Brave Boys

Onward and upward with New York's official Next Big Thing

They've been touted in Rolling Stone as one of its "Ten Artists to Watch," NMEis fawning all over them, and the BBC's put them at the top of its Sound of 2005 poll, ahead of BLOC PARTY, KAISER CHIEFS, and THE GAME. And THE BRAVERY, the official Next Big Thing out of our fair city, don't even have a proper record out.

Just last May, they tore a page out of THE STROKES' handbook and played a club residency at Arlene's Grocery, hoping to draw enough people for all four weeks. They needn't have worried: As singer SAM ENDICOTT explained in December before they played the Spin magazine holiday party, "It was a good crowd the first week, and then it was full the second week, and the last two were sold out."

Settling with Island Def Jam in the U.S., the fivesome is freshly recovered from a high-profile record-company bidding war. Endicott downplays the hype: "The music industry is not what it once was. They do not have the money to throw around like they used to. What happened with us—if it had been in the '90s—would not have been considered that big a deal. We got a good amount of attention and we were very fortunate for that reason. It's just uncommon now." The self-titled CD is slated for a March 29 release.

They are now deep in the throes of an overseas media frenzy, following in the footsteps of what's turning out to be a rather long line of New York bands who broke in the U.K. first before gaining attention in the States: THE STROKES, YEAH YEAH YEAHS, INTERPOL, THE RAPTURE, THE SCISSOR SISTERS. Which, as it turns out, is all part of their master plan. "That was our idea," says guitarist MICHAEL ZAKARIN. "We had this idea of doing a residency thing in the U.K.," says Endicott. "It worked well in New York, so we said, 'Fuck it, we'll just do it there.' "

Their rise has not been without slipups. Like any new band, they could use a crash course in media relations, since they sometimes display more bravado than they've earned, despite their name. Endicott told NME, "Well, you know all those other bands we're compared to? The Strokes, THE KILLERS, all those bands? They're DANNY DEVITO. The Bravery are ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER." Keyboardist JOHN CONWAY told U.K. website XFM, "I don't own a radio or a television. Almost all other music is pretty poor."

And though they are usually compared to the Killers, a non-New York band that does the best imitation of a New York band, the Bravery are more closely aligned with that dirty word electroclash. Their songs are dance-based, more new wave than post-no wave. "During that period, dance clubs started playing more rock and roll, JOY DIVISION into AC/DC," says Endicott. "I could finally go to dance clubs, and it didn't feel like a fucking knife in my ear. For whatever reason, that happened during the electroclash period, and we started thinking we could make rock music that worked on a more organic level as a great live band, but also explored modern electronic technologies."

Bidding war and media hype aside, it's their DIY approach that's most impressive: The songs on the Unconditional EP (and the forthcoming album) were recorded at two of the members' home studios. They posted the songs on their website, and several radio jocks grabbed them simultaneously, including England's Radio 1, WFNX in Boston, and Live 105 in San Francisco.

"The best story is the guy from Boston," says Endicott. "He went to our website, downloaded the songs, and a few days later his iPod is on shuffle, and he was like, 'Why don't I just start playing this on the radio?' You know, record companies are spending zillions of dollars to record these albums, spending zillions of dollars to get the right radio mixes, all this bullshit, and we are just fucking doing it and putting it out on MP3." So brave.


The Bravery play January 29 at Northsix, 66 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, 718-599-5103.


tromano@villagevoice.com

 
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