In its native homeland of New Zealand, electro/hip-hop/pop outfit Rapture Ruckus has no trouble selling out pretty much every show and rocking out festivals in front of tens of thousands. In fact, DVD footage of the Brad Dring-led band performing to over 25,000 fans at the venerable Parachute Music Festival made its way to BEC Recordings, who signed the high-octane act within seconds in 2010. An ensuring self-titled EP helped introduced the veteran producer/songwriter and his cohorts to American audiences, and now its first Stateside long player Open Your Eyes serves as the official culmination of the past ten years spent overseas.
“We’ve been going for a long time and built up our audience back home, but it’s a pretty small country with only four million people, so we got to the point where we toured as much as we could over there,” explains Dring, who’s nonetheless profusely thankful for all of that support. “Now that we’re spending so much more time in America, it’s like starting from scratch meeting new people. But we’ve got a very simple strategy and that’s to build it up organically the same way we did back home. We did 100 shows in America last year, are up to 130 this year and are always committed to taking a massive show with us wherever we go. We actually use the same production here as we would use in New Zealand, which includes a 40-foot super wide LED screen, because we want to bring our full game over here.”
Though Rapture Ruckus’ live experience is nothing short of jaw dropping, the most important element is the music itself, which as Open Your Eyes so aptly relates, is a beat-driven blur between four on the floor dance grooves, explosive hip-hop and electronic pop, all wrapped around alternative rock attitude. While comparisons are practically impossible, remarks of reminiscence have ranged from the Black Eyed Peas to Linkin Park to Daft Punk or The Killers.
“If you listen to our older material, we started out as a straight up hip-hop group, but slowly evolved into more of the rock and pop side with a real British, electro glam aspect to what we do,” continues Dring. “It’s not rap and it’s not rock; it’s definitely it’s own thing. This is a full band with big ‘80s synths backed by big production both on the stage and in the recording studio.”
Though Rapture Ruckus self-produced much of Open Your Eyes, a scan through the new album’s credits also includes assistance from Family Force 5’s Solomon Olds and the Atlanta collective ZK Productions (Outkast, Cartel, Mayday Parade). Even Stu G, legendary guitarist for Delirious, pops up to lend his six string skills on several tracks.
In fact, there’s a myriad of creative fingerprints throughout the lead single “This Little Light,” an up-tempo synth rock/dance throw down about burning up the darkness through the bright light of God’s truth, along with “The Air That I Breathe,” which towers as a stadium-like anthem about complete dependence on Christ in the midst of natural disaster (such as the mighty earthquakes that recently shook New Zealand).
“The album is about seeing the world through God’s eyes and realizing that there’s so much out there, whether it be beautiful or painful, that we can’t see with our own eyes,” confides Dring. “The title track in particular talks about a couple of everyday stories and what people are facing behind closed doors. But even if people are going through challenges, the message is meant to be uplifting and encouraging. There’s enough people pointing fingers and our goal in Rapture Ruckus is to lift people up from their burdens and leave our show feeling like a million bucks. We want people to hear our music and go away feeling better than when they came in.”
Much of Rapture Ruckus’ desires stem from Dring’s own period of wandering, who despite growing up in a Christian household, turned towards a more destructive lifestyle throughout his teen years. Having been diagnosed with dyslexia, high school as a whole was a sore subject, and outside of the productivity found in jazz band and his own musical explorations, most of his time was spent with drugs and drinking.
“God really showed up one night in the backseat of a friend’s car when I was 19 and He basically pointed out the downward spiral my life was heading down,” the born again believer relates. “He showed me where that path would lead if I didn’t change, and the next morning I found myself going to church with my mom and finally putting my life in God’s hands.”
As a result, Rapture Ruckus’ music is literally designed to impact all audiences, from those who already know the Word and are looking for an undeniable dose of energy, to those unfamiliar with faith that are simply drawn to the group’s hypnotic beats and relatable songwriting style.
“We want to draw people closer to God, but we just try to be really organic and relate to people where they’re at,” adds Dring. “We don’t want to burden people down and there’s not much of an agenda other than just wanting to love on people. We’re just guys who are going through the same stuff as anybody else and we just want people to know that God loves you so much that He saved a bunch of screw ups like us.”