The Rapture, Under the Influence of Giants, Locksley
Birdy’s Bar and Grill, 21+,
Tuesday, Feb. 6, 8:30 p.m., $14
He has “a fever. And the only prescription, is more cowbell.”
The underappreciated percussion instrument that had Blue Oyster Cult and Christopher Walken fans laughing during the infamous Saturday Night Live skit is one of many that make The Rapture so addictive. Co-founder and drummer Vito Roccoforte helped choose the cowbell (in addition to the band’s synth, saxophone and staple rock instruments) to help hone the quartet’s uplifting retro sound.
“In American rock music, it [the cowbell] is a novelty,” Roccoforte says. “For us, it’s an important rhythmic instrument in dance [and rock] music.” Besides his pounding energy on live songs like “The Sound” during tours, the drum master finds joy in collecting thousands of records for his two record players. “We all DJ,” he says. “And we have our vinyl rights.”
Forming the Throne of Blood record label for the sole purpose of releasing their own 12-inch records, The Rapture opted to stay true to the artistic medium that made their 2002 single, “House of Jealous Lovers” (a precursor to their 2003 debut album, Echoes), a hit. Now signed to Universal Motown Records, their 2006 album, Pieces of the People We Love, has spurred another national tour, including their first-ever Indianapolis date on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at Birdy’s Bar and Grill. The album also garnered a slot as No. 19 out of 100 of the best songs of 2006, according to Rolling Stone, for The Rapture’s “Get Myself Into It” from Pieces of the People We Love.
“The album title was ambiguous,” Roccoforte says. “It’s pieces of everyone who worked on the album, and it’s about the interaction with our audience.” Other than the musicians themselves, Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz) worked on their title track and the song “Calling Me,” and British indie producers (and friends of the band) Ewan Pearson and Paul Epworth (Bloc Party, Goldfrapp) helped produce the album.
“They understood where we were coming from,” Roccoforte says.
With The Rapture’s disco-funk vibe and positive beats, Roccoforte believes rock music as a whole is moving in a more upbeat direction. “I think if you put it in context of what was happening when we started as a band — cookie-cutter rock — music is less aggressive now,” he says. During the band’s early days, he and his childhood best friend, vocalist/guitarist Luke Jenner, would get confrontational on stage and smash equipment. Now, the musicians turn to dancing.
“We’ve been able to change how we channel the energy,” says Roccoforte, who dances to George Benson tunes in his spare time. “It’s a different attempt to engage the audience.”
Growing up with Jenner in San Diego, Calif., the duo didn’t start playing music together until their late teens. Though grown from a family of theater folk, Roccoforte chose to be a black sheep and turned to musical expression instead. “When I started getting into music, Nirvana’s Nevermind was changing a lot of kids,” he says.
Working at record stores, movie theaters and bars, and having to live off $5 a day (usually spent on pizza and falafels), paid off when Roccoforte and Jenner evolved into the current Rapture team, which also includes vocalist/bassist Mattie Safer and keyboardist/saxophonist/percussionist Gabriel Andruzzi.
Following in the footsteps of their idols, The Cure, Roccoforte says Robert Smith hand-picked the bands he invited on the acclaimed 2004 Curiosa Festival tour, which included The Rapture. “Robert was really gracious and took care of the bands,” Roccoforte says. “The Cure were inspirational live. Their songs transcend time. And we saw how important it is to treat other bands well. Robert even took an effort to turn his fans on to the other bands [on the tour].”
With Rapture fans having had time to absorb their albums, they now know what to expect of the band, Roccoforte says. “The shows on this tour [Pieces of the People We Love] have been the best we’ve ever had,” he adds.
Note: Eden Promotions presents The Rapture’s after-party with DJ Jackola at the Therapy Nightclub and Lounge, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., 21+, free.