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By Phil Bonyata
Livewire's exclusive interview with
The Braverys' Sam Endicott
Sept. 29, 2007
Hailing from the musically fertile streets of New York City - The Bravery initially carved out a niche in the popular retro '80s new wave/synth rock movement. The band was involved in a highly publicized feud with genre mates The Killers. Killers' lead singer Brandon Flowers had claimed that The Bravery "were riding on the coat tails of The Killers' initial success." The feud has ended and so has the initial buzz surrounding The Bravery. Time to focus on the music and what's going to make a band have an artistically long career. With their latest album The Sun and the Moon - The Bravery have turned down their synthesizers and turned up the creativity. The music is organically warmer and liberally dosed with a jagged punk aesthetic. While The Killers have grown musically certainly so have The Bravery. This time, however it's their turn to unfurl the coat tails.
Livewire's Phil Bonyata caught up with lead singer Sam Endicott to discuss commercial success, selling out and the last time a repoter asks him a question about The Killers.
Livewire: Do you think that the band has lived up to The Village Voices' 2005 proclamation that The Bravery were "New York's Official Next Big Thing?"
Sam: (laughs) Um, yeah we definitely have been for awhile and that was sort of a weird and magical time (laughs) and now I'm glad that we're sort of settled into our own thing and we're just, you know, being a band. That was a weird period in my life and now were just a band.
Livewire: Do you feel that you're more popular right now or less popular than a couple of years ago?
Sam: Well, it's hard to say - we play bigger shows now and our single's more popular in the States. I don't know, I really don't think too much about that stuff because if you get sucked into that stuff it will just eat your soul out.
Livewire: You couldn't pay for better publicity than with your high profile feud with The Killers. Is the war of words finally over?
Sam: Uh, yes it's been over for a long time. No, I've never talked to Brandon (Flowers - of The Killers) about it. I've only met him once.
Livewire: That question bores the hell out of you doesn't it?
Sam: Um, yes. (laughs)
Livewire: Last year you toured with Depeche Mode - how big of an influence was their sound on The Bravery?
Sam: You know before we did the tour I was like a passing fan of theirs. I knew like the big hits and I liked that stuff, but I really didn't know them all that well and then going on tour with them I got a whole new level of respect. They have a huge body of work that is great and they've been consistently great over the years and they're a good live band - they totally kick ass! They kind of go about it the same way we do which is their live show is more organic and rock 'n' roll then their recordings. There is a lot more interplay between the band live and that's how we go about it as well.
Livewire: Give me some new bands today that are making waves in your eyes.
Sam: Um, I really suck at listening to new bands. people always ask me about that, but I really don't spend much time listening to current bands. (laughs) I should, but I listen mostly to older stuff. I listen to my own music a lot of the times because I'm always writing new stuff. I'm definitely not digging for the "new sound" but stuff will filter back. Like my friends say "you gotta hear this - this is great." If I want to hear something I'll try to make it myself. I guess when I get sick of writing and recording then I'll start listening to it.
Livewire: Why did you choose the song "Rocket" to play on the Smashing Pumpkins tribute?
Sam: I just always really liked that song. I didn't want to do one that was super obvious - you know like one of their giant hits. "Rocket" has always been one of my favorites and so that's how that happened.
Livewire: You're playing with the Pumpkins on a few dates - what do you think of the band playing without D'arcy and James Iha?
Sam: Well, it's too bad that they're all not there. My understanding was that Billy and Jimmy wrote and played all the parts and if I'm not mistaken Billy plays all of the parts on the first two records in the studio. I don't think D'arcy or Iha even play on the first two records. On Gish and Siamese Dream I'm pretty sure Billy re-recorded all the bass and guitar parts and that's why they almost broke up.
Livewire: Is there a band or artist that The Bravery would never tour with?
Sam: (laughs) I don't know...we have a history of touring with really weird bands. You know, music that is different then ours and it's a great way to pick up new fans.
Livewire: I saw you at Lollapalooza two years ago and I got some really nice photos of you - what do you prefer doing - festivals or headlining a tour?
Sam: Yeah, I look really hot on stage. (laughs) It's always more fun playing to your own fans and you get that connection there. Festivals are totally crazy - like a complete cluster fuck. You don't know if your equipment is going to work or if you're going to get electrocuted. You really don't know what the fuck is going to happen. It's all crazy and fucked up and that can be really annoying and on the other hand you have that sense of danger which can be fun. Another cool thing about festivals is that a lot of people may not be familiar with your music that are going to see you. We do like playing to new people.
Livewire: When bassist Mike Hindert stripped naked on stage at 2005's Glastonbury Festival - what were you thinking?
Sam: I'm thinking this is hilarious and he's probably really going to regret this.
Livewire: Buck naked right?
Sam: I think he had his sneakers on. (laughs) He did it because it was really, really hot.
Livewire: The band has been on quite a few talk shows - which host was the funniest?
Sam: A lot of them really don't talk to you that much. They've all been really friendly - Letterman doesn't talk to you at all outside of shaking your hand after your performance. Like Leno is the opposite, he came out and hung out with us in the dressing room and talked about cars. A couple of the guys in the band are really into motorcycles and Leno has this large collection and that's all it took. (laughs) Conan and Kimmel were really friendly. In fact, Conan talked about pompadours for awhile.
Livewire: Is the life of a rock 'n' roll star on the road overrated or exactly how the romantics portray it?
Sam: Um...It is much better and much worse than you could imagine. We constantly are changing out tour buses because they are constantly breaking down or blowing up or whatever. We got kicked off our last one because we're too dirty and we smashed a mirror. The bus driver ratted us out. Now we have a new bus and it exploded while we were driving. Yeah it burst into flames and then they gave us this shitty bus and we'll be getting rid of that one soon. That's like three buses in two weeks. (laughs)
Livewire: Do you have a drug of choice?
Sam: Definitely caffeine. I will drink more Red Bull then you can imagine - I live on Red Bull. Yeah, we're sponsored by Red Bull - we can get unlimited free Red Bull. You just call 'em and they'll bring cases of it wherever you are.
Livewire: If Red Bull asked you to license a Bravery song for one of their commercials - what would you do?
Sam: Probably wouldn't do it.
Livewire: Everybody else is doing it - Feist, The Pogues, Iggy Pop...why not you? Is it a sellout to sell your music for a commercial?
Sam: No that's ridiculous - the culture is different now then it used to be. Music permeates everything. Everyone has the soundtrack of their life - literally now. You take music with you everywhere you go. You put it in your car and you have at work in your computer and you have it with you when you're walking around. It's constant and you have your iPod and satellite radio and you choose the kind of music you want and the future is going to more that way. Everything is right at your fingertips where and when you want it. So music is on commercials and on video games, in movies you know music that people want is brought to them -you're totally surrounded by it. I think it's a good thing. I mean if you're making music that has a specific political message and used in a context completely opposite of that or outside of that - I'm not cool with that. Like when Nike used "Revolution." That really sucked. I mean The Beatles didn't own the rights to it. That song shouldn't be used to sell sneakers. But, most songs that don't have a political agenda - I think it's great wherever they're used.
Livewire: Do you see this has perhaps the death of the "album?"
Sam: Yeah, it's sad, but I think it's going to go back to how it was when it all started. It all started out as singles. It will be where now where the single sells, but the true fan can get the album where it will be more in depth and interesting. But, obviously they're not going to sell as many albums. You're going to make your money off of singles and you're going to have to put out singles pretty often! Instead of one album every two years it's going to be an EP every six months. I mean look at The Beatles - they put out like 11 albums in seven years.
Livewire: On your latest record you seemed to evolve from the the '80s style synth pop to a more mature and complex sound. Was it purely intentional to stray away from the sound that made you famous or was this part of the creative musical process?
Sam: Yeah, I mean we still love synthesizers and we're making a remix album right now. We were just trying to explore new sounds. We used a lot of acoustic instruments like instead of putting a synth of everything. We messed around with vintage organs and strings using vocals like harmony effects, for example.
Livewire: When do you expect your next record out?
Sam: It's sort of hard to explain it's like the second half of The Sun and the Moon It's kind of like a remix album - it's all the same songs like unrecognizably different.
Livewire: Besides the stupid questions (mine included) - what do you hate most about doing interviews?
Sam: (laughs) Um, you know the stupid questions. Like the one we hate the most is "What is the bravest thing you've ever done?"