Sam Endicott , 2007

 

Written by: Jason Perlman

 

Hey Sam, how are you doing?
I am great, man.

 

So you are on this tour with Incubus.
That's right, we have Incubus now and Smashing Pumpkins after that.

I am not sure if you can get much better tours than those two.
Yea, it is cool to be able to play with them. It's pretty far out.

 

I think it was about a year-and-a-half ago that I was first introduced to The Bravery live in Columbus and throughout the crowd comments to the similarity of Morrissey were made more than once.
Yea, I get that fairly often.

 

Is there really that much influence? Because I heard you are actually not too familiar with his music.
It's funny, because I get that comparison to Morrissey a lot and to Robert Smith. And everyone thinks I am being an asshole when I say this, but I am really not that familiar with Morrissey at all. I have never listened to The Smiths. But I know who Morrissey is, obviously, and I can see how people may say I look like him a little bit, but I wasn't aware of that until people started pointing it out. So that is interesting. But my whole life people have been saying I sound like Robert Smith, and I am a Cure fan. That is a good band. But I never would have anticipated that people would have made a comparison to those two artists, but it's cool. You never know what people are going to compare you to, and I have been compared to the most random shit in the world. My favorite story is when we went to Korea and an interviewer during the interview said, "You must get so sick of people comparing you to Iggy and the Stooges." So you never know what you are going to get, but I do get the Morrissey and Robert Smith comparison a fair amount.

 

I think part of the comparison is there is not much fluff to the music or lyrics of The Bravery. Do you ever think there is a line of being too personal or dark in the songwriting?
It is always hard to put yourself out there because it can be difficult to do that because it can get to be a bit embarrassing if you get too personal. But I to work on that and just try to be as honest as I can. And a lot of my favorite songwriters are very personal so I try to work on that and just put it out there.

 

When you do that, everyone who listens to your music thinks they know who Sam is and what Sam is about so I am sure fans come up to you and talk as if you have been friends for 20 years.
I think it is cool when people feel that way. That is really the best part of what we do is when people take their music personally and it actually means something to them and it impacts their lives. There is no greater feeling as an artist then when you accomplish that, and when you talk to that person and have that impact on them. But the bad side is when you have some drunken asshole that thinks we are best friends. And they just go on and on about some bullshit like we are homeboys and they want to confide in me all this crap. I am like stop spraying spit in my face and just go take a shower.

Oh, well then let me apologize for our chance encounter at that show 18 months ago.
{Laughing} So there is just a good side and bad side. It just depends on whom you are talking to.

 

So there is now a live EP out there for all to hear!
Yea, but keep in mind that is just something that iTunes does. We basically had nothing to do with that. iTunes has a series of those that hey put out.

 

So you were comfortable then with a live set being recorded and put out on the market?
Yea, I mean we did the show and then listened to it to make sure it sounded all right and none of the guitars were out of tune or anything. I mean, none of the amps exploded, so it worked. So we got to sign off on it, but they chose the songs.

How does the writing process work for The Bravery? Is that something you take a lot of control over?
Yea, typically I will write the lyrics and get the basics of the song figured out on the acoustic guitar or maybe there will be a keyboard riff that I come up with. And then we will get together as a band and put together the atmosphere of it with what the guitars, keys and other instruments will do. And then I will sit down and figure out what the groove to the song should be and what the basic rhythm is going to be. But the unusual part about how we record is we record it all and then put in into a computer so we can then totally fuck it up. We will edit it, tweak out sounds and fuck with everything; just like DJs do with electronic music. That is kind of the background that we come from. At least John Conway and myself come from. So it is like we remix the song and when we are done, that is what you hear on the album.

Are you ever surprised at how an idea you had from the beginning ends up sounding on the final record or do you really have a vision and try not to stray too far from that?
I think it is really important to have a strong idea in your head and you want the recording to sound as close to it does in your head. And a lot of times that is a lot trickier than you would think. It can take a long time to do that. It's trial and error. You have to try a lot of different things. But then it gets even more fucked up because a lot of the time you can get side tracked and start going off into places when other people have ideas that they put into it. And that usually makes the song worse. That is why usually when you make a song by committee it comes out sounding like shit. There is an expression that a camel is a horse made by committee. And I want our songs to be horses, not camels. So I usually have a very strict vision of how I want the songs to come out. But sometimes it can get sidetracked into a different thing that is even better. In fact that almost always happens a little bit. And it comes out sounding different that I heard it in my head, but better. So it's hard because you have to be strict to your vision of the song but also keep an open mind. It's very schizophrenic. You have to go in two directions at once.

 

You mentioned putting the songs into a computer and as you said, have the chance to really fuck it up. Where is that line of keeping the song organic but yet adding enough elements to keep it fresh?
Well, we record a lot of it in a very haphazard way and a kind of amateurish way, actually. A lot of the recordings on the album were actually recorded in the back of a bus or in the basement. It was just recorded on whatever mike was lying around. Like on the song where we whistle, I just woke up one morning and had that melody in my head and whistled it and recorded it but had originally envisioned the keyboard playing it. But later we just thought those whistles sounded pretty sweet, so we just kept it. So you are actually hearing me in bed whistling that thing when I woke up. So that element of spontaneity makes it sound more real and more organic than if we recreated everything in a very sanitized studio environment.

 

You spoke about writing a lot of songs on the acoustic guitar. I remember Neil Sanderson from Three Days Grace saying the write acoustically because if a song sounds good acoustic, then what you add around it doesn't have to detract from the core of the song. Do you feel the same way?
I think that is the idea. If you have a song that is good at its core, then you have substance there to go with and then you can just add style to it. But if you don't have the substance and are just getting by on the style, then the song is only going to be so good. Where the best songs definitely have style, but they have an underlying of substance as well that really make the song work and be timeless. So when you strip it down and play it acoustic, all you are getting is that substance with little to no style at all. And if it works that way then you should have something good.

 

You have played on television, played large festivals and headlined smaller venues. As a performer, is there a preference you prefer? You have the perfectly sounding television production versus the atmosphere of a club almost going on.
I love playing clubs that are not that big and you can really get in there with the crowd. It becomes and intimate thing and you just feed off each other. I mean, the crowd is right there and it is like playing a show in your friend's basement. It's like a big party in the basement and has a very natural and energetic vibe to it. And as the band gets more recognized and you play bigger clubs, the trick then becomes how do you try and keep that. And whenever I see my favorite bands playing a large venue, they are still able to make it feel as if you they are playing in some guy's basement with them. The trick is to keep it intimate no matter how big the venue gets.

 

What I remember from your live show is you really seemed to be in each song. It didn't seem so much as a performance as you really getting into the music behind you and the lyrics you are singing. Is that a fair assessment?
I think there are times when I am on stage that in my head, I will put myself back into the mood of what I was feeling when I wrote the song, so singing it back is just like I am revisiting that time.

 

You are also able to, as you said, give and take with the crowd at the same time. You so not seem so closed off as some performers do when they get into their own lyrics. Was being a front man something you really worked on or is what happens on stage just natural?
It took some getting used to, because I was never a singer in a band before this band. I was always into music, but I was always the guy in the background. So it was very weird at first to become a singer. And it took a lot of getting used to and I didn't enjoy playing live that much at first. But over a couple of years, I have grown to love it and have become a lot more comfortable with it. So I would say what I do is natural, but took some getting used to.

 

That is a good thing, because this band seems to be on the road a lot, not just in the States, but also all over the world. You mentioned some of this record was recorded on the bus, so it begs the question as to whether you are ever able to turn off music at any point and just get away from it?
People ask us if we ever get a break, and when the band gets a break is when I am writing songs. So there really isn't a break, ever. But that is fine because this is what I love to do. And if we ever had a break, I would just be writing songs anyway, because that is what I do when I have nothing else to do. So it is not like have a job. I mean, it is when you have to wake up and get on a flight or have to do some bullshit you don't want to do, then it feels like work. But it is hard to tell where work ends and life begins because if I had nothing else to do right now this is what I would be doing anyway. So it is hard to tell the difference.

 

You covered the song "Rocket" for the Smashing Pumpkins tribute record. Was it fun just to go and record someone else's song that you didn't really have to worry about nearly as much as a song of your own?
It is cool because it was like an experiment; you just show up and do it. Instead of all the time leading up to it writing all the lyrics, getting the melody together and making the song work. So you don't have any of that so you can just show up in the studio and hope for the best. But it was very weird because Smashing Pumpkins is a very different band from us or any other band, really; so making their kind of song work for us was a bit strange. In the end I think it came together, but it was a very hard and weird thing to try and figure out how to do that. Just his voice is very unique and nothing like my voice and the song worked because of his voice, so how do you take that element away and still have a Smashing Pumpkins song? The answer is I don't really know but we fucked around with is a lot and I think it came out pretty good.

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