It hasn't stopped raining since the Rapture arrived in Los Angeles for two weeks in the studio with hip-hop producer Danger Mouse (Gorillaz, MF Doom) to record the follow-up to their 2003 breakthrough, the DFA-produced Echoes. This is sort of ironic, considering that the New York disco rockers' new album, due late this summer, is feeling some different weather.
"The early demos we've played for people, they've said it's a little more 'like sunshine,'" says drummer Vito Roccoforte. "You know, a little brighter. Because of the headspace we were in." Bassist Matt Safer adds, "People thought that the songs were really dark the last time around, but I don't think anyone would walk away thinking that now. We wanted to do more of a fun, upbeat thing -- as cheesy as that sounds."
After two years of touring Echoes, the Rapture -- Roccoforte, Safer, frontman and guitarist Luke Jenner and multi-instrumentalist Gabe Andruzzi -- took a much-needed break. "We were burnt out," Roccoforte confesses. After several months, the band felt ready to rent a rehearsal space on New York's Lower East Side, churning out some thirty songs in six months.
But before laying down any of the tracks, the Rapture tested them out in a series of one-off gigs. "You sit around in the studio wondering if people are going to like it, and then you play it for people and you know right away," Jenner says. "They can't fake it. It's really obvious. So we spent two months making the record, but a year getting ready to make it."
In an attempt to retain the feel of their work with New York's legendary underground production duo the DFA, in early February the Rapture entered New York's Sear Sound studio to lay down twelve tracks with the production team of Paul Epworth (Bloc Party) and Ewan Pearson. Says Jenner, "They're more from, like, our world of DFA-styled things." The not-so-sunny L.A. experience followed, where the band is still at work with Danger Mouse.
"Danger Mouse is definitely the most far-out thing we've done," says Jenner of the producer they met after both playing a party for late-night animation program Adult Swim. "This is the closest to a collaboration we've done -- and it's definitely not a traditional approach. He just treats us like samples. Instead of me going in and playing a guitar part -- he'll take a little loop of it and use it to sound like something's exploding. It doesn't even sound like a guitar after he's done with it sometimes. That's new for us."
"We've grown together as a band more. We are a lean, muscular funk unit now," says Safer. "If the last [album] was a lonely Saturday night walking around the city, lamenting life and love lost, then this one is where Saturday night's alright for a fight with your buddy."
While the band reveals that the album sports more vocals from Safer this time around -- as well as plenty of keyboards from Andruzzi -- song and album titles are still in flux. "We thought about Taco Party for a while," says Safer. "In L.A., we've all had at least a taco or burrito a day.
"Then there's The World's Greatest," he adds. "OK, fine, I just made that one up."