The Rapture - Biography

By David Downs


New York post-punk dance quartet The Rapture formed in early 1998 and released the eight-song Mirror (1999-Gravity) on CD and vinyl, while touring relentlessly until bumping into the dance bellweathers at DFA Records. Guitarey dancefloor hit "House of Jealous Lovers" in 2002 introduced the globe to their mix of punk, disco beats, and influences like Gang of Four, ESG, Liquid Liquid, '70s New York disco, and '80s Chicago acid house. The Rapture features two singers Luke Jenner (vocals and guitar) and Mattie Safer (vocals and bass), in addition to Gabriel Andruzzi (keyboards, saxophone, percussion), and Vito Roccoforte (drums). The band went through several keyboardists and bassists, notably adding Andruzzi. Echoes (2003-Universal) with key songs “I Need Your Love”, “The Coming of Spring”, “House of Jealous Lovers”, and “Sister Savior” hit number two on the Heatseekers chart and number 121 on The Billboard 200. Pieces of the People We Love (2006-Universal Motown) and tracks “Don Gon Do It”, "Get Myself Into It”, “The Devil”, and “The Sound” hit number one on the Heatseekers chart and113 on The Billboard 200. Tapes (2008-!K7) is a mixtape of band influences that has received very positive reviews. The Rapture still tours and records.


The Rapture was formed by Jenner and Roccoforte, who grew up in La Mesa, San Diego and moved to San Francisco in '97. In '98 they formed The Rapture, releasing mini-album Mirror before first single “The Chair That Squeaks” on Gold Standard Laboratories in vinyl, seven-inch in 2000 with Brooks Bonstin on bass, and Christopher Relyea on keyboards. The early single was actually recorded first -- at Lance Lafave, San Diego, in the winter of '98 and was originally released on Hymnal Sound with a cover of “Dumb Waiters” by The Psychedelic Furs.


The group toured extensively, playing sweaty, aggressive dance parties. Mirror was noisy and unglued -- music as self-destruction -- with tracks "Olio", "Mirror" and “Kid 606 In Love With The Underground" echoing a confrontational live show where instruments were smashed onstage. The Rapture went through five keyboard players and two bassists over eighteen months and more touring ensued with Sunny Day Real Estate and Nuzzle. The band then moved to New York City.


New bassist Matt Safer cycled in, and it would be a portentous addition. The Rapture's first concert with Safer included audience member James Murphy of the soon-to-be immensely influential DFA label, which was to be launched in September 2001 by Mo' Wax co-founder Tim Goldsworthy, musician Murphy, and manager Jonathan Galkin. After more touring, the band recorded the six-song “Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks” EP for Sub Pop in 2001. Produced by Murphy and Goldsworthy at Plantain Studios, New York City, the title track “Out Of The Races ...” blew up when it appeared in the film adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel The Rules Of Attraction. The song is spare, guitar driven with a driving bassline, shouted lyrics and infectious trap kit drumming.


Now firmly posited at the center of a post-punk revival, The Rapture got even bigger with 2002's "House of Jealous Lovers" on vinyl twelve-inch and released by much-watched DFA. The single coincided with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Andruzzi. Noisy, the song was dominated by simple, rhythmic guitar stabs, a huge house beat on high hat, and a repetitive verse the same as the title. It was a blowout. In May '03, The Rapture signed to major label Universal and in September released the DFA-produced full-length Echoes (2003-Vertigo). It was recorded over six months a full year prior signing to Universal. Part house, punk, funk and classic rock and  mixed, recorded, engineered, and programmed by Murphy and Goldsworthy, it earned massive critical nods including 'Album of the Year' by It made number 121 on The Billboard 200 and number two on the Top Heatseekers.


With Andruzzi handling sax and percussion, The Rapture toured Echoes through December '04 supporting in January Funeral for a Friend on the NME Awards Tour, alongside Franz Ferdinand. Later, the band toured on the Curiosa Festival with Interpol, Scarling, Mogwai, and The Cure.  Also in 2004, the band released  a DVD, Is Live and Well in New York City through DFA Records/Mercury Records Limited.


The Rapture started working a new album in 2005, writing through the Spring and recording in the Winter. The follow-up, Pieces of the People We Love (2006-Universal Motown) started out as rough demos which were brought to Ewan Pearson and Paul Epworth (who has worked with Futureheads, Bloc Party, Goldfrapp). Danger Mouse handled the track "Calling Me", while Cee-Lo Green handled some backing vocals on track “Pieces Of The People We Love”.


The album included several songs wrote in one day including "The Devil", "Don Gon Do It" "Get Myself Into It". The album seemed more accessible, with traditional pop mechanics compared to prior work. The album became a number one Heatseeker, made number 116 on The Billboard 200, and number sixteen on the Top Electronic Albums.


The Rapture supported The Killers on the London leg of their tour as well as dance legends Daft Punk on the North American leg of their tour in 2007.


In 2008, Timbaland produced the Rapture track “No Sex For Ben” which was featured on The Music of Grand Theft Auto IV soundtrack and "Echoes" plays in a scene of the movie Superbad.


Tapes (2008-!K7) a mix album, features the Undisputed Truth's "Earthquake Shake," as well as the Junkyard Band, the Bar Kays and the 1980's track "Going Back to My Roots". In 2011 the band released In The Grace Of Your Love.


The Rapture seized upon a cultural reaction to the angst-ridden '90s mainstream (Nirvana, Dr. Dre, Limp Bizkit) with something just as sinister, but more gleeful and sexy. Alongside bands like LCD Soundsystem and much of their DFA label peers, The Rapture took punk's guitars and simple structures and welded it to saucy house beats, while unapologetically deploying keyboards and shamelessly joyful choruses. That mix -- and a potent live show to boot -- found fans the world over, and their next release remains highly anticipated.

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