Reptar is an electro-pop/rock group from Athens, Georgia, which is home to a thriving musical scene and has produced acts such as REM, the B-52’s, and of Montreal to name a few. Reptar has came out from under the shadow of fellow Athens musicians with a unique brand of electronic rock that packs dance floors. Andrew McFarland (Drums), Ryan Engelberger (Bass), Graham Ulicny (Guitar, Vocals), Poof Daunghty (Percussion), and William Kennedy (Keyboard) first came together in 2008 and released the EP Oblangle Fizz Ya’ll in 2007. Body Faucet, the group’s first full-length album, is set to be released in May on Vagrant Records. The album is produced by Ben H. Allen, who has worked with Gnarls Barkley on the critically acclaimed St. Elsewhere and who has produced albums for Washed Out and Animal Collective.
Some bands seem to have all the luck. And then there's Reptar. While en route to San Francisco, where they were slated to perform as the opening act for EMA at the Rickshaw Stop, their van unexpectedly broke down. Nevertheless, the Georgia-based foursome managed to finally make their way for a post-midnight performance to—by this point—an excitedly inebriated crowd. Though this concert pre-dated the May 1st release of their debut album, Body Faucet, word had already spread on their electrifying live shows. Reptar is the type of band that gets a mass of people to toss aside their self-consciousness, and wildly move their bodies to the beat. It helps that every single band member is so visibly into the live performance, from lead singer Graham Ulicny gyrating spasmodically, to keyboardist William Kennedy seemingly lost in a psychedelic wonderland. High on sheer post-concert euphoria, we caught up with Ulicny and bassist Ryan Engelberger to get a glimpse into the wonderfully weird world of Reptar.
Band of the Day: Question: How did you come up with the album title “Body Faucet,” what was the inspiration behind that?
Graham Ulicny: It took us awhile to come up with that name. Naming an album title with twelve songs an hour long is harder than it looks. We wanted to name it “Moo Choo Choo”, but our friend who does the album artwork was like, “You can't name it Moo Choo Choo!”
Band of the Day: Wait, what is “Moo Choo Choo”?
Graham: For us it doesn't mean anything in particular. It's kind of like capturing this sense of motion...
Ryan Engelberger: ...and change.
Graham: Yeah, where you're going through something.
Ryan: That's why we liked Body Faucet too. A faucet is something a bunch of different things can come out of.
Graham: And a body is something that a bunch of different stuff can come out of...
Ryan: Right! And bodies can come in lots of different shapes and sizes, like faucets, and you don't really know what a body faucet is, but we all probably have one [laughs]!
Band of the Day: I heard a lot of good things about your live show before coming here tonight. Who's a band whose music you didn't know too well before seeing them live, but once you saw them live you were amazed?
Graham: When I first saw Rubblebucket, that blew my mind. It was amazing to see such a big band, where every single person is such a good musician, and so talented.
Ryan: Everything was so classy, too. You can tell that every single one of them is such a talented musician. And no one was trying to upstage anyone else. We all had finished soundcheck, and just walking by, and every single one of us without realizing it just stopped dead in our tracks and stood watching them. Eventually we looked around at the end of their soundcheck and realized that every single one of our band was watching. And they were probably like, “Who the fuck are these guys?” [laughs]
Band of the Day: What would be the best Reptar song to start off your day?
Ryan: Well, that all depends...what kind of day would you want to have?
Band of the Day: Let's say a hyper kind of day.
Graham: I would say, maybe, what about “Sweet Sippin' Soda”? 'Cause that song to me is like super twitchy. The recorded version has a lot of sounds that came out of nowhere and only happened once. So if you wanted to drink a shit ton of coffee, and listen to that song, and run at the same time, that would probably be the song to listen to.
Band of the Day: Ok, I'm not going to ask you about the origin of your band name [which comes from a character from the cartoon “Rugrats”], but I'll ask you this—if you were to place a Reptar song IN an episode of “Rugrats”, what song would you choose and which episode?
Graham: I do recall one where it's like [the film] “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”-esque
Band of the Day: Oh yeah! Where they go into Chucky's body?
Ryan: Yeah, he swallows a watermelon seed and they think it's gonna grow inside of him.
Graham: And there's an episode of “The Magic School Bus” where that happens, too.
Band of the Day: Oh yeah, in Arnie's body?
Graham: Yeah! And in both instances I realized that they go into the body of the ginger kid [laughs]!
Ryan: ...with glasses
Graham: Watch out, Ryan, we're going to infiltrate your body!
Band of the Day: What's a day from recording Body Faucet that really stands out for you?
Ryan: I think things started feeling really awesome on maybe the third day. We started to hit our stride, and figuring out what we wanted to be doing. The whole record started to come together, and we included things like orchestral percussion sounds in background, to try things that were less computerized. For a totally different reason, when we recorded “Three Shining Suns” also stands out. I was having, personally, a very intense day, and that song is really kind of soothing. To me there's a lot of low-boiled intensity and I was in this tumultuous place. So recording that song, it came out super ethereal, like dreaming your way through your problems.
Band of the Day: Do you think you'll always associate that song with these feelings?
Ryan: I think they will definitely always be a part of these songs, such intense associations, but they all kind of change every time you play them, both positively and negatively. “Phonetics” [from the Oblangle Fizz Y'all EP] is way different from when we first wrote it almost 3 years ago, and I feel very different about it now.
Band of the Day: In what way?
Ryan: Now I kind of associate it with change, because we've evolved so much since then. We've worked out all the different changes of feel, and style, and rhythm. It's the same three chords, and on an acoustic guitar it'd be the same over and over. But I guess now I associate it with how we've come so far from where that song originally came from. Also, the song “Houseboat Babies.” In 2009, the four of us moved in together. I remember playing that song at a house show in our living room, and it was awesome. I also distinctly remember playing it at Lollapalooza, and it just kind of flashes me back to all these different points in my life. A lot of times I'm playing it, I'll close my eyes and I'll be back in my living room, then I open them and I'm like, “What the fuck?” [laughs]
Band of the Day: Ok, so speaking of performing in your living room, I heard that a few of you guys have been arrested for throwing house parties. Now is your chance to send a message to the Athens police department; any words for them?
Ryan: [laughs] Oh man. I mean...I think the best way to say this is, “chill the fuck out.” It feels like a battle. Some of the officers are really nice, though. One time we were practicing late at night and one walked up and was like, “Hey, you can play as loud as you want for about half an hour or so, and just turn it down a little after,” so that was cool. But normally there's an us vs. them mentality, and I think a lot of drunken stupidity fosters that mentality in the community. So I guess I'd just like to say, I dunno, “Chill out, bros!”
Band of the Day: What's your dream house to throw a giant house party in?
Ryan: If we could throw a party in the White House, and have no politicians be there, if it could be an apolitical thing, that'd be cool. Like, whoever shows up just kinda takes over the White House, partying next to a bust of Abe Lincoln. I'd play flip cup with the marble statue of Lincoln!
Band of the Day: Imagine you're all on a vision quest. Who's the first to hallucinate, and what type of visions do you have?
Ryan: Our percussion player, Poof Daughtny, is kind of always in a state of shaman-like hallucination, so it's kind of unfair. That's why he's always so good at percussion, he's fighting off carnivorous animals. That's why our beats are so hard, he's literally fighting for his life!
Band of the Day: Keeping those spirits at bay?
Ryan: [laughs] Exactly!
Band of the Day: If you had to create a meal that represents Body Faucet, what would that involve?
Ryan: I'll pass you over to William [Kennedy, keyboardist] for this one.
William: Ok, so you know the character Mr. Tumnus in “Chronicles of Narnia,” and the feast he made for the children? So yeah, kind of like that, but with a couple of pizzas, dessert pizzas, as appetizers. Then it'd move into an Indian/Thai/Mexican fusion cuisine for the main course, definitely with lots of peanut butter in it, like a peanut butter Mexican/Thai explosion. It'd all be in this California-style wrap, with french fries, kind of melding all the different flavors. Maybe some California West Coast/classic Pakistani influences on the middle tracks, and a little spicy Southern twang. And then for dessert, an amalgamation of pistachio ice cream on those fried dough balls that are kinda like donuts.
Band of the Day: So basically an explosion of goodness all around? Just like your album?
Band of the Day: What would you say you appreciate most about each one of your bandmates?
William: Whoa, way too touchy-feely for me! I'm going to give you back to Ryan for that one.
Ryan: [laughs] What did you do to scare off William?
Band of the Day: Ask an Oprah-style touchy-feely question about what you appreciate most about each other!
Ryan: Well, I think one thing that's pretty awesome is that we've all known each other forever. We have a lot of history with each other, so sometimes things don't seem as dramatic as they'd otherwise seem. Everyone has a distinct, clear vision of where they want to be going, so there's also never a lack of ideas on what we should do next. Also, William has the best hair, Andrew has the best torso, and Graham definitely has the best butt...I definitely appreciate all of those things. You know, you can stop talking, but you really can't stop looking at them. They should at least be somewhat aesthetically appealing [laughs]!
Band of the Day: If you had to create an infomercial for Body Faucet, what would that look like?
Ryan: I think the Magic Bullet [blender] would probably have to be involved. What would happen is someone would go into a kid's room. I'm not sure who, maybe someone scary.
Band of the Day: Like a zombie [infomercial host] Billy Mays?
Ryan: Exactly! So Billy Mays zombie walks into some kid's room, who's listening to CDs – definitely Big Willie Style and the Titanic soundtrack - and he's gonna rip them out of his hands and put them in a magic bullet, maybe lose a finger or two, put them all up in a blender and mix that up into a nice smoothing, and serve it to the kids.
Band of the Day: All for the low, low price of just $19.99 plus shipping and handling?
Ryan: All for the low, low price of 17 payments of $19.99 and an 18th payment of your first-born child!