Not to ruin it for you, but Grouplove didn’t actually travel to North Korea to shoot the video for their new single, “Ways To Go” — in which they inspire kid Kim Jong-un to don a Hawaiian shirt and dance his tiny dictatorial derriere off — but they would have.
“Nah, we shot it in this crazy house in Malibu, the Villa Leon, that’s kind of defunct and falling apart, but they let us run around inside,” frontman Christian Zucconi said. “But now that you bring it up, that probably would have been a good idea.”
Don’t worry; the lack of authenticity doesn’t dampen the effervescent energy of the video, or the song, in the slightest. “Ways To Go” is shiny, sunny and seems destined to dominate summer pop playlists, and the video’s a total treat (try not to crack a smile while watching it) … so even if they didn’t pull a Dennis Rodman and head to the DPRK to make it, well, that doesn’t really matter all that much.
“You know, people watch videos on their phones now; they have to be bright and bold for people to pay attention,” vocalists Hannah Hooper said. “For people to enjoy something something super beautiful, I feel like takes a joint and a screen.”
Both of those seem required to enjoy Grouplove’s upcoming Spreading Rumours album, too … it’s full of the kind of wide-eyed, wonky pop experiments that fans fell in love with on songs like “Tongue Tied” and “Colours” (from their 2011 debut, Never Trust a Happy Song), only pushed to new, wide-screen expanses. There’s a warm, downright communal sense of celebration to the majority of it, too, which makes sense, considering where the band wrote it.
“We lived together in a house in Hollywood, it was like folding a bus together in half, it was like ‘This was a terrible idea,’” Hooper laughed. “No, it was actually incredible; we got to focus on writing music, and if we partied, it was in the house, if we were creative, it was in the house, if we slept in the house … we wrote a lot of music there, we wrote two albums.”
And that’s pretty amazing, since they seemed to spend a whole lot of time doing anything but making music while living together.
“It was an old Motown house, like, the Jackson 5 used to be there, and Diana Ross, and right up the hill, the house above our house was where John and Ringo of the Beatles first took acid,” Zucconi explained. “So we would be taking a lot of acid at the house, watching the balcony, and couldn’t imagine that the Beatles were up there. [Producer/drummer] Ryan [Rabin] would get naked a lot and run up the fence, and pretend he was Ringo. One night he actually got stuck on the fence, and it literally took us two hours to peel him off of it.”