The Brooklyn band's Luke Jenner talks us through the new album's Christian influences and what it's like working with DFA's James Murphy
The Rapture, the Brooklyn-based band that erupted onto the music scene with catchy-spastic hits, recently released their first album in five years. Their hiatus was riddled with changes: frontman Luke Jenner quit, then came back, bassist Matt Safer quit for good, French producer Philippe Zdar (Phoenix, Chromeo) helped the band’s sound evolve. Their twitchy, discothèque punch of dance music has made way to soul and gospel-flecked influences and slower, lingering rhythms. However, for all the changes, there’s also a certain return to form, and the band has circled back to their original label, DFA. At a café in Paris, frontman Luke Jenner talked about mentors, family hardships, and the empowering encouragement of old church ladies.
Dazed Digital: What was your first seminal musical influence?
Luke Jenner: The first performance I remember – I grew up in Hawaii until I was six—I was in daycamp of some kind and this group performed Rock Lobster and I remember being transported out of my body. I remember having this mystical communion with God or something, via Rock Lobster.
DD: In the past, you talked about how you connected with James Murphy because you had nearly identical music values and tastes. Yet your recent musical influences have changed quite a bit. Has that changed your dynamic with the label, especially since you’d been away from them for the last record?
Luke Jenner: DFA are just like old friends… it was just being like ‘hey how’s it going’. I think even the fact that they know what our old influences are, was enough. The fact that we have new influences… it’s really not that many people in the world that get us as a band so, I think it was hard to work with a major label. There’s definitely a new pool of influences, but it’s not important that they get it… I’m old enough that I don’t need a stamp of approval – which I did – but now I can stamp other people! The rad thing about being old is that you don’t care what people think.
DD: It’s been surprising to see Christian themes visibly presented in your music. How do you get the “dose” right so as not to have an agenda?
Luke Jenner: As a kid, I had bad experiences of people trying to cram religion down my throat. I was really wary of being preachy. I became a catholic a few years ago... For me it felt like I had tried everything else with this grieving process and I’d been to therapy, but I needed to put something to practice – it was literally the closest spiritual place to my house. I learned how to pray just by hanging out with these grandmas and when I wouldn’t show up they were like ‘hey where were you, we missed you’. That was really important to me, having that kind of energy around, old lady energy.
Dazed Digital: Old lady energy, huh?
Luke Jenner: Yeah just kind of nurturing, can’t screw up, I just found that really powerful... I grew in an era of nihilism like gangster rap and Kurt Cobain and people killing themselves and mental illness and drug addiction. Having a son now, and with my mother taking her own life... I started looking for positive music and I wanted to make something joyful, that didn’t avoid grief or pain but was transformative in nature. I joined a church choir for a while, and that was really fun to sing with other people. It’s really beautiful repetitive almost ambient music…
There’s a few songs on the record that I tried to write as prayers instead of writing something angsty -- there’s a lot of devotional writing that’s just a love letter to God, basically. …A friend of mine calls it the Church of the Big Let Go.
'In the Grace of Your Love' is out now