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The Bravery - The Brightside Of The Moon

Author: Anita Connors
Sunday, 25 May 2008
Despite their impressive live shows and awesome back catalogue, New York indie band The Bravery are known more for their offstage antics and that rift with The Killers. Just don’t ask them about it. On the eve of their second Australian tour, 3D’s Anita Connors talks to keyboardist John Conway about the band’s new tricks, New York and the re-release of their second album, The Sun and the Moon.

Two years on from releasing their self-titled debut record, The Bravery released The Sun And The Moon only to remix and rework the album in its entirety.

“It was an idea we were wanting to do in the beginning before we released the first one,” Conway says. “In the way we write songs, you know, recording is a big part of that and we go through so many versions of one song. So far we’re the only ones who know that and we wanted to show two sides of one song, of how you can have something and execute it in very different ways.”

But which versions do they play live-

“Well that’s the fun part, we get to choose,” he says. “It’s kind of like doubling your material. Usually I like to play whatever is newer and then once we’ve been doing that for a while, you know change is always good. But I would tend to go towards the Moon side, because it’s a little rhythmic, some of it comes off better live.”

The two-disc version is now the definitive version. Its electrifying execution proves, yet again, that they’re not copycat Killers.

“Well the way it’s out now is kind of our original idea,” Conway states. “The Sun and The Moon is based on the two sides of the band… I think what bands do on their second record is they’re kind of torn between 15 something songs that are kind of familiar that people will know and recognise as them, over songs that are experimental and pushing the boundaries. I think what we ended doing was both of those things. And the Sun part of our new album is kind of more experimental but it’s probably how most bands maybe make a record. We went to a recording studio and worked with a producer for the very first time. It’s something we had never done before. We got to use a lot of acoustic and more organic instruments, and things like string choirs and organs and different pianos.

“On the Moon side, we sort of went back to how we recorded our first record and done other things, where it was just us and a couple of synthesisers and a laptop. We just self-produced that side and that’s kind of darker, so it’s more rhythmic, more electronic and I think a little grittier.”

Listening to The Sun And The Moon, the colossal chasm between the record and its predecessor is almost instant. Conway believes that this difference in sound comes down to the simple fact they’ve grown as a band.

“We’re better musicians individually and definitely as a band,” he says, “and I think that’s reflected on our second record so far and I we’ve even gone past that now. Just kind of gelling together, being able to do things that are a bit more organic. Everybody sings now, there’s a lot more vocals and stuff. So I guess we’re just trying to expand our bag of tricks.”

The last time The Bravery were in Australia was roughly two years ago, promoting their first album.

“We actually had a lot of fun,” Conway remembers. “We’re excited to come back down. Most of us hadn’t been to Australia before and we just kind of fell in love with the people. Everybody is so outgoing and energetic, the crowds were all really good. And we definitely had some fun, hard drinking nights. But hopefully we’ll have a little more time to hang out and go to the beach, try to surf and stuff.”

As a five-piece, the effort from each band member onstage is massive. But in terms of the songwriting, it’s largely left to one man. “Most of the time it comes from Sam [Endicott], the singer… Sam writes all the lyrics and stuff,” Conway says. Even so, he says the band loves touring partly because of the musical freedom. “So when we’re down there, I think we’ll probably play one of Michael [Zakarin, guitarist]’s songs that he sings and stuff as well. So that’ll be different thing from our last tour of Australia.”

Due to the success of their debut, The Bravery have spent a great deal of time globetrotting over the past few years.

“When we cut our first record, we wanted to go everywhere and we ended up touring the world a lot,” Conway says. “We went to 32 different countries and because of that we weren’t in the States very much. And the States is so huge; I think it takes a long time for things to really break there, which is very different from the UK where you have one national radio station. Things get spread there, you know, really quickly. And that’s what definitely happened over there. And now this record, we’re devoting a lot more time in the States by touring here.”

But this hectic tour schedule has meant that the band has spent little time in their hometown.

“We’re on the road so much that we’re almost out of touch with the music in New York,” Conway laughs. “But when we were living there and playing there everyday, I think New York has always been and always will be just kind of a Mecca centre for artists of all types, you know just creative people. And so many people come from all over the world – I think that it’s kind of like a pressure cooker for creativity. You just get influenced by so many outside sources all being in one small area. For a band, there are so many venues to go play and to see other bands. It’s probably my favourite music scene.”

WHO: The Bravery
WHAT: The Sun and the Moon Complete through Island/Universal / Play the Metro Theatre / We Love Sounds, Hordern Pavilion & Entertainment Quarter
WHEN: Out now / Wednesday 4 June / Sunday 8