At their purest extremes, rock music is for ugly, blue-collar listeners and dance music is for beautiful, elite listeners (especially here in Vice City). Breeding the two is not taboo, but it is dysfunctional. The Rapture’s production team, the DFA, are the Neptunes of indie dance rock – but more killer and lowkey. Their raw production burns on confidence, drugs, and knowledgeable taste, while embracing New York musical anarchy and inhibition genocide. Masterminds behind the Rapture’s knockout single, “House of Jealous Lovers,” the DFA (James Murphy,
Tim Goldsworthy) capitalized on vocalist/guitarist Luke Jenners’ starved rock vocals and the band’s screeching post-punk sound by lacing the track with an irresistible dance beat. Ten years from now (alongside Rockstar Games and Vice magazine) people will remember it as the demarcation of ’00s lascivious DIY indulgence.
But wait a second, the Rapture are still in their early 20s, still sifting through a thick foam of neon hipster hype without a squeegee in sight. To the dismay of hater gatherers, the band’s four members, Vito, Luke, Matt, and Gabriel are confoundedly humble, especially considering that they’re cover-darlings in this month’s the Fader and repeatedly get shuffled in with the Williamsburg “deck.” The newest member of the band, saxophonist/percussionist Gabriel Andruzzi (also of D.C. band the ABCs) doesn’t pay the glossy buzz much attention.
“None of us wear trucker hats, and for the most part, none of us dress like hipsters…we’re pretty goofy dudes. As far as controlling our image, as soon as someone starts taking pictures of you don’t really have much, you just wear what you wear,” he says. “This band’s been around for a while, before we were in Vice or on the cover of the Fader. As a band we don’t have political leanings and it seems like we’re leaving, if we haven’t already left, the underground.”
Wafting around the upstairs of Soho Lounge on the Thursday night of Miami’s Winter Music Conference, awaiting a much belated sound check, they’re all sedated and beat – putting together equipment and lingering around the upper staircases. Hours later, after performances by peers Peaches and LCD Soundsystem, they’ll play to a crowded venue of scenesters, press, and visiting New Yorkers at the Return to New York bash, zipping through a rousing set spiced with cow-belling and deep sax notes courtesy of Andruzzi. When it ends, people will realize that it’s 5 a.m. but nobody will give a damn.
Awaiting the release of their second LP (their first with the DFA), Echoes, the Rapture are flirting with a major labels deal – likely to include their current record label, also called DFA. Meanwhile, an entire underground scene fluctuates between anticipating a rock gem that can quake the dance floor and a record that might not complement the thrill of a signature single – one that captured electric excess in music like a Polaroid photograph by Jim Jacoy.
“I hope it’s not overly anticipated. If someone is expecting a full album that sounds like “House of Jealous Lovers,” that’s totally cool. I should probably just say that’s what they’re going to get, so they can expect it and not get it, but it’s a little bit of a ride, and we’re really proud of it,” Andruzzi explains.
Either way the reception of Echoes will have little effect on the band’s relationship; the two founding members, Vito Roccoforte (drums) and Luke Jenner (vocals, guitar), go all the way back to their pre-teens in California, and Matt Safer (bass, vocals) and Andruzzi were boys back in the D.C. punk scene. On stage at Soho, the group begins their set in a huddle, all smiles, with hands on keyboards. Back home in New York, they regularly hangout at Plant Bar spinning records, while Jenner (who, with an Afro and lanky build, incidentally looks like a ’70s Robert Plant) works the bar. For the Rapture, there’s no urge to get rushed into bigger waters, it’s more like a casual, if well publicized swim.
For more info, visit www.dfarecords.com.
Hunter Stephenson can be reached at HurricaneAccent@hotmail.com.