Photo by Ruvan Wijesooriya
Forty-eight minutes into the interview with Vito Roccoforte, there's a pause. The drummer of The Rapture says to hold on, and the phone crackles as it shift hands. You can hear a quiet conversation, Vito asks someone a question, a woman laughs, and 45 seconds later he's back.
"Sorry, I had to pick up my baby from daycare, he just started a few weeks ago."
Vito's child is four and a half months old, and as a first time father, he's pretty excited about it.
"He's really really young still, it's awesome he's so cute. It's all the cliches and more and I love it, but it's hard though. It's the only bad thing about going on tour now, I love touring but I really miss this little dude..Everything pales in comparison, it's like OK that's not as important.."
This is Vito Roccoforte's general demeanor: excellent drummer, cheery guy, honest, upbeat, comfortable; he seems to have his priorities straight.
In The Grace of Your Love, the Rapture's newest album, was released earlier this month on DFA. It's the first record that the band's put out since 2006's Pieces of the People We Love, the record released on Universal shortly before their hiatus. And after five years, Grace strives less to be an album about trying to exceed fan expectations, and more like a setup for the long haul, a message saying, "We're gonna be here for a while, here's some breathing room." For a hard-working band with a gargantuan fan base, its a smart step to take; they cover new ground, but they don't alienate anyone. Vito and I however, don't talk about this, instead we talk about the Muppets and superpowers, we talk about Keith Moon's drumming, and the beginning of the Rapture.
By the time Vito picks his baby up, we haven't talked about music in at least 10 minutes. Instead we've been playing quandary games like "Superpowers With Catches," where you get a superpower but there's a horrible catch, or "Awesome and Also Awesome," the "Would You Rather" game's wholesome cousin, picking two really great things and having the other person choose between them. Three questions in, it's time to throw curve balls.
City Pages: OK, would you rather have: Everyday when you wake up, time freezes and you get an extra 30 minutes of sleep? Or once a day someone hands you a delicious sandwich of your choice?
Vito: This is the first one I don't have a quick answer for...
City Pages: This one's really hard.
Vito: I'll tell ya, before having a baby...I don't know, now I've gotten used to waking up, so like the sleep thing doesn't bother me as much. Before, I definitely would have said 30 minutes of sleep every time! But now, now I'm leaning towards the sandwich...
City Pages: Now that you're a dad you take the sandwich?
Vito: You know what, no, I'd still take the sleep...A 30 minute free pass is awesome.
City Pages: How about this: You can ride down the biggest hill in town on your bicycle, and it's gonna be a really great ride down the hill, and the wind's gonna be blowing in your hair and the sun's shining...Or, you get to see your favorite movie from childhood as if you're just seeing it for the first time, like you re-experience that again, and it's going to be just as exciting.
Vito: Oh movie, movie, yeah, no doubt.
City Pages: What movie would it be?
Vito: Oh it'd be the first movie I saw, "The Muppet Movie." It completely blew my mind. I really loved Animal from the Muppets. He was my favorite, and he's based on Keith Moon, I later fell in love with Keith Moon's drumming.
City Pages: So Keith Moon's your guy huh?
Vito: On the early albums we were really into Suicide and CAN and This Heat and I was really into Jaki Liebezeit and the drummer from This Heat, Charles Hayward. But I always loved Keith Moon, I just always loved his style and his personality. ] In the film The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, the Who does this medley, and at one moment Keith Moon picks up one of the floor toms and he has it on his drum kit and he plays the floor kit like on the shell, and he's doing this rim-roll and then he literally just throws it across the stage and they cut from him before he throws it but you see the drum just go flying out of the frame. Shit like that was just goofy.
City Pages: So much of the Rapture's appeal is rooted in drumming. You've always traipsed around in this delicious space between dance punk, disco and rock and roll. Was that the idea from day one? Or did you work into that mantra over time?
Vito: We were punk kids, I think Luke wanted to be the drummer first, but his parents wouldn't let him play drums in the house, and I was able to soundproof the basement and put the drums there. Luke has a great sense of rhythm, he actually would have been a fantastic drummer, he's pretty decent as it is.
Rhythm has always been what we focused on in this band, from day one. I think the band has always morphed and transformed, but from the early days, we got into dance music. If you listen to Luke's parts, a lot of the songs, especially in the early days, are all about how things lock together rhythmically. It's a nice band to be a drummer in because everybody understands rhythm and really appreciates it and adds to it.
City Pages: So was that was the original philosophy then? To make this rock and roll music that you can also get down and dance to?
Vito: Yeah, I think we've just always been attracted to the rhythm. It's something that both me and Luke listen for and talk about. We've talked about the pocket and the feel since we were 18, almost 15 years now, it's just what it is. At a live show we wanted to project that energy, like our favorite bands and things we saw, everything from a Fugazi show to Rockets From the Crypt, they had this incredible sense of energy and rhythm.
I think, especially early on, we were just trying to fill holes musically that we didn't see any bands, like contemporary bands, really doing. So we'd try to play music we love because we were punk music dorks. So we were like, "well we love this band Television but there's nobody that even sounds anything like that right now, I really wanna hear something like that."
City Pages: So you guys were big fans of all these bands, and you just wanted to add something to that?
Vito: I think that's always why you start a band. For us, that's why we started playing music, "Let's add to this, I really like this, we could do this, let's try to do this and then add this to it."
City Pages: OK, so you can shoot lasers out of your eyes --
Vito: That's pretty amazing.
City Pages: Yeah, laser eyes would be great, but you have to wear rollerblades all the time.
Vito: (Laughing) OK, well I'd definitely take the laser eyes with the rollerblades.
City Pages: Yeah, this one is easy. You can shoot lasers out of your eyes and you get to wear rollerblades all the time.
Vito: (Laughing) Yeah, where's the downside? Which part is the catch? I feel like I could just incorporate both of those into becoming one really awesome superhero.
City Pages: If you were shooting the lasers over your back behind you, you could make yourself go really fast on the rollerblades-blasting yourself forward.
Vito: That's what I was thinking, it was the first thought I had. I would use the lasers to propel me so I'd have super speed. I'll take the lasers.
THE RAPTURE play with Advance Base on THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, at the VARSITY THEATER. 18+. $18. 8 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222.
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