do, and naturally you push back against it. But there was never anything like that.
You are on tour where you play two sets in each city, one acoustic and one electric. What is the inspiration behind it?
Well, the usual approach with this type of tour is to try and play bigger venues than the last one. Instead, we thought we should do something that would push and challenge ourselves. Our show is very energetic, and it is very amplified and electric. So we thought we could do something to showcase the songs at their most stripped-down, and doing two nights in each city at smaller venues. It gives the fans something different, and these places are so small that they are selling out in the first 10 minutes they are on sale. So we know the fans at these shows are big fans, and it is cool to give them something they haven't seen before. But the electric nights still rock.
You guys are based in L.A. and have had a really strong local support for the past few years. Now that you are becoming an national band, do you feel like you lose a connection to L.A., being away from it so often?
L.A. has seen a real resurgence in terms of the community feeling. There is a lot of support from other bands and a great number of venues, more toward the east side of L.A. that are always booking great shows and great bands. It's a place that has proved rewarding of hard work, and though we are from all different parts of the world originally, we definitely still consider ourselves an L.A. band.