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When Hannah Hooper invited her friend Christian Zucconi to join her at an artist colony on the Greek island of Crete, neither of them expected to meet three like-minded, fellow Americans—let alone musicians. But that's what happened when the duo met Andrew Wessen, Ryan Rabin and Sean Gadd during the summer of 2009. They became fast friends, and when the summer ended and everyone went their separate ways, there was a feeling that the bond forged could survive both distance and time apart. A year later, the quintet finally came together in Los Angeles, recorded an album and became the infectious, roaring force known as Grouplove.
Their second single, "Tongue Tied," propelled the band to heights that seemed far-fetched during that first jam session. Its fusion of indie rock and dance pop caught on with music listeners, landing the group a coveted spot on an iPod Touch commercial. The tune eventually reached the pinnacle on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart.
"It's kind of a weird, lucky kind of thing," Zucconi explains from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. "When we wrote the song, although we knew it was catchy and different, we never expected for anything like that to happen,"
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On the surface, the band couldn't have asked for anything more from "Tongue Tied." Their profile has grown to the point that they are headlining the same venues where they once opened for bands such as Florence + the Machine, Orange County's own Young the Giant, and, at the end of the month, No Doubt.
The mistake made by many bands who have had early successes is in trying to replicate what worked instead of having an eye on the future. Grouplove are confident in their ability to write original material that won't alienate their existing fan base, yet will continue to appeal to large audience.
"We're never looking to make a version 2.0 of a particular song," Zucconi says. "We're always trying to push ourselves and keep things fresh without having too many songs sounding alike [but that] can still have that mass appeal. But we don't think about what we're writing; we let it happen."
In a time when success can be measured by song placements and concert attendance, as well as albums sold, Grouplove have a lot to do if they're going to match the success of their first album, Never Trust a Happy Song. At the same time, they don't feel burdened by the pressures that arise with having a hit song. In fact, the singer says, they're willing to take risks they may not have been afforded without that triumph.
As their tour winds down and they prepare to head into the studio to begin work on their second album, Grouplove know how far they've come since that magical summer in Crete, which is something that isn't lost on them.
"It's hard to wrap your head around, especially since it seemed so far away from reality," Zucconi says. "There was something in the back our minds that when we met, we knew that there was something special. But when we actually did it, especially on a leap of faith . . . It's been both surprising and amazing to see how things have come together."
This article appeared in print as "What Happens in Crete Doesn't Stay in Crete: After meeting on the Greek isles, Grouplove's sound sticks together as well as they do."