An interview with Grumpy Plum: the world’s cutest band

Tallulah Swasey, Mattie Zanin, and Laurel Ila before their show at Mahall’s on April 2.
Credit: Alexis Figlar

Having met through Cleveland’s School of Rock, Laurel Ila, Mattie Zanin and Tallulah Swasey came together to make music, and somehow formed the perfect band. From playing the Brite Winter Festival in February, to releasing their new single, “but if im happy” in March, to playing Mahall’s in the beginning of April, their Cleveland-based band, amusingly named Grumpy Plum, has been booked and busy. 

Grumpy Plum is a band that creates what they describe as “slop-pop music.” In particular, they are classified as a bubble-grunge band. 

“Spotify likes to call it bubble-grunge, which I think describes us well,” Laurel explained. 

Bubble-grunge is a subgenre of alternative rock that combines elements of grunge, pop and punk rock. Grumpy Plum exemplifies this with not only their catchy melodies and upbeat rhythms, but also by incorporating guitar riffs and emotional lyrics. Two seemingly opposite genres, coming together in their music to create a fun and edgy sound.

“I think that we should always have a bubble machine going at all of our shows because that just makes sense for us,” Laurel added. “But then it’s also really heavy, you know?” 

For Grumpy Plum, mental health awareness and representation is very important.

“[It’s] a huge part in a lot of our songs,” Tallulah said. “It’s all about struggling with different things and getting through it with a positive swing on things.” Most of their songs are what they’d describe as, “super emotional.” Ultimately, for each of them, music means something different. 

Prior to being in Grumpy Plum, lead singer Tallulah spent her time playing solo acoustic sets. After noticing that people would talk during the sets, or not pay attention at all, Tallulah realized she wanted her voice to be heard.

“It kind of pissed me off a bit,” she said. Grumpy Plum, however, changed things for her.

“Part of the reason for me forming Grumpy Plum was like, I want to be loud and I want people to listen to what I have to say,” she added. Being in Grumpy Plum has made Tallulah feel like her words are worth being heard. 

For Mattie and Laurel, music gives them a voice in a different way.

“At least for Laurel and I, we don’t have to talk. We just use our instruments, and that’s our place to be outgoing,” Mattie said. 

Heading up the stairs at Mahall’s, you could hear the bass vibrating through the walls as you walked past people who were packed inside for the show. As the drumming got louder and the music started to play, the feeling of contentment was almost immediate. It’s a tradition for up-and-coming Cleveland artists to play at one of the many fun and artistic venues in this place. At that moment, the room was completely jam-packed, with some people  even lined up on the stairs in the hallway to hear the band play. 

People wanted to hear what they had to say.

After Covid-19, one of the biggest challenges they faced was getting people to come out to their shows every weekend. However, as their success continues to grow, the crowds they play for also grow, becoming larger than ever before—not just at their most recent show at Mahall’s, but at Brite Winter Festival earlier this year, too.

Collectively agreeing that this year’s Brite Winter Festival has been the best crowd they have ever played in front of, Grumpy Plum hopes to only grow from here and continue their successes all over. With their first full-length album on the way, they plan to embark on a mini-tour, hitting some spots in surrounding cities and states near Ohio. They’re always looking forward to their next show, explaining that in their own ways, performing is a stress-reliever.

“That’s the only time I don’t care how I look or that sort of thing. I don’t care and I can really be myself.” Tallulah said. 

Grumpy Plum is making their way to the top of Cleveland’s local music scene. Fostering fans from all over to sing the lyrics to their angsty songs, they will only continue to grow. So, when you’re streaming the world’s cutest band’s music, make sure you scream the lyrics loud. 

To support Grumpy Plum, follow their Instagram, stream their music and visit their website!