Interview: The Rapture

As the century turned, it became apparent that dance and rock music were fusing with each other like long lost incestuous siblings. At the centre of the post-punk disco revival were New York-based band The Rapture. After catching the ears of critics and hype-sters everywhere with their energetic mix of pop, punk, acid house, disco and electronica, they went on to share stages with burgeoning acts such as Franz Ferdinand, Interpol, Mogwai and The Cure. Back from a brief hiatus after 2006’s Paul Epworth, Ewan Pearson and Danger Mouse-produced Pieces of the People We Love, The Rapture are ready to retake dance rock with their high-anticipated yet-untitled new album (recorded in Paris). JUICE gets on phone with Gabriel Andruzzi (keyboards, saxophone, percussion, vocals) and before you can say “whoo-alright-yeah”, he reaffirms our faith in the band.

Image Heineken Green Room

Hey Gabriel, sounds like a party in the background. Where are you now?
Well it’s 11pm. I’m at a show watching some friends play music. It’s a little loud but I’ll do my best to hear you.

A little loud? Sounds like the end of the world back there! So do you think all hell’s gonna break loose a couple of years from now, like in the movie 2012 ?
I have no idea if the world will end or not. I just try to be happy on a daily basis.

We’ll definitely see another Rapture album before that won’t we?
We just finished recording an album and we’re about 2 songs away from getting it mixed, then we’ll be mastering it in about 3 to 4 weeks. It’s pretty much ready to come out.

So what have you guys really been doing for the past 4 years apart from playing shows?
We kinda stop touring for Pieces of the People We Love about 2 and half years ago. Right around then, we started writing the record that we’ve finally recorded. But it’s been quite hectic to be honest. We weren’t a very happy band and we ended up losing a member. But the past few years have been great. We get along and we’re really happy with the music we’re making.

The Rapture were considered one of the forerunners of the early noughties post-punk dance revival. At the time when you joined the band in 2002, did it seem like a big deal?

Not really. I saw The Rapture play before they asked me to join. For me, the whole idea of being post-punk was hilarious. In the American underground there were tonnes of post-punk and post-hardcore bands. I was very familiar with it. And people were saying “The Rapture were imitating or derivative or inspired by…” So I thought it was very funny personally. I didn’t take it as a big deal. But I did recognise that The Rapture being special in other ways like having a lot of personality and charisma and energy that a lot of other bands didn’t have. And at the same time, I like being able to write songs that could be pop songs that also could appeal to people in clubs… The hype doesn’t matter as much as the feeling you get from the music.

What other band would you have joined if it weren’t for The Rapture?
I would like to be in the Philip Glass Ensemble.

What do you think of newer, hip indie dance acts like MGMT, Little Boots or The Editors?
I don’t really follow all of it. I think they’ve all written some nice songs. I like some songs off the last MGMT record. To be honest, I haven’t heard their new record. I’ve been listening to music and going to shows for over 20 years. And I started playing music and being in bands when I was very young. So I’m not like super up on what everybody’s doing all the time. But I like MGMT. Those guys are really great musicians who are inspired.

Critics say that MGMT’s Congratulations is a move away from the electronic pop sound that made them popular in the first place. Would you say that your new album is headed in the same direction?
No. I think we’re doing very different things. We (us and MGMT) are in very different places in our musical lives. There are some really good pop tunes on our album. I think MGMT’s first record, they kind of self-proclaimed that it was sort of a joke. They wanted to see if they could write pop songs, and they didn’t really care. And I think for their new record, they put a lot more thought and heart into it. For us, our new record is all about heart and feeling in a band. But at the same time there’s a lot of pop music in our hearts and a lot of weird music too. So there’s a little of everything on our new record.

The Rapture once went through 5 keyboard players and 2 bassists in an 18-month period during its early days. Was it before you joined the band?

Oh yes, it was also before Matt (Safer) joined. This was like very early on, like the first year and half. Luke the singer used to be incredibly difficult to be around and he was a pain in the butt. And also part of it was because everybody was young and extremely volatile. The band moved around – I think they lived in 3 cities in the first year and half.

Were you guys riding a lot of magical dragons during those drifter years?
No. Maybe a lot of drinking. There’s never really been any big dragon problems with The Rapture.

What makes a good musician?
That’s a hard one… Being yourself and doing your thing. It’s like anything in life, you gotta do what you do. All the musicians that I like, they have their unique voice. And they pursue that… and if they’re scared of that, they still kinda fight against it. So you pursue your own voice and feeling with no fear… I think that’s what makes a good musician. Also, way before all of that, what makes a good musician is somebody who listens.

How do you feel about having a song as an anthem for Major League Soccer team – Red Bulls New York?
I think it’s totally lame personally. I’m probably the only person in the band who goes like, “Hey man, this is so stupid. Like, don’t you think soccer in America is a f*cking joke? Like, do I really care?” But (ex-bassist) Matt and the other guys too were big sports fans. And Matt was a huge soccer fan. You know, people don’t really care about that sport in America. If it was baseball or football or basketball, then it’d have been a whole different story. And I’m not knocking soccer as a sport. I’m just saying in America, it’s not a big deal.

We spoke earlier about the apocalypse. What bothers you the most about the world today?
Oh God, that’s really hard… I don’t know if I can answer that…

It’s a downer, ain’t it?
Well I guess on a daily basis people can be very protective, rude and cruel out of fear. And I think there are a lot of people who are scared of life and other people. It sounds very cheesy, sorta nu-agey and psycho-analytical. But I think a lot people operate out of fear.

New York City’s a melting pot of culture. Where does The Rapture fit into that equation?

I don’t think were really active anymore in NYC culture. I think where we fit in now is that we’re all people who love culture, art and music. We don’t draw any particular boundaries. So for us NYC is an inspiration to us. We just take a lot of inspiration from the streets, the radio, the people. You can see and hear anything on any given night of the week here and that’s exciting. There’s almost too much to choose from in New York.

Lastly, just cause my name is Ben, I’d like to know the meaning of the song ‘No Sex For Ben’?
Well Ben Ryhmer is a friend of ours who’s English. And it just kinda came from a story where his now-wife, who I guess then was his girlfriend, said “there would be no sex for you tonight” because he was getting too drunk and being silly. So we just kinda wrote a humourous song about him not having sex.

Is that a valid reason not to have sex?
For Ben Ryhmer? I can’t really tell. It’s sort of a nonsense song, like the equivalent to ‘Tutti Frutti’.

Except he doesn’t get “a whop bop-a-lu” or “a whop bam boo” at the end.

The Rapture will descend to Heineken Green Room @ KL Live on 31 July 2010. For more info, visit www.greenroom.com.my. Listen to The Rapture at www.myspace.com/therapture.

Image Heineken Music