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SCHED* SXSW 2011 has ended
Sunday, March 20 • 12:45am - 1:45am
The Bravery

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Some of the longest waits are the most worth it. You'd be forgiven for thinking you'd heard the last of The Bravery – the NYC future-synth post-punks who rampaged through the UK in 2005-6 with their thunderous Top Ten hit 'An Honest Mistake' and the inspired eponymous Top Five album from which it sprang. A record that combined electronica, funk, pop and punk in such dazzling combinations it resembled, by turn, a psychopathic electro-punk outfit, The Strokes wired to the National Grid and no band we'd ever heard the like of before. With their hard drinking, wild partying and songs of electrifying brilliance, The Bravery seemed sure to burn bright and brief. Far from it: in their absence from the UK spotlight – prompted by wrangles with their UK label which stymied the release of their second album in Britain - they've become one of America's most runaway success stories. 'We've been focussing on the States,' says Sam Endicott, somewhat modestly. 'It was great – [2007 single] 'Time Won't Let Me Go' was the biggest hit that we had and then [its follow up] 'Believe' came out and was even bigger than that. It was a really ubiquitous song in America for a long time. Touring America takes forever so we got used to touring constantly and played with a lot of great bands.' He considers all of his major US and UK hits, his mountain of radio plays, his standing as one of the most sought-after songwriters in America today. And he sighs a sigh full of appreciation and relief. 'We have the best fans.' The Bravery, you see, were never quitters. This is the band, formed in 2003 around the core of Sam and keyboardist John Conway, who built a die-hard fanbase with exhaustive tours and residencies in New York and London throughout 2004. Who were among the first to utilise Myspace long before The Arctic Monkeys had even found the boot button. And the band who, even when their star was in the ascendance in the UK, never slacked - at one point in May 2005 they hired helicopters to play three gigs in one day. This was a band too dedicated and determined to be throttled to death by a little bit of red tape. 'All the stuff that happened in the UK was exactly the sort of thing we swore we'd never get involved with,' says Sam, 'the industry battles, the red tape, the bureaucracy. So we just said 'we're not gonna do that anymore' so we left. In the States there was none of that, we could just put out music and be a band, so it was very free-ing.' The Bravery threw themselves into conquering their homeland instead, with spectacular results. Having toured supporting the likes of U2 and Depeche Mode, in 2007 they embarked upon three solid years of touring the States (including a stint on Green Day's stadium tour), recording new material in bedrooms and the back of the bus as they went. The twelve songs that started coming together were amorphous beat-beasts, and The Bravery struck on a concept worthy of their name. After recording a slick, less synth-heavy studio version of the songs over a month in producer Brendan O'Brian's studio in Atlanta and releasing it as second album 'The Sun And The Moon', they completed their more electro-fried self-recorded versions and released 'The Sun And The Moon Complete': a 2CD set consisting of the same twelve songs recorded in opposite ways – one CD (the 'Moon' side) of their lo-fi home recorded versions and one slick studio version ('Sun'). 'It's interesting because some people gravitate more towards one side and some towards the other,' Sam claims. 'When you hear a song recorded in two different ways you understand it better, you get more of a full perspective of it.' Like a modern day 'Melon Collie And The Infinite Sadness', the album made a huge splash in the States, debuting at Number 24 in the US album chart and spawning two major radio hits – widescreen Americana first single 'Time Won't Let Me Go' broke the Alternative Top Ten while the funk-pop follow-up 'Believe' reached US indie classic status, staying at Number Four in the Modern Rock charts for six weeks. As 2009 dawned, however, not everything was going Sam's way. 'We'd been touring a very long time, too much. I had a very long relationship and ultimately all the touring destroyed it, so I was pissed at that, angry with the whole thing. And that was reflected in the music. I often write journals or on scraps of paper or napkins and I'd go back and read these scraps of paper and a lot of them would be really angry. I used to not show that to anyone, I'd hide these things. So I thought it was time for me to put that side out there. 'Stir The Blood' is an expression that means to awaken yourself, to create energy, to revitalise.' Hence The Bravery's third album 'Stir The Blood' – recorded in a disused church in upstate New York over the summer of 2009 with producer John Hill and released in the US in December 2009 – was a return to their churlish electronic roots. 'It's a darker album. That's the place where I was at the time, that's how I was feeling. So it was more angry than the previous album. We wanted to take it back to where we started, in the basement.' Darkness? Anger? It was right there in the subterranean J&MC atmospheres and self-destructive intent of the (remarkably catchy, considering) first single 'Slow Poison'. Or in 'Adored', the escape song based on a story Sam was told in a New Orleans bar called Bucket Of Blood by a couple who'd barely survived Hurricane Katrina. Or in the anger sex of 'Hatefuck', complete with a video, directed by bassist Mike 'Dirt' Hindert, which features a girl in a gas mask cutting a vagina into a man's groin. Vicious, terrifying and sado-masochistic stuff, but as Sam explains, 'a lot of the songs are about the intensity of being in love and how that can turn on itself. To me it's about transcending, about taking something positive out of a negative situation. There was a positive thing that comes out of all the songs. There's a transcendence.' He chuckles to himself. 'The guy that mixed our last album said that our songs are happy from the waist down and sad from the waist up.' It's the waist-down element that's turned Sam into one of US pop's most significant modern songwriters, though. John Hill had connections with MIA and Santigold and so - while working on Bravery music together, writing up to ten songs a day - Sam suddenly found a new outlet for the tracks that didn't fit his band. Before he knew it he'd penned three songs for Shakira's last album (including worldwide hit 'She Wolf') and was working with Santigold on a song for Christina Aguilera's forthcoming record. So how does he feel about being the man who made the globe howl like a weremodel? 'It was something I stumbled into,' Sam explains. 'I'd write a song and think it wouldn't make sense for me to do it. So what do I do? Throw it out? I started to realise I could give these things to other people, so it's very creative. Sometimes I get to write with really interesting people, I've been doing hip-hop and R&B stuff. I can do a hip-hop song and learn something about The Bravery.' And if The Bravery weren't already becoming a cultural force all of their own, their brand new track 'Ours' also turned up as a main song on the latest Twilight movie soundtrack. 'We wrote it with no intention of the Twilight thing,' Sam says, 'but the woman who was in charge of making the soundtrack heard a demo of the song and really liked it. The Twilight soundtrack is its own phenomenon.' Not bad for a band who've spent half a decade in 'the wilderness', huh? And finally Britain is about to get its chance to fall for The Bravery all over again – with their label issues finally resolved, they hit the UK again at the start of the year for a residency at London's Hoxton Bar And Kitchen and nationwide dates, ahead of a record release later in the year. 'We couldn't be happier, very excited,' Sam enthuses. 'We always loved playing the UK, we toured there more than any non-British band during that period. We're very happy to be free of the past situation and ready to come back.' Y'know, you just don't know what you've got 'til its gone. And some other country is hogging it…
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The Bravery

Some of the longest waits are the most worth it. You'd be forgiven for thinking you'd heard the last of The Bravery – the NYC future-synth post-punks who rampaged through the UK in 2005-6 with their thunderous Top Ten hit 'An Honest Mistake' and the inspired eponymous Top Five album from which it sprang. A record that combined electronica, funk, pop and punk in such dazzling combinations it resembled... Read More →


Sunday March 20, 2011 12:45am - 1:45am
Stubb's 801 Red River St

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