Icons of an era call us back to the floor.
In the days leading up to May 21, 2011, countless commutes were buoyed (or burdened) by the promise of sublimation. New York City’s subways, like many mass transit lines throughout the country, were plastered with proclamations of god’s coming judgement—the exact date derived from the apocryphal arithmetic of Harold Camping and his Christian cohorts over at Family Radio. But when “The Rapture” came and went without incident, it seemed that the greatest resurrection might have been for New York’s dance punk messiahs, The Rapture, who’d announced their fourth record—the first in almost five years—just days after the bogus prophecy.
This seemed like an uncharacteristic publicity stunt on the part of the band and their record label, DFA, especially given the album’s title, In the Grace of Your Love, and its religious overtones. But drummer Vito Roccoforte assures me that, “despite getting a ton of hits on Facebook,” all the hoopla was pure coincidence—even if the biblical conceit is fitting. Coming back to DFA after Universal released them from a four-album contract, The Rapture returns to the label like prodigal sons, having undergone the spiritual bankruptcy of signing to a major, only to come back repentant, with their hearts on their sleeves and a fully-completed album in the can.
“Depending on how you look at it, this album took two-and-half years or two-and-a-half months to make,” multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Andruzzi explains, cutting through the chronologic haze of writing, recording, touring and attrition that has consumed the band since their 2006 record, Pieces of the People We Love. Clustered around a small table at a brightly decorated Cuban restaurant in Brooklyn, Roccoforte, Andruzzi and Jenner seem a bit like brothers at a family meal, the conversation easy and fragmented, with the focus primarily on food. Each of the trio’s attention trails off into the distance or towards his phone when the other speaks (they’ve heard these stories a thousand times), facts are either corroborated or corrected—when Jenner explains how they linked up with their producer, Phillipe Zdar, Andruzzi balks, “you seem to be the only one who got that memo!” The sticky tension that’s the glue of any longstanding, deeply felt relationship is as apparent as the filial bond. When the three get up to leave the restaurant, it’s pouring. They stand for a minute contemplating the deluge before setting out onto the street, huddled beneath the canopy of a single umbrella; Andruzzi and Jenner are headed to Steven Alan to buy some pants.
A week later, I meet with Roccoforte alone at his home in Brooklyn, where he’s been nesting with his wife, Keiko, and their one-month-old son, Vito Sota. We ogle the baby’s tiny feet and hypothesize about the growth patterns of peach fuzz on his downy crown, before setting out for the bars, all of which seem to be closed at 4PM. Resigned to the back of a heavily-mirrored cafe, Roccoforte reminisces about their early success. “When ‘House of Jealous Lovers’ came out, everything went fucking haywire,” he explains. “The New York scene had all this heat and every major label—literally every major label in the world—was wanting to sign our band.” Roccoforte is referring to the 2002 single that not only launched their career but also put the then-nascent DFA on the map. The song, an incantatory, slightly nonsensical powerhouse, marked the sea change in early 2000s indie rock, overthrowing the navel-gazing downer balladry that had defined the genre for much of the preceding decade, replacing it with hopped up house energy. It didn’t matter that Jenner’s unhinged vocals were saying something as mindless as house of jealous lovers over and over again, The Rapture was the home team, and they were singing the fight song for a new sound.