|From left, keyboardist John Conway, drummer Anthony Burulcich, lead guitarist Michael Zakarin, and bassist Mike Hindert. (Photo credit: Michael Schmelling)|
In fact, Endicott will claim almost complete ignorance of the eighties bands the Bravery sounds like: “I know nothing about the Smiths,” he unconvincingly told the BBC in January. There’s no reason a rock musician should be ashamed to admit he’s a fan of the Smiths or New Order or Joy Division, so why deny the obvious influence? It’s possible that Endicott prefers to flaunt his fondness for do-it-yourself icons like the Clash—artists revered for being rock stars’ rock stars, not just avant-garde fetishes—to protect himself should the current appetite for mopey Brits prove to be a passing fad. Or perhaps he wants listeners to believe that the Bravery is blazing an entirely new retro trail, and not just encroaching on territory that competing groups like the Killers were quicker to claim. (“I don’t want them brought up in this article,” Stevenson says of the Killers, even though he’s their A&R rep as well.) It’s all part of the strategy: to look like leaders in an industry of followers.
At the Bravery’s Northsix show, a capacity crowd is already shrieking as the band launches into the opening measures of Soft Cell–style synth pop. In the nine-song, 30-minute set, every page from Morrissey’s crooning, mike-stand-caressing playbook will be revisited, until Endicott’s faux-hawk has collapsed in sweat, and Hindert has doused the first five rows with a shotgun of beer. If the popularity of a band can be measured in self-conscious clubgoers compelled to dance to its music, stylish women singing along to songs that haven’t yet been released, and ostensibly heterosexual dudes snapping stage shots with cell-phone cameras, then it can be argued that the Bravery is already the biggest rock act in the world.
But mostly, the band is in limbo. The guys take meetings with Jay-Z (“He was just wearing a sweater and jeans,” says Burulcich. “We had a bunch of Coronas.”); their video makes Rolling Stone’s “Hot List”; they book sold-out U.K. tours. But, without an album out, they’re not exactly famous. “I ran into this high-school friend of mine at a Baltimore rest stop,” Hindert says, “and I had to make a decision: Do I tell him just how well things are going, we’re signed to a major label, blah-blah-blah, or do I just tell him things are cool?” Surprisingly, he opted for modesty. “I figured it would be better to wait until he finds us on MTV.”
Counting down to the album’s release date, Endicott says he’s filled with as much doubt as excitement. He’s given a lot of thought to the case study of the Strokes, who went from rock and roll’s Leonardo DiCaprios to the genre’s Ben Afflecks in about eighteen months. “That’s why the hipster music community sucks,” says Endicott. “A 14-year-old girl who’s really into Nelly knows more about music than one of these music snobs, who one minute say they love it and the next minute, when everybody’s heard of the band, say they hate it.”
The hipster music community is already returning the love, speculating that the Bravery’s half-life might be even shorter than the Strokes’. In a review of “An Honest Mistake,” the indie Website Pitchforkmedia.com wondered if the band “will be done in the US by the time they get their presumably photogenic faces on Fuse and MTV2, if they’re not done already.” (Still, they gave the single three and a half stars.)
And what happens when rock and roll’s goth-glam revival proves to be as short-lived as Johnny Marr’s solo career? “It’s going to be interesting to see what sort of staying power these alt-British-eighties bands have,” says Comaskey, who now books talent for Crash Mansion. He thinks the Bravery is the band most likely to anticipate trends and adapt: “I don’t think they’ll be doing the Robert Smith eyeliner and jet-black dyed-hair thing for too long.”
The Strokes went from rock and roll’s Leonardo Dicaprios to the genre’s Ben Afflecks in eighteen months.
Galli hopes to avoid premature obscurity by thinking two steps ahead. He’s already encouraging the band to work on its follow-up LP. “The second record,” he says. “That’s the record that makes a career.”
But nothing is guaranteed. The Bravery’s video for “An Honest Mistake” finds the band performing in an elaborate Rube Goldberg device. Toppling dominoes set off mousetraps, falling anvils crush levers, and bowling balls knock over milk bottles, until finally a flaming arrow is fired at a bull’s-eye—and completely misses its target. The question is obvious: What if we do everything right, and we still don’t succeed?
Two weeks later, Endicott is one of many white men in London’s Hammersmith Palais, sound-checking for a New Musical Express–sponsored show in which the Bravery will be sharing a stage with its unacknowledged artistic and sartorial muses, New Order. The performance is just one of sixteen the band has planned on its second sold-out tour of the U.K.
Endicott is noticing differences in how they’re being treated this time around: “When a 55-year-old lady recognizes you at the airport, that’s sort of a testament.” But lest his rock stardom prove fleeting and he end up looking like a jerk, he quickly adds a self-deprecating remark. “We’ve stepped up from the roach motels to the Holiday Inns,” he jokes. “It’s not exactly glamorous, but you get a lot of free shower caps.”
The U.K. tour is immediately followed by a 28-date American run, culminating in the Coachella festival in May. “We’re booking a show in Japan for the end of July,” Endicott says by cell phone. “I never planned anything that far in advance. I’m more organized than I’ve ever been in my life.”
The schedule is rigorous, but Endicott is glad for it. “When you’re in a band that’s going nowhere,” he says, “on a day-to-day level that’s less stressful, because you can sleep all day, but the stress there is much worse, because it’s a soul-sucking, staring-into-the-void stress.” He’ll take the endless anticipation and frustration and calculation of being in a band that’s got a shot any day.