Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Bravery interview

My story originally appeared in IE Weekly. The band plays Stinger's Bar and Nightclub in San Bernardino on Friday and House of Blues Anaheim on Sunday.

Talk about Halloween synergy.

New York City alt-rock band The Bravery, whose ominous third release Stir the Blood drops on Dec. 1, headlines X103.9 FM’s Haunted Masquerade Ball. Fittingly, the title comes from a new track called “Jack O’Lantern Man.”

“It’s an expression that means ‘get your passions going,’” vocalist Sam Endicott explains from a Florida tour stop. “For us, this album felt like an infusion of energy. We had this really creative environment going on – sort of a new beginning. Some songs are darker with a little violent undertone.”

Endicott enlisted John Hill (Santogold, M.I.A.) - his collaborator on such side projects as the recent Shakira hit “She Wolf” - to man the studio boards. It was partially recorded inside an abandoned church located in upstate New York.

“We wanted more ambient, dreamier sounds. We used the church acoustics to manipulate the keyboards and guitars in ways we hadn’t done before. John is a mastermind with that shit. He brought a lot” to the table.

For 2007’s polished Brendan O’Brien-produced The Sun and the Moon (featuring top 10 alt-rock hits “Believe” and “Time Won’t Let Me Go”), the band was influenced by classic rock and utilized string sections. Blood was just the opposite. “We listened to everything current.”

The gauzy atmospherics of “Sugar Pill,” where Endicott sings in a deep baritone, is an intriguing departure.

“On the first album, everything was like a party,” he says. “The second one has some of that, but we tried branching out a lot. There’s even acoustic songs. This one is more of a return to the [beginning] with upbeat, dance rhythms. ‘Sugar Pill’ and ‘She’s So Bendable’ are good examples of slower songs we couldn’t have done when we started.”

They channel Seventies disco production master Giorgio Moroder (Blondie, Donna Summer) on a dirty, synth-driven “I Have Seen the Future,” the hazy, melodic “Slow Poison” recalls Love & Rockets and the yearning sensuality of “I Am Your Skin” has a distinct early ‘90s Depeche Mode vibe.

After graduating from Vassar College in the late ‘90s, Endicott immersed himself in the NYC electroclash scene and assembled The Bravery in 2003 through mutual friends and a local music paper ad. The quintet built a local following, posted some songs on their MySpace page/web site and got airplay at alt-rock radio stations. BBC Radio 1 in London immediately playlisted the Goth-looking guys’ tunes, while the NME spotlighted their hard partying ways. A successful European tour and EP followed.

Endicott grew up in the D.C. area and was inspired by D.I.Y. ethic of Dischord Records’ post-punk groups. The Bravery’s self-titled debut was recorded at his apartment for $7000 using an old iMac. Island Records put out the new wave-leaning effort in 2005. “An Honest Mistake” reached the top 10 in the U.K. and U.S. Modern Rock charts.

Opening for U2 and Depeche Mode provided a glimpse at what the future could offer The Bravery. “To see bands like that putting out really good songs over 25 fucking years is really impressive,” Endicott says. “It’s not like they had one golden period making music - [more like] three or four.”

That timeframe also saw The Bravery making IE appearances at Coachella (they appeared in the 2006 compilation DVD) and KROQ Inland Invasion. A high profile slot at England’s Glastonbury Festival made headlines there after bassist Mike Hindert stripped naked onstage and hurled himself at the drums.

“He used to get onstage and drink like a case of beer. He’s a lot more creative now and doesn’t do that shit as much anymore.” Not only did Hindert handle lead vocals on the dense, Jesus & Mary Chain-leaning “She’s So Bendable” off Blood, he also crafted the creepy first video for “Hate Fuck.”

“He’s in a much more creative space, which is good.”

The grainy, black and white clip comes across like a low budget 1940s horror movie. People wear gas masks and continuously pour mysterious liquid into a bathtub before one scantily clad lady apparently commits murder (view it at

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