Artist Interviews

Q&A: The Rapture

By | Published on Wednesday 25 April 2012

The Rapture

The Rapture came back from a five year hiatus last year with their third album, ‘In The Grace Of Your Love’. Returning to DFA Records, the label which released their original singles, the record came after a period of upheaval which saw frontman Luke Jenner leave for a time, and bassist Mattie Safer depart permanently.

After two years of writing and recording, the first track from the album, ‘How Deep Is Your Love?’ (not a Bee Gees cover), was emerged via DFA’s ‘White Out’ video series last summer. Touring and the album release followed, before a special one-off show last December which saw them perform at Rowan’s Bowling Alley in Finsbury Park as part of Noisey’s Special Engagement Concert Series.

In May the band are back on British shores for two shows, playing Oxford’s Academy venue on 1 May and London’s Shepherds Bush Empire on 2 May. Ahead of that, CMU’s Andy Malt caught up with Jenner to ask a few questions.

AM: In the five years between your second and third albums, the band went through a lot of ups and downs. Was there ever a point when you thought you’d never release another record?
LJ: Not really. It seemed like things were really broken between us and we had gotten to the point where it was either grow up or die as a band. We lost Mattie, it was a hard time, but a necessary time. You can’t just be 25 for the rest of your life. I think the album reflects those changes and in a way a new approach to making music, but like all artists who put out multiple records it really sounds like it’s the same voice, just coming from a different place. Maybe getting back, in some ways, to what is important in the first place.

AM: How far back do the songs on ‘In The Grace Of Your Love’ go? Are they a collection of tracks written over those five years, or are they more recent?
LJ: Mostly the tracks are written on an album to album basis. You can’t be a songwriter for over fifteen years and not have a couple kicking around in the box so to speak, but usually the most satisfying thing is to get on paper, or record, what you are going through at the time. That feels the most authentic in process.

AM: How do you feel your sound has developed on this album?
LJ: The whole point of this record was to move things forward a bit, while still staying true to our past. I think we are a better live band now, or at least we have gotten better playing big stages. And I think with any band that moves up in the world, that is going to change the way they write songs.

There is a really good David Byrne Powerpoint thingy where he goes into how all music is written for a space, and the space we play in now is generally bigger. I think that this record was written primarily to sound good at a festival like Coachella, which we just played a couple days ago.

In the beginning we were playing on the floor of someone’s house, so you write for that. It’s way more scrappy. Plus, at 20-something, you are all kinds of pissed off, even if you don’t really understand why. I think this record was an effort to resolve some of that stuff a bit.

AM: Did you have any specific influences or points of reference when writing the album?
LJ: Sure, I got really into American classic gospel music, stuff from the Swan Silvertones and Clara Ward, as well as the Louvin Brothers and deeper stuff like Indian Bottom Association, stuff like that. I wanted to express something spiritual on this album, something that kind of resolved all the trauma of my childhood and early adult life, while still honouring it and not dumbing it down or rejecting it.

AM: This was the first time you’ve worked with one single producer on an album. How does that compare to previous experiences?
LJ: It’s always felt like whomever we have worked with, since the time of the EPs to now, it’s always been really focussed. So I’m not sure there was a big difference. Phillippe [Zdar] is one of my favourite guys in the whole world on a personal level. But everyone we have worked with has been exactly right for where we were at the time, and Phillippe is no exception. It’s always super important to pick someone you can trust, who is an artist themselves and kind of get out of the way.

AM: Back in the early part of your career you were very much penned into the disco-punk scene. Do you look back fondly on that time, or did it feel like you were held back by that tag?
LJ: When we first started releasing records it was the end of 1998 or the beginning of 1999 and there was no disco-punk scene. That all happened in around 2002 after the big Strokes blow up. It was really fun to be around that time, there was this whole “new rock revolution” thing going on with the White Stripes and The Hives and that stuff, and it just felt like we were the antidote to that. Like the arty people on the scene. That is where I always wanted to be. It was great. It had kind of a Mods and Rockers thing to it, although everyone was friendly at the time.

AM: Are you happier now you’re back on DFA? Is it different being signed to that label second time around?
LJ: Yeah, it’s like being in a place where you are understood. I felt like everything was happening so fast back then the first time, and I just wanted more and more. I didn’t even know of what, but I wanted it. It was kind of stupid. I was basing all my decisions on this Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana dream that I had. Those people I grew up idolising. I’m glad I got to go through the whole major label thing though. It was ridiculous. Then it got even more weird when we started hanging out with Justin Timberlake and Timbaland for a while. Man, those were heady days.

AM: Last time you were in the UK you played an interactive show in a bowling alley. How did that come about and did you enjoy the experience? Would you do it again?
LJ: Sure I would do it again. It’s always interesting to play somewhere that is non traditional. Though that is really hard to do for us, because we have been around for fifteen years now and have seen and done it all. We just got an email from the people over at Vice and they asked us to be involved with them. We have been working together in one way or another since the time we moved to New York really, I used to serve them drinks when I was a bartender at Plant Bar on East 3rd St. They were always like “we are going to be millionaires and take over the world”, and I was always like, “sure dude”. They actually pulled that off.

AM: What does the future hold for The Rapture?
LJ: I don’t know. And that is the best part. Just do what comes next. I don’t have any big plans these days. I used to give all my power away and let other people decide if I was successful or not, and try to please others, and try to walk this line between being who I really am and trying to be something for whomever I thought I needed to do that for. Now I’m just happy to be kicking around and things go where they go, I never had any control anyway. It’s great. This album… people in France really loved it and they played the heck out of it on the radio. So I guess the answer to your questio is, hang in France for a bit. Could be worse.