In 2008, painter Hannah Hooper moved from San Francisco to Brooklyn, where she scraped by on infrequent commissioned jobs. It was before she got her big artistic break — not with a brush, but with Grouplove, in front of a microphone.
Being in an unfamiliar place during some of the band’s first shows, the singer and keyboard player often hid behind a venetian carnival mask of her bandmate’s, vocalist guitarist Christian Zucconi.
“She was more comfortable in her own skin like this when we first started playing,” says Zucconi, who appears with Grouplove on Saturday at Live 105’s BFD.
Four years later, Grouplove has morphed from a group of five friends — Cooper, Zucconi, guitarist Andrew Wessen, drummer Ryan Rabin and bassist Sean Gadd — who bonded over campfires and guitars at a retreat in Crete, Greece, to a joyous quintet known for persistently upbeat melodies.
Before Grouplove’s musically enthusiastic, lyrically bittersweet 2011 debut, “Never Trust a Happy Song,” caught the attention of radio bigwigs with songs like “Colours” and “Tongue Tied,” there was nearly no band at all.
Although Hooper was getting by creating album art for bands like the Morning Benders and the Riverboat Gamblers, it wasn’t a great existence.
That’s when she was invited to attend a one-month residency for artists on the Greek island. Wessen, a Los Angeles native and surfer, brought his friend, drummer-producer Rabin. Another friend invited Gadd, a Londoner.
Two days before Hooper was to leave the country, she met Zucconi, a struggling musician and bartender.
“She was very funny and outgoing; she had this energy that I needed,” Zucconi says.
She took him to her studio and showed him her paintings and drawings. And he fell for her. Forty-eight hours later they flew to Crete together.
“We had this connection; if I hadn’t gone I would have been wondering about it forever,” he says.
In Greece, the five bonded. During the day, the musicians wrote songs and Hooper painted. In their free time, they rented mopeds and drove from their rustic mountain village to the beach, played their songs on guitars and ukuleles and shared meals at a tavern.
After a month, they parted, and Zucconi and Hooper began to perform together.
A year passed before the friends met up again, at Rabin’s home studio in Los Angeles, where a recording session commenced.
“It worked out so organically, we canceled our tickets back home,” Zucconi says.