Good fortune and spontaneity seem necessary parts of the back-story of so many of music’s classic acts. If Lennon’s shambolic skiffle group hadn’t bumped heads with a 15-year-old Paul McCartney in late 50s Liverpool, for example, and Brian Epstein hadn’t later rather haphazardly chosen The Beatles as his play thing, modern music might have gone down an entirely different path. You can apply to many facets of life: sheer good fortune is simply a necessary part of almost any burgeoning tale. Of all the unlikely backstories, though, GROUPLOVE’s chance encounter sits alongside Girls tales of controlling cults and musical escapism as one of the most serendipitous in modern music; not so much ‘Sliding Doors’ as a random encounter of the monkeys/ typewriters kind.
It all started when prolific singer-songwriter Christian Zucconi and abstract painter Hannah Hooper met after a performance from Christian’s former band ‘Pagoda’ in New York. Hannah tells us “We pretty much fell in love at first sight. On the very next day after we met, I was invited to go to Greece for a painting residency, and I just thought, this guy Christian is too special, I’m going to ask if he can come with me. Luckily he agreed.” The residency turned out to be a total shambles (“they told us to squat in a corner, there was one cold water shower and Sean had to sleep next to a dead cat” – Christian), but they befriended Ryan, (the son of Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin) who stumbled in from an exchange program in Prague to meet his best friend Andrew, and Sean, another musical minded resident. Christian and Hannah’s impulsive love story led to a happy summer with their new friends “We were spending hours riding around on scooters”, Hannah explains, “sitting on our own secret ivy-covered beach and writing music. It was very much a friendship thing, I started off drawing everyone and we slowly started humming and finally singing together. It was a very special experience.”
Ryan describes takes up the story: “It was a lot like a summer camp, basically, but with no running water, and a lot more rustic. We performed at the camp’s music festival before we left, but more as a group of friends than a band. It felt like Hannah arrived as an artist. She’s still an artist, but she also left as a musician.” Things had clearly clicked, but nevertheless, what would become GROUPLOVE headed their separate ways. That looked very much like the end, until a year later an LA reunion eventually led to a successful debut EP. “We wrote the EP on a reunion visit to Ryan’s in LA”, Christian explains. “Soon afterwards, Hannah and I sold everything we owned and moved out from New York.” The rest, as they say, is history. The way things have been going on the European festival circuit this summer, it’s threatening to be music history of quite some note.