The Rapture Come Home

The band that launched DFA Records returns to its roots after a major-label detour

A mutual friend, Justin Cherno of Turing Machine, brought James Murphy to a Rapture show at Brownies. "We really weren't into practicing at the time," Roccoforte says. "We thought it would destroy the energy of the show. We fell apart within 20 minutes, but there was something James loved. He was like, 'I have a studio, and we should work together.' We were impressed. He was so in line with what we were into. We spent months just hanging out and listening to records."

Once, Murphy showed the band a piece in i-D magazine about England's then-emerging post-punk resurgence. "He was like, 'We're going to do this, I'm going to produce it, and it's going to take over the world,'" Jenner says. "I was like, 'Yeah, dude, sure,' you know?"

Galkin "persisted and pestered James and Tim" to start a label, Jenner says; DFA Records began in 2001. Galkin was a regular at Murphy's DJ night at the East Village's Plant Bar. A former talent buyer for a corporate-events production company, Galkin's tastes aligned uncannily with the developing sensibility he began noticing via Vice magazine and heard in the duo's production work as the DFA and in Murphy's DJ sets.

The Rapture play Webster Hall on Friday, September 23.
Willie Davis
The Rapture play Webster Hall on Friday, September 23.
Willie Davis

Jenner tended bar part-time at Plant Bar and worked at Angelika Kitchen, crashing with a co-worker who took shifts at a dance-record shop. "I would listen to 12-inches all day," says Jenner of the apartment. "He would come home, and I'd be like, 'What else sounds like this?' He'd get really excited." Jenner channeled his own excitement into a new song, "House of Jealous Lovers."

The reasons why differ depending on the teller—Galkin thinks the Rapture were "afraid they were going to alienate their fan base," Jenner claims vexation by delay pedal—but no one disputes that the finished recording of "House of Jealous Lovers" scared the shit out of the band. After several delays, the 12-inch came out in March 2002 and took off like a shot: an actual rock band, complete with Jenner's screamo vocal, making an actual dance record.

Its basic punk-funk groove would hit the charts a couple of years later with Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" and Modest Mouse's "Float On." More subculturally, "House of Jealous Lovers" cannily remixed Brian Eno's famous formulation about Velvet Underground: For a while, it seemed as if the 20,000 people who bought the 12-inch either became DJs or bought drum machines.

"And I'm sorry," says Galkin with a big laugh. "I'm sorry for what we were responsible for."

"To be part of something like that is a once-in-a-lifetime thing," Jenner says. "It's a stupid thing to chase, but in hindsight, I can see why I would want that to happen again. I remember that was a big part of the confusion of the second album: 'Well, how do we do "House of Jealous Lovers" again?' The answer is, you never do it again."

Echoes, the Rapture's first full album (they'd stuck to singles and EPs before then), had been finished for a year by the time it came out in fall of 2003. DFA had taken a long time to find major-label distribution, and the band became impatient. They signed straight to Universal for their second album—and straight into isolation. "We got lifted off to this land where people didn't care about music," Jenner says. "We were cut off from our roots, our community. It's a really dark place to be."

The biggest tensions were internal. "Pieces was really me and Vito existing in between Luke and Mattie and picking sides at different points," Andruzzi says. "Me usually supporting Mattie but going to him and saying: 'Luke is going to do good work. He's always done good work.' Mattie was really disillusioned with him."

Shortly after finishing Pieces, Jenner's son was born. Two months later, Jenner's mother took her own life. "It wasn't the first time she'd tried," he says. "I didn't really have any time to process it. We were in a tunnel, touring all over the world for a couple years. I didn't know how to be a father, and I didn't know how to come to terms with my mother actually successfully committing suicide. That kind of blew me out of the water."

After Safer's departure, things calmed down within the group. The Universal deal ended amicably, enabling the band to make a third album on its own. And in 2009, Jenner accepted Christ into his life.

"I didn't want to become a Catholic," Jenner says with a laugh. "I thought it would be way cooler to become a Buddhist or something. For me, faith is a very important thing. It influenced the record a lot."

Jenner began to mend fences. "For a long time I had a sort of scorched-earth policy," he says. "Once my mom died, it forced me to open doors and see what was there, if anything. Going back to DFA was a big part of that process."

The new material reflected this mind-set. "I wanted to make something that was resolved," Jenner says. "I started listening to lots of gospel. I joined a church choir for a while." He refers to "How Deep Is Your Love?," In the Grace's first single, as "a prayer. A lot of the songs on this record are attempts at prayers, also. This record is me trying to make something positive very consciously—not to avoid darkness, but to sit with it long enough to try and transform it."

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2 comments
JonR
JonR

"Williamsburg Hall of Music"? How did that escape a copy editor/fact checker?

 

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