Next time to see or read a news feature you might want to ask yourself "where did this come from?" In all likelihood, a public relations firm was involved. There's hard news- wars, crime, disasters and the like. But because a steady diet of mayhem and the world's ills is too much for most people, news editors look for feature stories. These stories, often pitched by PR firms, are usually topical and immediate. PR firms pull the levers to build interest in or excitement around their clients.
Here's how it works. The vocalist for Group A, a successful multi-platinum outfit is quoted saying Group B, a new band, is merely riding on Group A's coattails. Any hint of controversy is sure to generate coverage. If Group B is smart enough to lob a couple return shots at Group A, all the better. Means more press for both bands. Meanwhile, some poor Group A fan figures that he'll probably like Group B too since he's been told they "sound like Group A." So he downloads several Group B tracks dinging his credit card. Perfect.
That's essentially what the Killers' Brandon Flowers did. He went on a radio show saying The Bravery were little more than copycats. They responded. There was a "feud." Of course, while all this back-and-forth was going on nobody bothered to check that both the Killers and The Bravery were on the same label, Island, and that they shared the same PR firm. If Flowers had said he really admired The Bravery nobody would have paid any attention. Of course he's going to say that with the label and PR connections. But spin a quarrel and everybody gets a free ride. The Bravery's '05 self-titled debut cracked the Top 20 in the U.S. and did even better in the U.K.
The Bravery started in '03 playing their first show at the Stinger Club in Brooklyn. Endicott and Conway were college classmates. A local ad drew Zakarin and he took Hindert with him. A mutual friend brought Burulcich into the circle.
The Bravery's first effort was "The Unconditional" EP which was followed by "The Bravery," featuring the singles "Unconditional" and "An Honest Mistake." This was when the Flowers/Bravery "dispute" was perpetrated. Their follow-up album, "The Sun And The Moon," arrived in the spring on '07. There was a full-page Rolling Stone magazine ad to promo it. It has to be a pain to have to pay for publicity that you once just pull it out of the air.
The two-disc set, "The Sun And The Moon Complete," landed the following year. It had the Brendan O' Brian produced album plus the same 12 songs, in the same order, reworked. The single "Believe" reached #4 on the Modern Rock Chart, the group's best showing to date.
A fall out with the Bravery's UK label (Polydor) halted plans to release the album there. "The big thing was the BBC counted us as the best new band of the year," said Endicott in an NME interview. "We got off a plane in London and there were billboards of us on the highway. Suddenly we weren't this indie band, we were the Spice Girls!" Legal wrangling ensued.
The Bravery returned to the studio, this time with producer John Hill. "It's a party album," said Endicott of '09's "Stir The Blood." "It's uptempo, fun music, although it does have a range of things." The group opened for Green Day on their 21st Century Breakdown North American Tour and played selected tracks from their third album.
In their spare time the Endicott and Hill wrote songs for Shakira (including the hit "She Wolf") and Christina Aguilera.
The Bravery did manage to 'stir the blood'. First, the Hindert directed "Hatef**k" got banned by the group's label following complaints from parent's groups over the clip's graphic and unsettling images. Then came an ill-fated radio appearance on San Diego's 91X, a station that had been selected week's earlier to debut "Stir The Blood's" lead single "Slow Poison."
Usually, a radio in-studio appearance is one of the easiest and most beneficial of promotional activities. Get interviewed, sign some autographs, have a few laughs, play a couple songs and reach (and hopefully excite) several thousand listeners. Not on this November day.
Burulcich was too intoxicated to play in front of the studio audience. A roadie filled in. Not good, but manageable. A while later, Burulcich was discovered urinating on the air conditioner in one of the station's private offices. The police were called and he was escorted from the building.
On a more pleasant note, the song "The Spectator" was played during the CW Network's The Vampire Dairies. That was suppose to be the song's debut but somehow it was leaked a few days earlier.
2005 The Bravery
2007 The Sun And The Moon
2009 Stir The Blood
Brandon Flowers comments aside, The Bravery's debut owes more to Depeche Mode and Devo than it does the Killers. When the Killers go back to the '80s they use the Cars, Police and Talking Heads as touchstones. The Bravery is clearly on the dance side of the equation. Their synth/keyboard-dominated sound has its appeal, especially on the singles ("An Honest Mistake" and "Unconditional") as well as "Fearless" and "Swollen Summer."
"The Sun And The Moon" backs off the dance beat just a bit but their basic approach is still intact. Also, the guitar parts often have a true majestic New Wave/Flock Of Seagulls ring to them.
Releasing the ballad, "Time Won't Let Me Go," as a single pulls the group off the dancefloor and allows for some clever lyrics ("homesick for a place I'll never be"). After a churchy intro (called "Intro") the group rolls through "This Is Not The End," "Every Word Is A Knife In My Ear," "Bad Sun" and "Angelina." Now these songs infringe on the Killers encroachment of the '80s (like they invented lifting from the past). There are two acoustic guitar/strings ballads. "Tragedy Bound" has a Folk leaning that isn't bad while set closer, "The Ocean," is forgettable.
'80's singers had a knack for sounding like they were watching their lives on TV and bothered by what they saw. Endicott captures that feeling on "Stir The Blood." The Bravery's synth leaning dance-Rock takes an ambient turn on "She's So Bendable" and goes dark and driving for "Hatef**k." But "Slow Poison," "The Spectator" and other tracks cling to their core sound.