As a matter of practicality, it’s important that the drums don’t overpower the vocals and guitars. So the singer stands front and centre, and is often perceived as the most important member of a group.
Changing this impression is Grouplove drummer, Ryan Rabin. Though still listed last on the band’s biography, he increases his significance by being the band’s producer.
“There are plenty of good drummers out there,” he says.
“I had to make use of myself in the band, otherwise I might have been left behind.”
Rabin, who grew up in a musical family – his father is Trevor Rabin – produced Grouplove’s successful debut album, Never Trust a Happy Song. The collection included their debut single Colours, hailed by Spin magazine as “one of the most infectious songs you’re bound to hear.”
Tongue Tied, the second single, was an even greater success, earning RIAA platinum certification for sales in excess of one million. The song spent three consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Alternative Airplay chart and by year’s end, had made history as Alternative radio’s second most-played song of 2012.
When asked why one should never trust a happy song, Rabin laughs: “You can like a happy song, but you can’t trust it. The energy of the song may be upbeat but there’s always an underlying tension or nostalgia. The themes in our music are more pensive, but still celebratory. That’s the great thing about songwriting.”
Rabin remains modest about his place in the band.
“Grouplove is made up of a group of friends, and our friendship comes first,” he says.
“We each play our roles, perform our duties and understand that it’s a collective effort. Hannah [vocals and keys], for instance, does all our artwork. We all have different interests and musical influences, and it’s the combination of those influences that makes Grouplove work.”
The band finds plenty of common ground in the studio, but Rabin admits that it’s impossible for them to agree on a playlist in the tour bus.
“I guess it’s our acceptance of those differences that makes us more open-minded in our approach to songwriting,” he says.
Grouplove’s second album, Spreading Rumours, was released last year and includes the single Ways To Go, which is already top 10 on the Alternative radio charts and climbing. In this latest offering, the band wanted to capture the same raw energy present in Never Trust A Happy Song.
“Writing a follow-up album is always challenging. They say you have your whole life to write your first album, and it’s true, I’d been working on many of those songs for years. The album was recorded in a room in my apartment and at the time, we didn’t even know we were making an album.
“This time around we had three months to go into studio and be creative. It felt a lot more forced, but we stuck to our early principles: have fun and keep an open mind. Anything else and our fans would have seen right through it.”