Interview: Sam Endicott of The Bravery

March 08, 2007 04:15 PM
by Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
LiveDaily Contributor

Sam Endicott, lead singer for The Bravery, laughs when he thinks about rivalries his band had with several other acts, most notably with labelmates The Killers.

"I think we were really naïve, and when people would talk s--- about us, we would talk s--- back," Endicott said via telephone from his label's offices. "So, instead of clamming up, we would talk s--- back, and the press really liked that, especially the British press. But I would say that we never talk smack about anyone who didn't start with us first."

Endicott is in an especially jovial mood because he is working on the artwork for his band's forthcoming album, "The Sun and the Moon," which he describes as a stark departure from The Bravery's self-titled debut.

"We're working with some [art] designers at the label right now," he said. "We're super excited about the album. We just finished it last week and we're very happy with it. I wish it could come out tomorrow, but it can't, of course."

The tentative release date for "The Sun and the Moon" is May 22, but Endicott expects music to be released to radio within the next few weeks.

In preparation for the album's release, Endicott and his bandmates-- guitarist Michael Zakarin, bassist Mike "Dirt" Hindert, keyboardist John Conway and drummer Anthony "Ant" Burulcich--will play a series of one-off dates, including a stint at Austin, TX's South by Southwest music festival.

Endicott talked to LiveDaily about South by Southwest, "The Sun and the Moon" and touring with Depeche Mode.

LiveDaily: This year, you're returning to South by Southwest. How was it the last time you played?

Sam Endicott: It was pretty awesome when we did it last time. It was the most grueling experience of my life. We did, like, 25 shows in two days. We were out all night every night and barbecuing all day. OK, it wasn't 25 shows, but that's what it felt like. I think it was, like, five shows in two days.

What do you get out of SXSW?

The barbecue. Honestly, there so many other cool bands you can see if you have time, which we don't, usually. You can catch some really great bands. It's just a really good time. Everybody there has a really good time.

Your new album is slated for release in May. What can you tell me about it? How does it compare to "The Bravery"?

It is very different, but it still sounds like The Bravery. It just sounds more like The Bravery. It's a lot more diverse than the first record. We tried to make every song a dance song and have the whole album be a dance record [on the first album]. This one is more diverse. There's slow songs. There's fast songs. There's two acoustic songs on it. What we try to do is, we write rock songs and we try to put in different unusual sounds and rhythms. That's, in a nutshell, what we try to do. On the first record, we got a lot of those sounds from electronic dance music--disco beats and analog keyboard sounds. On this one, we tried to look other places for unusual sounds. We listened to a lot of classic rock. There's a lot more acoustic sounds. For example, on the first record, where we might take a synthesizer and play that, now we'll do it with a string section, or our voice with some crazy-ass effect, or, like, a Russian glockenspiel, some kind of weird acoustic instrument. So there's lot more experimentation on this record.

It must have been a lot of fun to be able to mess around like that..

Yeah, it was. I think we're a lot better musicians now than when we did the first one. So we had to get our s--- together to play the new songs on the new record. They're a lot more challenging to play.

Did you feel like you had a lot more freedom on this album? Is that why you explored these avenues?

Yeah, we intentionally limited ourselves on the first one. Like I said, we tried to make everything a dance song. You just put the record on, and it doesn't stop until the end--whereas, this one is more about whatever song I wrote, we would just do whatever it took to make that song sound right. If it had nothing to do with dance music, then we just went with that. Or, if it was a total dance song, we went with that. There's a waltz on the album too. So, we just experimented in whatever direction we happened to go in.

Describe your songwriting process.

I usually write the basis of the song, just, really simply, the vocals and the lyrics on acoustic guitar or keyboard or something. Then, we start jamming on it, and we record everything, and then, once that's recorded, we kind of remix it. It's a lot like how DJs make music, or how electronic music is made. Instead of using samples, we create all the samples ourselves and remix it. That's what you hear. At the beginning, it's just like writing any acoustic music. It's just about the melody and the words.

So you write mainly on the acoustic guitar?

I'm not a great piano player. ... People usually write on guitar or piano. Not a lot of guys start on the accordion or the clarinet. It doesn't start that way. I usually do acoustic guitar, because that's what I'm better at.

How long have you been playing music?

Since I was a little kid. I started out with electric guitar and then bass was my main instrument. I was a bass player all through school growing up. I was really into bass.

Who were some of your inspirations?

I grew up on classic rock: The Beatles, The Stones, The Who. In high school, I discovered punk rock, and that changed my life. Being a white suburban kid, punk rock really spoke to me. I was from the DC area, so I was into the Dischord Records sound and Fugazi was my favorite band, and Jawbox, and I listened to the older ones like Righteous Spring and Nation of Ulysses. And then I moved to New York and I started hearing all the underground electronic stuff like electroclash, and it sounded to me like people were making electronic music in the way you make garage rock: just set up in your basement. Instead of drums and guitar, it's just a computer. I really like that. So, the idea was to make rock music in a way that people make lo-fi dance records. That's how we started.

What was it like to tour with Depeche Mode?

It was great. It's really inspiring to be around them. I don't know if people realize but they have 11 or 12 records. They've been around, like, 25 years. They're really consistent. They've gone through three or four periods where people would say that was their prime. They keep coming back, and keep being good and changing their sound and being current. It's inspiring to be around them.

When do you anticipate touring on "The Sun and the Moon"?

We're going to start doing a few one-off dates, like SXSW, and then, in May, we'll start full-on touring madness.

Are you excited about being back on the road?

Yeah, it's funny--touring is like eating a chocolate cake. It's the most fun thing in the world. But then, if all you do all day every day is eat chocolate cake, you get really sick of it. That's what it's like by the end of a year and a half on the road. You'd think I'd never want to tour again. But then, when you're away from it for a month, you're like, "I don't know what to do with myself. I can't wait to get back on stage." That's where we're all at now.

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