Reptar: they slew SXSW and are heading this way
Reptar like to dance. And so do their fans. When the band played a house party in their native Athens, Georgia, the audience went apeshit, throwing shapes on counters and kitchen appliances while chanting “break the floor, break the floor, break the floor”.; The house was trashed, but the gig firmly established the incandescent four-piece among America’s most exciting young bands – so exciting that producer Ben H Allen (Animal Collective, Gnarls Barkley) agreed to put out their debut single on his own Make Records Not Bombs label.
“Ben was waiting on a friend at a bar across the street from where we were playing one night,” frontman Graham Ulicny explains when asked how the band teamed up with the in-demand knob-twiddler. “He presumably got bored and walked into the venue and just happened to catch our set. Afterwards he approached me and said he dug the music and wanted to record with us. We had no idea who this guy was until he sent us an email later that night.”
Behind the desk for the immaculately titled ‘Oblange Fizz Y’All’ EP (due to land shortly via Athens-based imprint Quality Faucet), Allen’s taut production style is the perfect foil for Reptar’s acid-drenched cartoon-wave. Crackling with lysergic energy, tracks like ‘Stuck In My ID’, ‘Houseboat Babies’ and ‘Cannabis Canyon’ reveal a band adept at shattering the conventions of contemporary electro-pop. “There’s a lot more dialogue in the studio,” says Ulicny about working with the producer. “A lot more sitting down and talking about the music.”
Their association with Allen will inevitably lead to comparisons with Animal Collective, Passion Pit and MGMT, but Reptar are something else entirely. Instilling the kind of feverish fandom in their followers that’s usually reserved for hardcore punk bands, the good-time psych-poppers are reinventing indie-dance for a new generation of Nickelodeon alumni. Radar first came across them at last year’s CMJ conference in NYC, and by this year’s SXSW they’d become the most synonymous name in Austin.
“Comparing us with other bands that have already established themselves seems premature,” Ulicny says. “We never sat down and said this is what Reptar will be and this is what Reptar will not be. Because of that all we can do is keep making music that we like.” Don’t worry boys, we like it too.
Words: Toby Rogers
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Need To Know
• The band are named after the ubiquitous green Godzilla-a-like from 1990s Nickelodeon ’toon Rugrats
• They once played a Christmas gig dressed in oversize Santa suits and wrapped in fairy lights
• They recommend dancing very enthusiastically to their music in
a Burger King Playland ball pit