When college got in the way of playing shows, the guys in Reptar did the only thing that made sense: they dropped out. The Atlanta-based foursome, whose debut LP Body Faucet came out last month, were spread across the country, meeting up on weekends or over breaks to play shows. But as their crowds and opportunities grew bigger, the guys decided to put academic life on hold and see if life with their upbeat, intricate songs might be more educational. You wouldn’t expect anything else from a group that met at camp — but not just regular old summer camp. “I went to space camp in Huntsville, Ala. and met them there and it turned out that we were all living in Atlanta at the time,” keyboardist William Kennedy explains. So once the astronaut simulators landed, the kids launched their band. Calling themselves Festival, the three enlisted a drummer and began playing house parties around town, mostly for the benefit of their friends. It wasn’t until they moved away to attend college that Kennedy met McFarland and the Reptar line-up solidified.
The summer after their freshman year, the guys moved in together and started playing out with a vengeance, Kennedy estimates at about a show a week. And they went well. “It was weird to see that people actually liked our music, we had never had the experience of people we didn’t know actually coming to shows,” Kennedy says. “By the end of the summer, we actually had a decent amount of people coming out.”
It was at one of those shows that the band met Ben Allen, a producer who had worked with Animal Collective, Deerhunter and Washed Out. “He offered to record us for free,” Kennedy shrugs. “We didn’t have any recordings at the time, so why not? He had recorded some cool bands that we respected, so that brought some more attention to us and through that we got a booking agent, and a manager and a lawyer. That was a landmark in the band’s history.”
Indeed it was. With Allen the guys recorded their first releases — a 7-inch and five-song EP, and then Body Faucet, an exciting and complicated collection of tunes that Kennedy avoids putting a label on but, when pressed, describes as “a colossal flowing dream space chasm filled with sound, ideas and emotions.” Songs like “Sebastian” and “Please Don’t Kill Me,” which the band recorded live in the studio, offer bright music and captivating lyrics and make for both ideal background music and deep listening. It didn’t necessarily come easy. “It took about a month and a half of solid work on the record,” says Kennedy. “It was awesome, though, that going into the studio every day was our job.” And with U.S. and international tours on the horizon, the guys in Reptar seem to be doing their job rather well — maybe even to their own surprise. “We never imagined we would be doing any of this,” Kennedy says. “It was always a dream to be playing music instead of going to school.”