New York synth rocker outfit The Bravery may be the dark horse of this weekend’s jam band and reggae-fueled West Beach Music Festival – but that surely won’t stop them from having a good time. With a new album on the horizon (the band will release Slow Poison this November) and a national headlining tour kicking off in just a few weeks, the five-piece has plenty to celebrate, including a short-but-sweet S.B. homecoming for keyboardist John Conway.
I recently caught up with Bravery frontman Sam Endicott to chat about the album, the tour, and how it feels to make Shakira howl.
You guys have a new record on the way. How far along is the album currently? It’s almost done. We’re in the studio mixing it right now. It’ll be done in a couple more weeks.
I’m sure you have to keep pretty quiet about things. Can you tell me a bit about the sound of the record though? I’d say this album is more like our first album in the sense that it’s electronic, but it is different than either of our past albums in the sense that it sounds like it’s underwater. It’s a little spacey-er.
Is that the production, or the lyrical matter? Well there’s no songs about being underwater. [Laughs.] Actually, that’s not true, there is one. [Laughs.]
The band has continued to play shows throughout the recording process. Are you using these shows as a way of working through new material? Yes. It always helps to play in front of an audience. Things feel differently and it can often make it more clear in your head what is working and what isn’t.
I’ve heard great things from people who caught you guys opening for Green Day. How was that experience from your end of things? It was a bit strange because it was a very different crowd for us, but they were very receptive crowds. It was a lot of fun because we got to play a lot of the new songs for the first time. We also got to get back in front of people, which we hadn’t done in eight months. Also, we got to tour Canada the first time. I like Canada – it’s like a cleaner, more pleasant version of the States.
You guys also brought John Hill in to produce the new record. How did you guys team up? He and I did a remix together a long time ago and we’ve been friends ever since. He’s a super creative guy and really innovative sonically. He has a lot of recording ideas that are very progressive, so we thought it would be really fun to work with him on a full album.
And you yourself have expressed interest in producing. I produced a lot of The Bravery’s stuff and I want to get into producing for other artists, but it’s always been a time problem because I’m either doing our stuff or on the road. I’m trying to figure out ways to do more of that. Doing the Shakira song [“She Wolf”] was really fun.
Have you seen the video? For “She Wolf?” Yeah, it’s crazy. I love it. It’s really bizarre.
You and John both co-wrote the song. How did that teaming come about? She had talked to John about working together, so he and I made the music for it and then she wrote lyrics for it.
No offense, but you guys don’t necessarily strike me as the type of band that plays on a lot of beaches – how did you get brought on board for the West Beach Festival? It was random. They contacted us about it and asked us if we wanted to do it, and we thought, ‘This is different. It’s weird. Let’s do it.’ We like to do things that are kind of weird and unexpected. : The other thing is that John, our keyboard player, is from Santa Barbara, so we spend a lot of time there. It’s kind of a home away from home.
Given the overriding theme of the weekend, do you have a favorite new school or old school reggae act? Early stuff, like Skatalites, early Bob Marley, Baba Brooks, things like that – the Studio One stuff.
The Bravery plays Bob’s Stage of the West Beach Music Festival this Saturday, September 19 at 4:20 p.m. For full concert and lineup details, including tickets and VIP passes, call 963-4408 or visit westbeachfestival.com.