Sam Endicott, frontman bass player to the popular indie rock and electronica band, The Bravery, met keyboardist John Conway in art school where they played any kind of music they could get there hands on—from punk to country to jazz to metal. In the early ‘00s they moved to New York, where they discovered the Electroclash scene in full swing and collected the rest of the eclectic band members (of varying experience, at the time), Anthony Burulcich, Michael Zakarin, and Mike Hindert. The Bravery were early users of MySpace, and that, combined with applying the old-fashioned marketing technique of standing on street corners, handing out CDs, helped launch The Bravery to the heights (and the tour schedules) the band enjoys today. Their recently released The Sun and the Moon: Complete (March ‘08) is followed close on the heels by the “Moon” side, which the band is touring for, now. The Bravery will then kick off the summer by joining Linkin Park in the 2008 Projekt Revolution Tour beginning mid-July.
Sam descends from the band’s busy orbit to talk with PopMatters 20 Questions about rude bus drivers, the beauty of thumbprints, and his somewhat disconcerting (but dead-on accurate) freaky memory.
The Sun and the Moon
(Island; US: 22 May 2007; UK: Available as import)
1. The latest book or movie that made
My favorite book ever is Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, but I never got around to reading Atlas Shrugged—her most famous book - until now. I just started it on this current tour, and I’m only about 100 pages in. I say “only” because the book is about 500,000 pages long. Plus the print is impossibly small; it’s actually a lot like reading the Bible. So the eye strain is making me cry, if that counts.
2. The fictional character most like you?
My favorite fictional character is probably ‘Sailor Ripley’, from the movie Wild at Heart by David Lynch. There’s never been a greater badass; and he’s not too shabby at singing, either. But that character is nothing like me. How could you say what character is most like you? It’s impossible to view yourself from an outside perspective like that.
3. The greatest album, ever?
I could never really pick one. It changes depending on how old I was at the time, what I feel like listening to at the time, etc. But I will say that for a very long time, growing up outside of Washington DC, 13 Songs by Fugazi was my favorite album.
I should probably mention, before I get assaulted by insanely obsessed Fugazi fans, that 13 Songs isn’t “technically” an album. It is actually two EPs put together on CD that were never released on CD before; the self-titled debut, and “Margin Walker”. They’re both brilliant, though of the two I guess I’d have to say I slightly prefer the self-titled. So, technically, maybe that’s my favorite album ever? But, then…does an EP count as an album?
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars, no question. Not even close. But having said that, Star Trek is definitely great in its own way. It’s not really appreciated, but the first Star Trek movie is maybe the deepest movie I’ve ever seen.
5. Your ideal brain food?
To be honest, I drink gallons of Red Bull. That stuff is amazing. It seriously makes me smarter and more alive. But only if you drink an obscene amount.
We (The Bravery) actually drink so much Red Bull that we got a sponsorship from them. That’s not a joke. Anytime, anywhere, we can call Red Bull up and they will send us cases of the stuff. As much as we want, anywhere we want.
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
I once got stiffed by a bus driver: I walked up to the bus stop just as he was pulling away, but then there was a stop light right there, so he stopped, literally three feet from the bus stop. He hadn’t really pulled away at all. And it wasn’t in traffic or anything, there was no one around and the bus was right next to the sidewalk. So I thought—great, I almost missed him, but luckily I didn’t. No big deal, he’s just waiting there, three feet from the bus stop.
But then he wouldn’t let me on. I was knocking on the door, but he just wouldn’t let me on. I could not believe it, and I just stood there knocking and knocking, getting angrier and angrier and the light was really long so the whole thing took forever, but for some inexplicable reason he just refused to let me on. And then the light changed and he drove off.
I lost my mind, I was so angry that I chased that bus. I ran as fast as I could, through the crowded city sidewalk, flat out sprinting for about ten minutes, harder than I’ve ever run in my life. And then I saw the driver pulling into the next bus stop, and I realized—I was going to catch him.
He was sitting there, letting in a whole long line of people, and I was getting closer and closer. And the guy could see me in his rearview mirrors and he just totally panicked. He shut the door, cutting off half the line of people, and hit the gas just as I reached him. Completely bright red, completely sweating I knocked on his door twice (which I did politely) just as he was taking off as fast as a bus could go.
I’m proud of that accomplishment. I have no idea why. Also I have no idea what I was planning to do if I’d actually caught the guy.
7. You want to be remembered for…?
The music, obviously. The day one of our albums comes out is always a really cool day, because you realize you’ve put something into the world that will always exist, long after you’re gone. I like that.
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
Ayn Rand, Albert Einstein and Joe Strummer.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
Chuck Close’s portrait of his wife, Leslie. It’s a picture of her from the neck up, in black and white, blown up to the size of a wall (9’ x 7’). From the other side of the room you think it’s a photograph, but as you get closer you realize it’s actually an unbelievably realistic painting. And then when you get really close you realize it’s not really a painting at all—the entire thing is made out of thumbprints. He dipped his thumb in ink and made a huge image of his wife out of thumbprints. He did it so perfectly that you think it’s a photograph. That, I wish I’d done.
10. Your hidden talents…?
I never forget a face. It’s weird, but anytime I meet someone, even if it’s just for a minute from ten years ago, I never forget their face. But I will forget how we met. And then I’ll see someone on the street ten years later and stop them and force them to help me figure out where we’ve met. Which at first really freaks people out, until they realize I’m right, and I actually do remember meeting them for one minute, on the bus, ten years ago, and then they’re really freaked out.
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
My dad taught me that in any group of people, ten percent of them are completely out of their minds. He learned this in the Marines, somehow. They’re called “Ten-Percenters”. If you have ten people, one of them is going to be completely wrong, completely stupid or crazy, about everything they think or say or do. If you have 100 people, then there’s ten people like that. If you look at bigger groups—like a country, or an age group, or people who drive cars, or people who have black hair, or whatever—that’s a lot of people that are completely out of their mind.
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
When I was a little kid I took a grape from the grocery store and ate it without paying for it. My mom made me go back and tell the cashier lady what I’d done. It was the most humiliating experience of my life. I’ve never stolen since.
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or…?
I’m more of a Salvation Army kinda guy.
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
Winston Churchill. Because he’s the funniest man who ever lived.
15. Time travel: where, when and why?
I had a long talk with a particle physicist about this, just the other day. These guys are the scientists who spend their life studying all that crazy stuff. Apparently it’s all possible—time travel, teleportation, meeting intelligent alien life—all that. It’s all possible, but we’re probably never actually going to be able to pull it off because it’s too hard to achieve.
It’s all about worm-holes—skipping from one point in space-time to another. And worm-holes are theoretically possible. In fact, we know black holes exist, and they might be worm-holes. But we won’t know for sure until we travel through one—which will probably never happen because they’re so far away. Or, we could create our own worm-hole much closer to us. But that would require so much energy that it probably could never happen. It would need an engine the size of, like, the Sun.
So time travel probably won’t go down. But you never know. By the way, remember what I said about the Star Trek movie being the deepest movie, ever? Well it covers all that.
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
Jack and Coke.
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or…?
Jack and Coke. And Red Bull.
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
I’m a city kinda man. The country makes me nervous. Because there’s no one around, and it’s so quiet, I always feel like something really scary is about to go down. Like at night, when you can actually see all the stars because there are no lights, and it’s completely quiet and peaceful—that scares me.
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
The system works. No matter how hard you tried to screw this country up, you only had eight years to do it and now you are gone, never to return. Hurrah for the Constitution.
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
Releasing the second half of our last album. We took the 11 songs on the album and recorded them in two completely different ways; so it’s all the same songs, start to finish, but two completely different albums. It’s called The Sun and the Moon. The Sun side was more experimental for us—more acoustic and organic, more produced, lighter and more upbeat. That came out months ago; now we are releasing the Moon side. It is darker, more synthetic, more raw and unproduced. We’ll be touring the states in support of that for the next few months.