Grouplove guitarist discusses rise to fame, fun on stage

To promote Grouplove’s current Campus Consciousness Tour, guitarist Andrew Wessen spoke over the phone with the Daily about the band’s past few years on the road. Grouplove will headline tonight’s Cage Rage performance.


The Tufts Daily: How does it feel to go from touring as an opening act to selling out your own shows in just a few years?


Andrew Wessen: We haven’t stopped touring for three years plus … We went to every city and played with a 200 capacity venue, you know, and then 400 or 500 or 700 and then 1,200. And we literally didn’t skip one notch. … We’re not doing arenas, we’re not doing amphitheaters, we’re doing small rooms, and we’re deserving of that. Another reason is, I think, [because] we have a really crazy live show … I think we are headliner-worthy because we really go for it on stage. We really are like wild caged animals on stage. We’re just roaring up there.


TD: The name of the show here is called Cage Rage — did you know that?


AW: Oh, no way. That’s perfect, that’s exactly what’s going on. We would open for some people and then people would come up to us and go, “Oh s–t, [your] band’s f–king mental.” And it should be fun — you’re playing music for a living. It’s about people coming together and getting weird together and forgetting about everything. It shouldn’t weigh you down at the end of the day.

TD: Would you say that you have a favorite part about your job?


AW: You meet amazing people who are like, “Oh, I used to cut myself, but [your music] got me to stop, and [now] I have a positivity about myself.” … [Others can] forget the power of music. I see it every night. It kind of takes your breath away sometimes.


TD: Would you say your new album, [“Spreading Rumors” (2013)] is very different from [your 2011 record, “Never Trust a Happy Song”]?


AW: We were able to record 80 percent or 90 percent of our tracks live. Last time, we were recording in an apartment, we just had one room for the drums in the basement and we couldn’t fit all five of us in the same room. So this time to get all of us in the same room, recording together … everything has this warm sound to it. [In terms of] sound, though? I think that it’s five musicians from all over, inspired by different music. … We get really bored by anything sounding the same.


TD: How would you describe your sound as a band?


AW: Best friends skydiving with a pocketful of weird objects, like rabbits’ feet and maybe some kind of saw blade. It’s just a bunch of creation with wild music that’s kind of carefree.


TD: Do you have any musical influences?


AW: My favorite guitarist of all time is George Harrison. He never played one fancy [riff]. He always played the right, perfect part every time.


TD: Were any of the members of Grouplove in bands beforehand or was this the first gig you all did?


AW: Christian [Zucconi] was in a band called Aloke. I was in a band that was so small that you couldn’t even find a frigging page on them, our name changed so many times … I think all of us [were in bands that] were really minor … but this is, for Hannah [Hooper], her first band, the lucky devil!


TD: So how do you feel about music outlets like Spotify or Pandora playing your music?


AW: Nowadays, I’m kind of resigned to the fact that I will never see a royalty check ever … [iTunes free download] helped a lot, and it brought [our single] “Colours” (2011) up [the charts] — we were like, “F–king go, ‘Colours!’” [When our other single “Tongue Tied” (2011) was featured in an iPod Touch advertisement] at first, I was like, “Commercial — hell no,” but then we did it. I think you have to do what the band [needs]. … When we were starting out we had no money and it really helped. … You can’t always expect people from the get-go to just kind of buy something they don’t know.


TD: Do you have any wild plans for Grouplove in the near future?


AW: Well, you have the Bonnaroos and the Lollapaloozas, you know. Actually, funny story about that, real quick. If you find pictures of [us at 2011’s Lollapalooza], it was a classic blunder. We brought our handmade backdrop, and they raised our little six foot by six foot backdrop and it was rolling in the wind. … But we’re going to Japan again and Australia again, New Zealand is there, and there will be this huge global festival, too.


This interview has been edited and abridged from its original version.