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The Rapture: Beat Transformation

story by tim mcmahan



Lazy-i: November 18, 2003

The Rapture
w/ Beans, The Locust, Underwater Birth
Friday, Nov. 21
9 p.m.
Sokol Underground
13th & Martha
$8 adv./$10 DOS

Gabe Andruzzi, saxophone / percussionist for The Rapture, doesn't agree that there is a clear-cut division between the old, no-wave Rapture and the new and improved dance-band version.

He insists that the band didn't go out of its way to create a dance vibe on their new album, it just sort of happened that way.

"I don't see a super-clear line between the two styles," he said via cell phone from Portland, Ore. "I've always seen them as generally kind of bouncy, even before they used electronics."

But anyone who's heard the band's 6-song Sub Pop debut, Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks, and Echoes, their just-released full-length on Strummer/Universal Records, knows exactly what I'm talking about.




Out of the Races spans the short distance between a loose, Gang of Four-style punk groove and an assaulting, jumbling noisefest. The EP's ironically titled track, "The Pop Song," is a dissonant howler that circles around whiner/vocalist Luke Jenner's ear-splitting screech of "You're growing older." The CD combined the gritty, emerging NYC punk sound of bands like The Liars and the experimental art rock of Les Savy Fav.

On the other hand, some songs on Echoes verge on runway music or something you'd hear in the background during "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." Track "I Need Your Love" is pure disco thump-thump-thump and sassy syncopated keyboards. Club hit "The House of Jealous Lovers" is backbeat dance riffage with a pulsing bass. The common denominator between old and new Rapture is Jenner's screech vocals, which, while grating in the old, art-school punk days, becomes almost endearing if not downright infectious when placed atop the title track's beat-drop bass and backbeat handclaps.

"There are a lot of expectations for bands to have one definitive way of doing things," said Andruzzi, who admits he first knew The Rapture as a "New York kind of scroggy punk band." The cousin of bassist/vocalist/keyboardist Mattie Safer, Andruzzi joined the band in July 2001.

"When we were recording Echoes, we were thinking back to albums we liked that don't have the same sort of songwriting on every track; records by Roxy Music and David Bowie. I don't think our record is clear-cut dance or punk. There are songs that fall outside those categories. We wanted to kind of experiment in the studio to see what we could do. We weren't trying to do just one thing."



"I don't think our record is clear-cut dance or punk. There are songs that fall outside those categories."




"In a way, we make it hard for ourselves because not all of our songs are dance songs."



Helping them experiment were producers Tim Goldsworthy and James Murphy, who go by the name The DFA. The duo has worked with such acts as U.N.K.L.E., Radio 4 and BS 2000.

The result of their collaboration were songs like the dance-floor favorite "House of Jealous Lovers," that has helped push Echoes to No. 5 on last week's College Music Journal Top 200. What do the band's old-school punk fans think of the new direction? "People go both ways," Andruzzi said. "Some embrace it and others, especially the people who like older punk-sounding stuff, don't like certain aspects of it. It's nice when people like it all."

The CD's dance vibe doesn't necessarily permeate the band's live show. Andruzzi said don't come to Sokol Underground Nov. 21 expecting some sort of glorified dance party. "We want to create a joyous vibe on stage," he said, "but we can't hold up an hour-long dance show. We try to play a catalog of songs, from ballads to stuff that people can dance to. But we don't have a manifesto dance party. In a way, we make it hard for ourselves because not all of our songs are dance songs."

The Rapture has had plenty of time to hone their live show, having toured on and off since last spring, recently finishing a tour in Europe and Brazil. They'll finish this tour around Thanksgiving, then hit the East Coast and Canada. Andruzzi said there's a stronger dance culture in Europe, where "House of Jealous Lovers" was quickly embraced by DJs who have the power to sway opinion. "People know who the DJs are over there."

After almost a year on the road, Andruzzi sounds like he's ready for a rest. "New York City is my home. If I was there all the time, I'd want to get the hell out. But it's my home, and I miss it."

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Published in The Omaha Reader Nov. 19, 2003. Copyright 2003 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.