The perma-cool New York label DFA Twitter-quipped that Harold Camping was not so much wrong about his prediction that the Rapture was coming – his estimations were just three months off. This September sees the return of a band that even the bravest prophet might not have bet on resurfacing. After the departure of bassist/vocalist Matty B Safer, an expired major label deal, and even LCD Soundsystem, that other sturdy pillar of New York dance-punk, calling time on the erstwhile movement, it seemed like the Rapture were in apocalypse mode. The Rapture’s trajectory had always been erratic. Their earliest releases, Mirror and Out of the Races, On To The Tracks, were ice-cold, frantic pieces of post-punk revival-ry – 2003’s Echoes was an almost-perfect distillation of their broad range of influences, spearheaded by the ubiquitous House Of Jealous Lovers. The influence of the record reverberated for years afterwards. One album that seemed strangely bereft of the Echoes influence, however, was their follow-up, the Paul Epworth, Ewan Pearson, and Danger Mouse-produced Pieces of the People We Love. A glossy, party-orientated record which featured the disco-lit Get Myself Into It, and the the Beasties-posturing, clunker-laden Whoo Allright… Yeah Uh-Huh (sample lyric: ‘She said your allegory is far too blunt/I said this ain’t no laboratory, you’re the c*nt’), the album wasn’t necessarily bad – we’d just come to expect more. After five years of sparse gig schedules and break-ups, a DFA-uploaded video surfaced of a freshly-cut, white-labelled record spinning on a turntable, with a new Rapture song, all house-piano, discordant sax, and distinctive shrieks, cut into its grooves. The good news? It’s the best thing they’ve ever released (even if the pre-chorus is somewhat redolent of Sisqo’s Thong Song). The better news? You can catch it live at this year’s Electric Picnic. The best news? We talked to saxophonist and cowbell-specialist Gabe Andruzzi about escaping the end times.
Is your How Deep Is Your Love going to become more definitive than the Bee Gees?
I’m pretty sure. You might have to win over the karaoke demographic. I’m not sure we’ll do that, but we’ll see. The dude from Cassius produced the album, right? Yep, Phillipe Zdar produced it. There were three separate producers on Pieces, did it make more sense going back to one entity, like with Echoes? Yeah, it did. Pieces was really two different production teams. We were hesitant then about working with multiple people, and working with Danger Mouse felt like a vibe thing – we’d recorded most of the record with Paul and Ewan… Danger Mouse was really enthusiastic, and we’d been talking about working together for a long time, but I don’t think he was necessarily the right man for the job.
How was your major label experience? And what’s it like being back on DFA?
The major label experience was… allright. It was working with a big corporation, that provides difficulties. It’s less personal at times, you’re working with people you have no affinity with sometimes. I feel like at a certain point when the company lost steam with Pieces of People, there was no way of getting it back. Around the world, there were definite perks to being major, but in the U.S., it really sucked.
In the U.S. it really, really sucked. It was important for us to work with a partner in New York who we got on with – everything was being outsources, our deal was primarily in the U.K. with Universal. The guy we signed with in America, Gary Gersh, is this kind of legendary A&R guy who worked with Capitol for a second, with the Beasties on XL, signed Nirvana, all this bullshit. He talked the talk, but when it came down to it was pretty self-serving. And then he just disappeared at one point, and the sub-label with Universal went under. It was us, the Mars Volta and Le Tigre… So we just started to work with DFA again recently. We recorded the album under our own steam. DFA came in after we’d finished it, and we wanted to work with them. DFA’s got some really strong points for being a really small company. The amount of clout DFA has is impressive for how small a label it is. They have a lot of love and respect around the world, you know. In America, they have great connections, but also, marketing a record takes way more people than it should. If you have some amount of success… it’s nitty-gritty stuff, but it takes up way too much of our time.
Were you guys at the last LCD Soundsystem show?
Yeah. It was great. It was a beautiful show. To me, at least, James [Murphy] seemed to make Madison Square Garden, which is a huge, huge place, seem really intimate. I pretty much knew everybody on stage – at one point I realized there was this woman onstage singing back-up who I’d met maybe 17 years ago when I was on tour with another band. The shows were on the one hand very professional, but still quite DIY. It really summed up LCD in a lot of ways.
LCD ending is painted as this end of a generation thing. When you first came out, obviously New York was considered a big part of your identity even though you guys aren’t from New York. What’s going on there now musically, and do the Rapture still fit into that landscape?
I have no idea what’s going on in New York right now. I do think of us as a New York band. We’ve been based here for maybe 12 years now, there’s only a handful of bands that are actually New York natives. We’re inspired by New York, moreso than anywhere else, but the difference is that when we started out there was only a handful of clubs and a handful of bands. The 90s was a really dead period for rock in New York. There was a couple of things going on, and you knew were they were happening – there were only 4 clubs, maybe, in Manhattan. Brooklyn now, as with the world over, well, neighbourhoods get gentrified, and there’s new clubs and boutiques and stuff, it’s exponential. I know from going out at night and being part of the nightlife to some extent that people of all ages still have a fondness for the band, and that’s always really nice. A 21 year old kid find out you’re in the Rapture and they’re like ‘Ohhh shit, really?’. We haven’t been playing shows for maybe 3 and a half years, so that’s nice.
I’m 22 by the way, and I fucking love the Rapture. What was the pull to New York back then, if it was a black hole? I’m not sure, you know. Other cities were getting boring. There was a strong underground in the 90s, and different cities would have their heyday. Vito and Luke, I think, were sick of the West Coast. They lived in Seattle for a while and fucking hated it, they were miserable there. For me, I grew up in D.C., and if I was going to live in a big city in America, it might as well be New York. Why the fuck not?
Were there any regrets about the last album? How Deep Is Your Love seems to break with the direction of it in that it’s got the noirish vibe you used to have?
That’s interesting, I think everything on this album wasn’t exactly planned out. We tried out different things on the album. It’s really different to Pieces I think – Luke and Vito started the band, Luke saw it as his creative vehicle, he has a big personality and he was pushing it in a certain direction, but then when Matt joined the band he started singing, and he played bass in a way that nobody else they’d played with before did, that effected the way the band sounded as Matt became more aggressive and confident – he sung half the songs on Pieces. So that really effected Luke – he thought he invited Matt into the band and he wanted him to sing, but at the same time he wasn’t really cool with it, he wanted to be the singer. So there was this friction back and forth – they’re both really different creatively and intellectually. So this album is a lot different just because it’s the three of us, and I think a chunk of it is about Luke finding his footing again, and being very positive. So I wouldn’t say the subject matter of How Deep Is Your Love is very noirish, the feeling of it is more uplifting, but there’s definitely mood in the bass.
What’s your favourite thing about the album?
I’m just happy we got to make it. For me it was as much about the process and having confidence that we were a good band. We were all pushing ourselves to keep things in that excited ourselves.
The Rapture play the Electric Picnic at some point between the 2nd and 4th of September
Words Daniel Gray