The Bravery is a New York-based band taking garage music to the next level. I know, I know, you’re thinking, “I’ve had enough of boys with cool hair, wailing away about finding the right pair of girl jeans!” But the Bravery isn’t the same lame band that’s tried to add you a thousand times on MySpace – they’ve got a sound and style that’s uniquely theirs. I heard all about it during a phone interview with guitarist Michael Zakarin.
Who are the members of the group?
I’m Michael, and I play guitar, and there’s Sam who also plays guitar and sings, the other Mike who plays the bass, John who plays the keyboard, and Anthony is the drummer.
What city do you claim as your hometown?
We’re all based out of New York-we’re not all originally from New York, but that’s where we met.
How did you guys come together? How long ago was that?
There’s kind of pairs of friends in the group – I met Mike in college, we had a philosophy class together. Sam and John went to college together, too. A friend told me about the two of them starting to write songs and looking for other musicians. Then the four of us met Anthony through a friend. We got together about two and a half, three years ago. It tends to work a lot better playing music with people you know well – we’ve been on tour for like ten months, and it helps a lot that we’re already friends.
Where did the group or artist name come from?
The Bravery is kinda consistent with the themes of our songs, and where we’re at in our lives. We all live in New York, which is a very fast-moving, Type A, high-anxiety place. It’s not acceptable to sit on your ass and do nothing, so everyone jumps after school into these numbing jobs because they want some kind of comfort, and because it’s accepted. Also, anxiety in New York was so heightened after September 11th – people rushing into jobs and relationships that they wouldn’t have gotten into before, all because they were scared. We don’t want to give into any of those things, and that’s where our name comes from.
What bands are your influences?
The Buzzcocks, The Kinks, Velvet Underground – and of course we love the Beatles and the Stones. Really any bands with a raw sound. Sam, our main singer and songwriter, is from DC and was influenced by the DC post-punk scene, so we’re also influenced by bands like Jawbox – maybe not necessarily the sound, but definitely the DIY approach to making music.
How would you describe your sound?
It’s kind of like a danceable approach to the future of the Garage music. We make music that can appeal to anybody- we don’t want to make music targeted to one specific audience, which I think is the mentality of a lot of New York bands. And when you see us play, we want you to dance and have a good time, not just stand there.
Can you tell me a little bit about your latest album? Who produced it, where it was done, the message behind it, stuff like that?
The whole thing was done in Sam’s and John’s apartments on an IMac. Sam was living over a bar, so we could make noise during bar hours, and John lived in Chinatown, so we could be pretty noisy there, too. Then we recorded the drums at a friend’s studio in Bushwick, Sam and John produced it. We spent seven grand on the whole thing. The album was basically done before we even had any kind of label interest. We made it for ourselves rather than the public. The message of the album has to do with that, and what I mentioned earlier about dealing with anxiety… combating it instead of giving into it.
Where have you toured so far? What’s been your favorite venue to play at, and why?
We’ve spent the whole summer going all over the world. We did a Southeast Asia tour, an Australian tour, and we played all around Scandinavia and Germany. Belgium was cool, Tokyo was cool – as much as it was really nice to go all over the world and play for fans, but since the US is where we’re from, touring here is the most meaningful. It’s hard to say one show that’s the most meaningful, I couldn’t pick just one.
What are some of the other bands you’ve played with?
Currently we’re on tour with the International Noise Conspiracy from Sweden – they’re cool guys. After we’ve finished our own tour, we’re going to go on tour with Depeche Mode. We have a lot of respect for Depeche Mode, just their longevity, and the fact that they’ve been able to make music that no one else has been able to come close to.
How do you feel about playing Boston?
Its probably the only city we’ve played more than New York. For a while, we were in Boston every other weekend, playing TT the Bear’s or Middle East upstairs. The Boston crowd is consistently good – we’ve never gone there and had a lukewarm crowd. Paul Driscoll from FNX was one of the first DJs to discover us and give us airplay, so we’re forever indebted to him. Our drummer went to Berklee, so he has a lot of friends there, so as a result we have a lot of friends there. Our manager is from Boston as well. It’s a great place to play!
Where is your current tour taking you – where will you be before Boston, and where are you going afterwards?
We’re playing all over the US. Right now we’re in Chicago, and we’re hitting all the major cities.
What do you want our Boston Live readers to know about you?
We appreciate how good Boston’s been to us – it’s the reason we keep coming back here! We appreciate the support of the radio, and the support of the fans, and we’re excited to come back. And for anybody who comes to a lot of our shows, we’re gonna be playing some new stuff this time around, so it’s definitely worth it to come check us out!