The Bravery: Interview With Sam Endicott

—by , May 11, 2005

The BraveryBy now you have heard of The Bravery. You have shaken it to their submissively catchy single, “Honest Mistake,” you have read one of the endless articles calling them the “Next Big Thing,” and you have tried at least once to duplicate singer, Sam Endicott’s greased-up hairdo.

After being together for a mere two years, New York’s own, The Bravery have managed to attract a large bit of attention with their seemingly innocent blend of ’80s synth, dark bass lines, romantic lyrics, and pure sex. With their self-titled debut already at the top of the charts, a sold-out headlining club tour under their belts and a coveted slot at this year’s Coachella festival, The Bravery seem to be living up to the hype.

Out of breath, Endicott proved to me why that hype is in fact well sustained.

So, how was the tour with Ash? Headlining and selling out everywhere must have been a real trip.

That was awesome. It was interesting for our first full-out U.S. tour and in a way it really was our first proper tour, because in the UK you sort of live out in London for a few then go somewhere much smaller, so you don’t feel like it’s a touring in that sense. In America you’re stuck in a can for two months and it’s a tour, so it was a really good experience.

What is your prior singing experience? Is it true you took voice lessons over the phone?

Yeah, that’s totally true. I couldn’t sing a note. I was too shy, but I was always into music. I was a bass player, so when I started I just decided to do something completely new. I wanted to write songs that meant something to me personally and sing them myself. I have a friend back in Maryland. She was a vocal instructor at my High School, so she gave me voice lessons over the phone. It worked, so I advise that method, but you have to be serious and have someone serious teaching you.

What were you looking to do when you formed the band?

I’d been in bands before, but never anything that meant something to me personally. There were also these synthetic cool sounds and musicians have access to an incredible wide range of sounds now more so than in the past, because it’s so cheap now, but every band that was using that kind of thing didn’t have a kick ass live rock band behind it and nothing beats that, so I was like, what if I could do both?

The name, you said comes from overcoming a sense of fear and worthlessness. Do you feel you’ve accomplished that with your music?

I am who I am and I’ll always deal with that. It’s just my nature, but I definitely think I have a greater sense of purpose now because I feel like I have some direction.

How did you capture that through recording? It was very unusual. It started with just me and John (our keyboardist) in our bedrooms using an I-Mac, this incredibly cheap Radioshack mic and some shitty amp that someone left behind. Our computer couldn’t handle the songs. It kept crashing, but it sounded cool in a really amateur, messy way. By the time we played it live we had most of the album done already. That’s why things came together quickly for us, because we put this album online and people started downloading it like crazy and some radio stations just started playing the mp3s.

I know you have mostly punk influences, who in particular?

I have influences from all over the place, but punk was a big part of my upbringing. Fugazi is my favorite band. That’s where I got the idea of these melodic driving bass lines, and bass is a really big part of our sound and also this idea that you can make good stuff at home using whatever equipment you have laying around. Then I got into classical songwriting, bands like The Beatles and then I fell in love with early punk like The Clash and the Ramones. You can see how they were fusing those two elements; taking good songwriting and doing it in a really homemade way. There was a violent energy to it that I loved.

How do you feel about being lumped into the ’80s revival genre? Do you think that is fair to say?

I don’t think it’s fair, but I understand why people say that. I don’t think anyone who’s a musician would say that though. People just say that because we’re using synth and because we wear eye makeup, we’re a new wave band. Synth music is definitely an influence, but it wasn’t our intention to be nostalgic like that and I think there are a lot of influences like that. I think that ‘Honest Mistake’ is a particularly ’80s-sounding song, but when people start to hear the rest of the album, they won’t think that way.

Did you find it tough being a band in NYC?

When we first started, we didn’t give a shit if anyone was there. It was more about us having fun playing and we’d play anywhere. We would get like a 6 o’clock show on a Monday at some dive bar and our circle of friends, ex-girlfriends and siblings would come and they would bring their friends and after six months we had a decent following. Then we just promoted the shit out of it. We burned CDs and set up a residency at Arlene’s Grocery. That was almost a year ago. Wow, that’s pretty amazing.

What do you want people to think when they hear the name The Bravery?

Shaking their ass, people wanting to get into it on a deeper level, thinking about the lyrics and paying attention to the music. But, the most important thing is that people shake their ass on the dance floor.

The Bravery is in stores now and the band plays Irving Plaza on May 16. For more information check out thebravery.com


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