Interview: Reptar

Interview with Reptar



Hailing from Athens, Georgia, and named after the dinosaur from Rugrats, indie quartet Reptar have just unveiled debut album Body Faucet. We had a chat with bassist Ryan Endelberger about working with Animal Collective’s producer, all-nighters in Berlin and playing gigs on the moon...

Questions and answers

Hi Ryan, where are you and what are you up to today?

We’re all off on our own today, taking some much needed downtime from Reptar to refill our minds with new experiences and new ideas.

Can you tell us a bit about the history of the band please?

It’s a pretty standard story of friends gradually meeting over time and liking music. We’ve been a band for about three years. Graham, William and I were in a band in high school, William and Andrew were in bands together in college, and a lot of other configurations of bands occurred: Reptar just happened to be one of them. Athens is cool like that; lots of people in lots of bands.

You’ve been compared to everyone from Talking Heads to Michael Jackson – what are your musical influences?

It’s impossible to keep music that resonates with you from influencing you. We love Talking Heads and Michael Jackson, for sure. But we also love Prince, Fennesz, Giorgio Moroder, New Order, Kate Bush, Dirty Projectors, Dan Deacon, Future Islands and Delicate Steve, just to name a few. However, I think the musicians of Athens who we have played with and listen to have had an even more profound impact. Bands like Grape Soda, Nana Grizol, Love Tractor, Pylon, Of Montreal, Dream Scene, Quiet Hooves, Bubbly Mommy Gun, Grass Giraffes.

So what can we expect from Body Faucet?

An hour of lush sounds, in 12 songs that each has a distinct character. There’s lots of analogue synths, cool guitar lines, lots of percussion, some horns here and there…

How long did the album take to write and record?

We had 18 days to record the songs; with pre-production and mixing, the album took a month and a half to two months. Some of the songs we’d been playing live for over a year, others came together in the studio.

Where do you find your lyrical inspiration?

A lot of the songs are about trying to figure out how you express yourself to the outside world. Some of them feel almost schizophrenic, as if there are multiple characters talking to themselves. Others are about space…

How was it working with producer Ben Allen?

He’s been awesome to work with and he’s a friend of the band at this point, so it’s very easy to just pick up and go with him. Ben is great at crafting clean, big, spacious sounds.

If you had to pick out one track on the album you’re most proud of, which would it be and why?

I’m proud of all the songs. I especially love the energies of ‘Isoprene Bath’ and ‘Please Don’t Kill Me’, and ‘Three Shining Suns’ has some of the most balanced sounds [on the record] and stands out from a lot of what we normally do.

You’ve made some pretty freaky videos, particularly the one for ‘Sebastian’. Were you involved in creating the concept? And can you tell us what on earth it’s all about please?!

We do have input into the concepts for the videos, but most of the time the directors come up with the ideas themselves and we help tweak and develop them a little more. In this case, Ben Fries from Deadhorse Productions came up with the idea. The videos are mostly visual representations of the sounds that develop and flow, and have some symbolism but don’t really have a “story”, so to say. A lot of the images in that one come from the myth of the martyr Saint Sebastian.

Which do you prefer: playing live or being in the studio? And what can punters expect from a typical Reptar gig?

They’re both great. We have a lot more experience playing live and are probably a little stronger at it as a result, but we look forward to getting better at studio work too. Our shows have a lot of energy, some goofy dancing, disco pants and demon voices.

So we understand you’re touring the album at the moment. What have been the best and weirdest experiences of the tour so far?

I had three of the best nights of my life in Berlin. The first night, we went to some of what’s left of the Berlin Wall at 2 in the morning and stayed there talking to some of our friends, one of whom had lived in Berlin his whole life and remembered the wall coming down. We just stood on this bridge over the river that used to divide Berlin, watching the sunrise.

The weirdest thing was that someone got scabies. Total bummer.

What’s on your rider? And what do you most miss about home when you’re touring?

Our rider has chips and salsa, hummus and pita, dentures, local beer, cheese, three live chickadees, and towels. I most miss being able to listen to my records.

How are you all getting along sharing a confined space? And how do you usually settle disputes?!

Touring can be intense, so we try to stay fresh by listening to astronomy podcasts and watching Star Wars movies on VHS. We usually settle disputes with Japanese-style wrestling, with lots of broken fluorescent light bulbs. Occasionally we weigh people against a duck and burn them if they are the same weight.

Nice. What’s the plan for the rest of 2012? And what’s the ultimate aim for Reptar?

For the rest of the year, we’re gonna go on tour with our friends Rubblebucket, which we are very excited for. We’re taking a quick break to be by ourselves, write new songs and refresh our minds, and at the end of the year we may go to Australia or back to the UK/Europe, which would be really cool!

We don’t have an ultimate aim, really. If anything, we want to have a concert on the moon by the time we die...