Article by: Jennifer Farrar & Erin Manning | Photo Credit: David McClister | Posted: 05/14/2012
For the Generation Y members racking their brains right now from trying to remember where they’ve heard the name “Reptar” before, rack no more. You’re thinking of the fictional, green T-Rex from the smash 90’s cartoon series “Rugrats.” There’s a new Reptar on the scene, however: the dance-pop quartet that hails from Athens, Georgia, that is putting its own dinosaur-sized footprint on the indie music world.
After several years of touring and a successful EP, "Oblangle Fizz Y’all" (2011), Reptar has finally proven their buzzworthy-ness with their debut album "Body Faucet," (Vagrant, 2012). (Vagrant, 2012). Produced by Ben Allen, (Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Washed Out), "Body Faucet" is a collection of danceable, electronic pop tunes that are reminiscent of Passion Pit, Electric Touch, The Features, and classic, synth-laden Prince. Throughout the entire album, there is a consistent element of surprise from one song to the next that creates a level of eager anticipation for what is to come.
Brite Revolution recently chatted with Reptar’s guitarist and vocalist, Graham Ulicny, who offered insight into everything from their band name, to their new album.
Brite Revolution: Is it true you named the band after the “Rugrats” character?
Graham Ulicny: Yeah it is named after the cartoon. For a while it was a running joke with us. We would make up different stories about it mostly because we didn't really know why we named the band that. I honestly still don't! Now I kind of see it as a symbol of the music. It’s an obscenely youthful display of energy and emotion. It comes from a place that is inwardly aware of pain and sadness but is expressed in a very theatrical way. It feels like a pop music play we put on for people.
BR: A “pop music play?” So what can people typically expect from a live show?
GU:We like to create a lot of energy with the music. We move a lot on stage and it’s all very exaggerated, just like the music. We play some songs faster. There are flashing lights controlled by switches on the ground.
BR: Where do you draw inspiration from when writing songs?
GU:All the lyrics on the record are kind of an internalized dialogue. I am very interested in how people perceive and relate to themselves. People our age deal with issues of loss, sexuality, identity, mortality and whatever else in this hyper-meta, internet-stimulated environment. I think that cultivates a very disjointed and anxiety-ridden inner monologue in a lot of young people -- I like to explore that with this band.
BR: How does music affect you personally?
GU: It is like seeing a play. It tugs on different parts of your anatomy and being. We like to offer an exaggerated dose of that. For us, it is a cathartic experience to put on a show for people.
BR: As a band, what is one of the best things that has happened to you so far?
GU: Going on tour with our friends in Quiet Hooves this year was an experience I’ll never forget. Bringing our music to people all over the country meant so much to me and being in such a communal atmosphere was really special.
BR: What is it about Reptar that sets you apart from other up-and-coming bands?
GU:I don't know and I don't really care. We just like to play these dang songs. I am a little sick of the comparisons people make between us and other bands. I think a lot of that stems from our generation’s need to put everything in neat boxes to make sense of things. We don't think of our band in those terms. The songs are just the songs.
BR: Your debut album, "Body Faucet", was just released on May 1. What do you have to say about that project?
GU: The record has twelve songs on it. They were all recorded in Atlanta, Georgia during November and December of 2011. We tracked stuff live and over-dubbed vocals and other parts. This has been a huge relief having the record come out. It’s been a long time coming for this band and we are all really proud of the songs on the record.
BR: The song “Ghost Bike” was written about experiencing and surviving a friend’s death. Was that a personal experience?
GU: “Ghost Bike” was written shortly after we attended a play in Chicago. The play talked about a bike accident. I kept seeing all these ghost bikes all over Chicago and decided to write a song about a girl whose girlfriend gets killed by a car on her bike while they are riding to work.
BR: Besides attending plays, what do you all like to do in your spare time?
GU: Well for the last several months we have been touring and recording almost non-stop. We feel like this music needs to be experienced live. We want to take advantage of the opportunity we now have to travel with this band. We also all play in other bands. William studies electronics in his spare time; Ryan does composition; Andrew likes ornithology; Jace likes to invent things like the sponge towel; I, [Graham], like to ride my bike and read about Japan.
BR: What’s up with the old-school design of your web site?
GU: We wanted something concise and goofy. I guess in some sense it reflects the whole millennial theme represented in the name and music. We grew up with that stuff!
Reptar - "Three Shining Suns"