It was love at first sight when Hannah Hooper met Christian Zucconi at a gig in Manhattan seven years ago. The duo left everything behind for an artist’s residency on the Greek island of Crete, where they met the people who would help them form indie pop band Grouplove. This year, they released their third album, Big Mess, after a year-and-a-half-long break from touring. The Daily Texan spoke with frontman Christian Zucconi about their latest album and his chemistry with Hooper.
The Daily Texan: How did the process of making Big Mess start?
Christian Zucconi: We had just gotten home after years of touring and felt displaced. We just felt like we needed to get to know each other off the road and get to know ourselves as artists again. [Making Big Mess] brought us closer to our true selves, which is what we needed. You don’t have many other friends, you don’t get to see your family. It’s kind of isolating. Our dreams, our lives didn’t feel right. It felt like a giant big mess and these songs just helped us get through that.
DT: What do you hope the album does for its listeners?
CZ: I just hope people can lose themselves in the music and identify with the songs and feel better when they’re listening to it. It could be a form of therapy. Whether it makes them laugh or cry, we just want people to experience heightened emotions when they’re listening to it to get through their day. That’s why we write and why we perform: so they can have this album to experience life with.
DT: How do you and Hannah complement each other when you’re making music?
CZ: We just kind of complete one another somehow. It’s this crazy thing where I’ll write a song and think it’s awesome, and Hannah will come in and she’ll just add a verse that I never would’ve come up with. It’s true collaboration.
That’s how it is with the band, too. We don’t have a process, but when our minds get together we influence each other and make Grouplove songs.
DT: Your daughter Willa has been one of the biggest changes for the band. How did she inspire you throughout the writing process?
CZ: When we wrote the album, Hannah was pregnant, so songs like “Traumatized,” “Welcome to Your Life,” “Enlighten Me,” “Heart of Mine” — all of them are influenced by Willa and the fact that she was coming. It put us in this whole new mind frame.
DT: You guys are extremely involved with your work from the set design, to the songwriting and designing the merch. What impact do you think that has on your audience?
CZ: It’s just authentic, and it feels more real. We just feel, in the world today, there’s a lot of inauthentic things out there … we just want to present the real deal. Whether people get it or not, we pride ourselves on being authentic in our art. I think our audience and our fans get it and feel how balls-to-the-wall, energetic and cathartic and real we are.
DT: I’ve heard Hannah’s account of how you guys met. What was it like from your perspective? What made you say yes to going to Crete with someone you had just met?
CZ: Meeting Hannah was the best thing that ever happened to me. She changed my life. She had such an amazing, radiant energy when I met her. I never laughed as much before with anyone else. She was just enlightening to be around. When I heard she was a painter, I got nervous. I liked her so much, I just wanted it to be good. When I saw it, I knew right then and there she was the real deal. I had to say yes. We were struggling in New York trying to make it as artists, and it just felt like a no-brainer to go out there together. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. We fell in love in Greece and the rest is history. It changed our lives forever.