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Pretty Hated Machine

The Bravery are the most hated band in America. This does not mean they make terrible music (their debut received mostly positive reviews), nor does it mean they’re unpopular (the album sold more than 50,000 copies in its first two weeks). Like Stone Temple Pilots, Third Eye Blind, and Matchbox Twenty before them, the Bravery serve as cultural shorthand: If someone wants to take a stand against inauthentic, unoriginal rock’n’roll, they can simply say, “I hate the Bravery.” How this happened is unclear. Perhaps their inexplicable shout-outs to Fugazi (and their meticulously crafted eyeliner and thrift-store chic) make the Bravery seem a little too conscious of what’s supposed to be cool. At May’s Coachella Festival, attendees screamed insults at the band and competing acts supposedly picked fights with them. Anti-Bravery fliers have been posted around Manhattan’s East Village. Even the Killers’ Brandon Flowers accused the group of being disingenuous ripoff artists. We asked the band’s frontman, Sam Endicott, how it feels to become a target.

SPIN: What makes the Bravery so polarizing? First of all, this phenomenon is based in New York, and that’s not representative of the world. A lot of people have asked me, “Are you pissed at New York because of this?” My answer is always, “No, not all,” because those critics represent a minority — albeit a particularly vocal minority. But there does seem to be an indie-hipster community that passionately hates us. Which is funny, because I don’t think you’ll find a major-label band that has gone about their success in a more indie way than we have. We recorded an album on our own and started distributing it on our own. We do everything ourselves.

There seems to be this assumption that your band is somehow fabricated. [Critics] are desperately trying to find an example of that, and the best thing they could get was that I was in a ska band during college. We seemed to appear quickly, which I guess seemed suspicious. People don’t know that we were working on that album for a year.

From a commercial perspective, what is your goal? When you’re making music — when you’re making art — you want to make something you believe in. Something you want to be hearing right now. So you make it yourself. You like it, you believe in it, you’re proud of it, and you want people to listen to it. That’s human nature.

It’s baffling that the Killers would criticize your band. You both play modern rock, and you’re taking influences from the same ’80s bands. Well, you need to look at the history of this, which is that we were supposed to go on tour with them twice, and both times they kicked us off. I’m hesitant to talk shit about the Killers because the whole thing is stupid, and we don’t want to get into a fucking Ja Rule–versus-50 Cent situation. But I don’t think it takes a genius to figure it out.

Are you implying that the Killers are jealous of the Bravery? That’s weird — I mean, they’ve sold nearly two million records. Exactly. They’re huge, and who the fuck are we? We’re like this new little band. I think you should listen to their album and then listen to our album, and then go see them live and then see us live. You can just decide for yourself.