We caught up with a very humble and kind spirit, Dan Gleason from ‘Grouplove’, and talked about the band’s new record ‘Big Mess’, Jesse Owens, Kenneth Bone, Michael Jordan, and a movie he wants everyone to check out.
Independent Philly: How did the band come together and who came up with the name?
Dan Gleason: Probably six years ago in New York. Hannah [Hooper] was a painter, and Christian [Zucconi] was in a post punk band and she got an invitation to Greece and invited Christian. They had just kinda met previous to that. They met everyone else there. About three years ago I met them and fit right in, and from what I understand they kind of referred to themselves as The Group, but you couldn’t Google The Group, so they added love to the end. I think it was just a thrown together name, just like everything else in the band. They never intended to have it stick. Just kind of happened.
IP: If you had to change the band name right now, on the spot, what would you rename it?
DG: I don’t know man I think that’s the hardest thing. I think one of the worst parts about being in a band is naming it right, like how cheesy was The Beatles with the “a”? Bands names are never that cool. It never really matters as long the band’s cool.
IP: Ryan produced the last few Grouplove records himself, how did bringing in Phil Ek help to bring a new element to ‘Big Mess’?
DG: With Ryan a lot of times we spent time chasing initial inspiration and really being in the moment, with Phil it was more finding the right sound for it, it’s two different ways. I think we brought some of Phil’s ways to the Ryan sessions but Ryan’s so much more about the vibe in the room and if things are feeling good and flowing well. With Phil you’ll spend hours and hours finding the right sound for a guitar part or keys or whatever it may be, so I think Phil is just more methodical in the process and that’s good. There’s good in both ways. We learned a lot from Phil and tried to apply it in the back end of the record when we went to LA and did the second half with Ryan.
IP: Christian has a distinct voice, how do you balance his vocals with the melodic anthem like choruses, do you write the lyrics and then build the music around it or what is the songwriting process like?
DG: It sorta depends. It could be written around a single hook, or one us brings in a full song, or all of us in a room jamming, and someone plays a riff or chord progression that sparks something or just sounds good. There’s a song called “Spinning” that was just formed from Christian looping this guitar part and I started playing a bassline and from there it formed a song on the spot. There was a melody written but there wasn’t really lyrics written, so it was the last piece of the puzzle to be put in. So really just depends on what’s inspiring you in the moment. Sometimes it is a lyric or a drum beat.
IP: What can fans expect from the live show on this tour if they’ve never seen Grouplove in person before?
DG: A ton of energy. I don’t know if there has ever been a show where we really just phoned it in. I’m really proud of that; we give everything we have. I’m still recovering from the show from last night; I hope that doesn’t sound braggadocious. We go really hard and that’s an aspect I think we are all proud of. I grew up in the Michigan hardcore and punk scene and it was a badge of honor if you got done with a show and had nothing left if you had to lay down or take a minute to yourself and that’s how it feels with us. Honestly a lot of people tell us there are just good vibes in the room. I think that’s because we love what we do and are passionate about it. It’s hard to be bummed out when you have thousands of people singing back words that you wrote years ago. It’s a really good feeling. Christian says a lot of times “Yeah Grouplove is a band but Grouplove is the feeling in the room that happens when we play and the community and people losing themselves in the moment all at one time”.
IP: How do you feel about cell phones at shows?
DG: I’ve noticed it less on this tour which I think is a good thing. I get it, sometimes you want to remember a moment. You want to capture something that you can hopefully remember forever, but I definitely encourage people to keep those as memories and not spend too many minutes looking at screen and staying present in what’s going on in front of them, but it’s inevitable. That’s the age we live in. I’m not going to be the guy who’s telling everyone to get off my lawn. People pay their hard earned money to come to our show, and as long as their respectful of the people around them and the band on stage, they can do whatever they want as far as I’m concerned.
IP: If you could have witnessed any event throughout history, what it would be and why?
DG: Jesse Owens in the Berlin Olympics. I think that would have been pretty insane what he had to go through to win those gold medals and what that meant and standing up to those people in that way in Nazi Germany. I think it would be pretty special to be there at that moment.
IP: What do you do to cheer yourself up on or off tour?
DG: Andrew would say that he surfs. He’s a pretty avid surfer. Ryans always in the studio. I tend to go see movies a lot; I’m pretty constantly busy with music stuff too, but I really like to go see movies alone weirdly (laughs).
IP: What was the last movie you saw that you liked?
DG: It’s called ‘Don’t Think Twice’. It’s about this improv comedy group and one of them goes off to be successful. It’s really about struggling, being a struggling artist more than anything. It really just rings so true. There’s so many parallels to being a musician or being a writer or anything really. It was so well done just about how it can be such a struggle for so long and what it’s like to live through those moments and the self doubt that’s pervasive in that.
IP: Speaking of struggling artists how do you feel about streaming sites such as Spotify?
DG: As a music fan, I like the fact music is more available to people than it’s ever been and it’s right there. You type in your favorite band and you can listen to it. I think that’s great. I can’t blame people for using the people technology, that’s only to be expected, but if you really appreciate what people are doing and have to say it’s important that you find ways to support them so that they can continue and grow to be creative as possible so they can just focus on that, I think that really good ones deserve that. Our culture is better when art is very prevalent.
IP: I agree it’s very easy now with technology to lose the sense of craftsmanship and effort that was put into making the music because you’re not going through much effort to get to it. Halloween is coming up, what is your favorite costume you’ve used yourself or seen someone else use?
DG: I feel like I’m always on tour so it’s always lame, but we’ve all talked about dressing as Kenneth Bone, the guy from the second debate. Like, the whole band would dress as him, which I think would be great.
IP: Lastly tell us something about yourself or Grouplove as a whole that would surprise or even shock our readers?
DG: I’m obsessed with Michael Jordan. I probably have ten biographies and six movies. I tend to talk about him a lot. My favorite number is 23. I grew up in that era. I’ve never seen anyone be as good as him at something, and that was super inspiring to me. If I read a biography of him, I get so inspired to better at what I do, and I know that sounds so dorky but it’s the truth.
We look forward to seeing Grouplove at the Fillmore November 1, try not get tongue tied singing along with us!