We had a chat with Andrew Wessen, one fifth of the American indie muso, Grouplove, about the Australian leg of their tour, what gets him out of bed in the morning and his fascination with Australian’s obsession with poached eggs.
We also hear about a book that has inspired him creatively, the favourite thing about his home town and the story behind their new single 'Remember That Night.'
Hi Andrew, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today.
Ah, I meant to say “my pleasure” but kind of ended up saying “no worries.” Hahaha. I’m sorry, my Pleasure!
Hahaha, this is a great start. Well, you’ve only just landed in the country, so maybe we can blame jet lag?
Well we’ve been in the country for 5-6 days now…so jet lag is kind of a sad excuse, isn’t it? It’s like, “Awww, you poor thing, are you travelling to much? Ridiculous. The shit that I hear bands complaining about sometimes, I’m just like shut up!
Who makes up Grouplove?
Grouplove is more than just the band, it’s everyone that’s there in the audience. They make the whole experience. We’re a really tight knit unit but it’s way beyond the members of the band. When you’re in the room, feeling the give and take with the audience, that’s really what it’s all about.
[Hannah Hooper (vocals, keyboards), Christian Zucconi (vocals, guitar), Sean Gadd (bass), Andrew Wessen (guitar, vocals), and Ryan Rabin (drums).]
If you had to describe Grouplove’s vibe in just three words, what would they be?
Strong, black coffee.
…and what’s the story behind your band’s name, Grouplove?
We were in Greece and met at an arts commune in 2008. We became ‘the group’ and we’d hang out all the time and be like, “it’s The Group,” so that kind of just stuck. When the band started back in LA Grouplove seemed to be a more fitting band name. I love the name, we’re still so happy about it.
It’s crazy to think that we recorded our first EP in 2009. I feel like a fucking ancient artefact now.
Can you tell us a little bit about your most recent single, Remember that Night?
Hannah wrote the lyrics, so I’d only be speculating. But I’d say it’s about being in an abyss of love, falling in love, believing that nothing will ever change and then ultimately, like so many times in our lives, there’s love lost. That’s the sentiment of the song.
It was a fun song to make because we got it out right away. Sometimes when you finally get around to putting out your record, you’ve moved on, sonically and mentally, beyond that record, you know? It’s not that you dislike it, but you’ve already moved on to the next thing. But with Remember that Night we worked on it, recorded in the week and then put it out a couple of months later. As a band, it was great to hasten that process which is normally so languid and drawn out.
You’ve recently landed on our Australian shores, kicking off in Melbourne. What’s your favourite thing about Australian culture?
I love it here in Melbourne. I’m super broke now but I’ve had the best food of my life. Every meal is just so decadent and psycho here – everything has poached eggs on it. It’s like, banana ice-cream, with poached eggs! Holy shit, sometimes I just wanna eat a piece of fruit but I’ve gotta have this six course, decadent hollandaise meal.
It’s cliché to say but Australian people are some of my favourite people in the world. The connection that we make with the audience here is very special. Our music just translates here. It was the first place where we signed, we were as big here as we were in the US. There’s always been a special connection with Australia.
"I love it here in Melbourne. I’m super broke now but I’ve had the best food of my life. Every meal is just so decadent and psycho here – everything has poached eggs on it."
It’s easy living. I come here and I just feel so at home. I don’t feel like I’m out of place here, some places are hard to place yourself in but I have an interesting connection with Australia.
And what’s your favourite thing about your home town?
I lived in Venice Beach for 13 years and I just moved into a little town called Oxnard and what I like about that town is you can go to a bar and get five cocktails for $19. I live a block away from the beach and I get really good waves there. I love it because it’s full of ‘real’ people, it’s like what Venice Beach used to be 10 or 12 years ago. I moved up there not knowing anyone though, so I’m still working that out. If you keep doing the same shit, how do you expect anything to change?
Other than through your music, what do you do to keep your creative tank filled to the brim?
Writing music still gets me out of bed in the morning. Any time I see a show offer or a tour plan, I literally still get so excited. It’s never a chore. Maybe we’re just lucky? I feel like a lot of bands that we talk to, who’ve been together for a long time, find it’s a bit of a chore. If you have to be coerced into making music and playing shows, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. I’m just going to keep going for as long as I can.
Surfing also keeps me stoked on life and healthy.
What’s the last thing that made you angry?
I got a tattoo yesterday and my girlfriend said that it kind of ruined the other tattoo next to it and I got really pissed. We had like a mini fight, then we have breakfast and it was fine.
Did you have poached eggs?
It literally was poached eggs! With some crazy, mushroom truffle thing. I don’t even know man…it was insane. So good.
What’s the best song to listen to when you’re feeling sorry for yourself?
Anything by Elliot Smith. I used to deliberately put on XO or Figure 8 and just think to myself, “Whyyy meeee?” Even though nothing was really wrong…
Ha, was it raining too?
It's never raining in LA, so I’d just have a guy next door spraying a hose or something…
What was the last book you read that inspired you?
I read Marina Abramovic’s Walk Through Walls, a couple of months ago and that was so awesome. It blew my mind because she looks at performing in such an interesting way – she uses space in such an interesting way. It was trippy to think about how her performance art relates to music, you have that time on stage to do as you please in a way.
One time, she laid out all these fucked up things like, knives, guns a bullet and then said to the audience “do whatever you want over the next four hours.” She literally almost got killed. A dude put a bullet into the gun and they had to stop it. As an artist you have that space and you can do as you please, so what are you going to do? That same text book shit or are you going to mix it up? That was a really cool book.
Now, I’m reading Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis. I moved up to Oxnard and there was this old theatre there and someone told me that the Californication demos were recorded there. I was like, what the hell? No one comes to Oxnard, it’s a fucking cow town. So, I thought it should read the book.
Final question, what’s the last song that made your heart thump with excitement?
We all just got a tattoo of our future album on our arm, this sounds so cliché but I was faded on edibles the other day and I was listening to the demos and I got really fucking fired up. I felt like a teenager, I was so excited. We’re about to record our next record this Summer, so your Winter, and I’m just so excited. The song we’re playing at the moment is called, This Is The End. Like, you’ll put this in the interview and everyone will be like, “Cool, we can’t fucking find it…awesome,” but we’re working on it.
Grouplove are performing at Mountain Sounds, Kariong, on 17th February. Tickets available here.