The Rapture's Vito Roccoforte Talks Mattie Safer, Fresh Starts, and Road Trips
Last week, we here at Crossfade spoke with the Rapture's drummer Vito Roccoforte, discussing the band's new album, In the Grace of Your Love, as well as the dubious genre term dance-punk and the indie dramatics of the last decade.
And today, just hours before the Rapture finally takes the stage at Grand Central, we're wrapping up our conversation with Vito, taking on topics such as the departure of longtime bassist Mattie Safer, fresh starts, and road trips.
Crossfade: When Mattie Safer left the band, he was a significant member, of course. But still, he only made up 25 percent of the band. So what made you feel the need to dump all the material you had written with him?
Vito Roccoforte: Yeah, all of the material on this album was written after him, except for "Miss You," which he originally played bass on, and the title track. But those were re-played and re-written. Other than that, everything was completely new. It just felt like the right thing to do. There was a lot of good material. But I don't know ... Once he left, we just wanted to start fresh.
When he did leave, there was a lot more room, all of a sudden, creatively, because there was one less member. We were all pretty pent-up creatively, wanting to write and make music. We had no problem writing a bunch of stuff. And Luke had a bunch of old songs that we worked on, and me and Dave had a bunch of ideas we brought in, and we all brought stuff in we had sitting around individually and worked togheter. We also came up with completely new material in the studio.
Your drumming is really prominent on a lot of the songs, and always has been. How did the process change when you lost the other half of the rhythm section?
I think for everybody across the board it gave us way more room. This band has always been pretty much a democracy. I'm a drummer, but I have way more creative input than most drummers.
Everybody could probably be a band leader in whatever band, but in this band it's equal. It makes it hard, so one less voice gives everybody more space. I think we were all really happy and more than ready to fill that space.
In terms of the rhythm section, it was hard. I've played with Mattie for years. But the thing that really made a difference was, Gabe turned out to be a fantastic bass player and played bass on everything. That was really important because rhythmically and musically, we'd been playing together for years also, and really understood each other. So we didn't have to go through that whole process of feeling each other out. It was a pretty natural thing, and it saved us a lot of time.
Do you plan to leave Gabe on bass? Or do you think you might get a permanent replacement?
Live, we've had a guy who's played with us for two years. He's great, and he's definitely totally filled Mattie's shoes, which were big shoes to fill. The feel is there, and he's a supergreat rhythm and bass player. But for writing, I don't know. I think we really did enjoy just having three people. It was a much easier process. We'll see what happens.
The new album, In the Grace of Your Love, sounds a little bit less abrasive than some of your past material. It's kind of more mellow and nuanced. Is that something that was on purpose that you'd been waiting to try out once you had this new creative space?
I don't think so. Especially this time, we never really set out to do anything musically on purpose. We really just tried to focus on the process rather than the results. What I mean by that is we just focused on us being in the room together and making music. Whatever came out of it, came out of it.
This album is a pretty reflective picture of us as individuals and a band, and where we are right now musically. So we're probably a little bit less abrasive, and we're different people than we were on Echoes.
The term everyone tags you with, even now in 2011, is "dance-punk." Is that something you're proud of having helped create? Or is it a term you're trying to shake?
It is what it is. We've never really tried to shake it because you can't, you know? In terms of bands or the genre as a whole, a lot of people are calling us the founders of it or whatever.
What I like about it is I feel like what we did and what we were doing at the time, we definitely were some of the first acts in a long time to kind of come from a punk background but incorporate dance music in the indie world.
It's cool to maybe have had an influence on other people, or some sort of musical culture as a whole. To me, that's just kind of up to the writers to make up. And that always changes too; history is already rewritten and changed and stuff. It's interesting now, putting out a new album and reading what people are writing, how our story or history is being changed right now.
For being an active band that's making new albums, is it weird to read those historical-context pieces? Do you feel fossilized in a way?
Not really, because in all those pieces they really liked the album. Our history and who we are makes us who we are now. It's definitely a big piece of what this album is. Being back on DFA and all of that is -- you have to look at the history. The history is really important to give a context to what we're doing now and where we're at.
You've previously mentioned one of the problems that led to your relative inactivity was touring fatigue. Now you're touring again ... What are your plans? Are you going to keep it light?
We're tyring to figure that out as we go. We definitely tour heavily when we put out an album. And so far, we're going to be touring really heavily again. We try to take care of ourselves better. I just now was at a health food store shopping, and then a used book store, and I'm not hung over, so that's pretty different from the touring we used to do. We learned to take care of ourselves better, which makes a huge difference.
We'll see. I think if we get really burned out we'll stop, so we don't burn ourselves out to the point where we can't tour again for a long time. But we love touring, and also touring's a big part of how we make our living these days. You have to be able to tour if you want to do this for a living. Otherwise, we'd have to get jobs and it'd be a lot harder to make albums and have time for everything.
The Rapture, with Poolside and DJ Essential 6. Monday, October 17. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $20 plus fees via fla.vor.us. All ages. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.
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