Earlier this week, New Times caught up with Vito Roccoforte, drummer of the influential New York dance-rock act the Rapture. After some five years largely out of the American spotlight, the Roccoforte and crew are back with a new album, In the Grace of Your Love, and a headlining tour. When the band plays Grand Central next Monday, the gig marks its first appearance in town in at least six years.
But don't call it a comeback, Roccoforte insisted during the interview. The last five years actually saw the band continually practicing, writing new music, and even enjoying a random smash hit single in Australia -- meaning, Australia only.
After the jump, read the full Q&A for the bits of the conversation that didn't make it onto ink and paper.
Crossfade: It's been a while since you've toured as a headlining band and a long time when you played in Miami. Did you have any jitters or anxiety about going straight back into a headlining tour?
Vito Roccoforte: No. I mean, not really. I guess we didn't think about it much; we were just more excited to actually be touring again. We just wanted to get out thtere and play some shows, you know. I guess the headlining thing -- it had been so long since we had been out there that we'd rather go out on our own and bring some openers and play to our fans again 'cause it's been a long time.
So far it's been good. It's been so long, we had no idea if anybody would show up or not, but people have shown up. It's been awesome and the crowd reaction has been incredible; we've had some of the best shows we've ever had.
Are you noticing any new fans out there who might have missed you the first time around when you were regularly touring? Or is it mostly people who have stuck with the band from the beginning?
It's an interesting mix. There is probably a percentage of people who have been with us for a logn time and haven't seen us for years, or saw us in 2002 or 2003. Then there's another big percentage of fans who are totally new and younger and have kind of discovered us even in the time between the last album and this album -- five years. That's really neat, too.
What is it like for you to revisit some of your oldest material? A lot of those songs are 10 or more years old now. Is it refreshing or is it strange?
It's great. When we approach a live show, we try to incorporate as much as we can from what we've done. We don't play anything off [our 1999 album] Mirror or [our 2001 EP] Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks as much or at all, but we play a lot of stuff off [our 2003 album] Echoes, and then the new album.
Growing up and going to shows and being a fan of a band, it bummed me out if I went to see them and they only played the new album. We've always been aware of that and we've always tried to incorporate our material from across time.
Have you changed the arrangements or left space for improvisation to keep that older material fresh?
We're constantly messing with and tweaking the set list. Live, we just try to have a big party, and we're trying to build something -- it's nice that we have so much material now. It used to be a struggle to play 45 minutes for us. Now we can build a set, and we try to approach it as a DJ set, so it builds and then it has peaks and flows in different ways. Incorporating the older songs, it was a balance of trying to get that with the new stuff and having it all flow.
We tweak the songs, too, to fit. We've never wanted to just re-create the albums perfectly, exactly how they are on the record. That's always been a little boring to me, so we've always messed with things and remixed stuff.
What's an example of a song that's really morphed over the years?
"Olio," for instance. That's changed a lot over the years. We've changed the way it's programmed and it's structured and things like that. It's great on record, but it's a prettty tracky song that just goes on, so live we've added some breaks and different parts and changed some beats.
What exactly happened in the five years when you guys fell out of the public eye? Did you break up? Or was it a hiatus, technically?
Basically what happened is that we toured for a year or a year and a half, and we started writing immediately. [Vocalist and guitarist] Luke [Jenner] quit for about three months, and then [bassist] Mattie [Safer] wasn't that happy, and he left six months after that and was gone.
So in that whole time with all of them leaving and coming back, we were still working and writing. But by the time Mattie left and it was [me, Jenner, and multi-instrumentalist and founding member Gabriel Andruzzi], we started again from scratch, and that's what ended up being the album.
Once we started working on that, it went really quickly. We wrote 20 songs in about three months, and we found the producer Philippe Zdar, and recorded with him and figured out the label thing. The time goes by really quick! We were busy the whole time.
So there was, in fact, continuous activity?
We did two Australian tours. We became really successful down there. This song "No Sex for Ben" was only released on a video game [Grand Theft Auto IV] and became a huge radio hit down there. So we did these two big festival tours there. It was weird having that song be a huge hit only there and not in the rest of the world.
So we did that, and then we did a few shows and little things here and there, and did Asia and stuff like that. But mainly the last two years after Mattie left was writing and then finding a producer and then recording the album.
We self-funded everything, so we had to figure out how to put it out, so we got back together with DFA, and are putting it out on Modular in Australia. So it all kind of takes longer than you'd want it to. In the end we did everything right and are really happy with how we did it.
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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