If a television special on the World Championship Domino Tournament seems an odd inspiration for a music video, consider the fact that the Bravery watched it at an Amsterdam coffee shop last summer.
"We were like, whoa ... dominoes!" singer Sam Endicott recalls with a chuckle. "We knew right there that this was going to be the idea for our video."
The swift collapse of dominoes did make its way into the new video for the Bravery's first single, "An Honest Mistake," from their self-titled debut album, due March 29. Directed by Mike Palmieri, the clip will complement the band's half-rock, half-new-wave sound that has critics on both sides of the Atlantic singing the group's praises.
Palmieri enlisted world domino champion Robert Speca to set up the video's opening sequence, a series of Speca's classic tricks, including four-leaf clovers and double helixes. Soon, dominoes falling neatly in lines, turns and twists lead to a massive Rube Goldberg-inspired set involving ladders, levers, pulleys, bikes, toilets, you name it, in an intricate chain-reaction sequence. Like a giant game of Mouse Trap, the large-scale smash-up made for a treacherous yet exciting environment for a video shoot.
"We were in this giant warehouse with all of this dangerous stuff happening all around us," Endicott said. "I was just standing around and a flaming tennis ball shot right past my head. There were giant beams falling all around us. It was pretty intense."
The grand mishmash left at the end of the clip isn't out of line with the way the Bravery like to create music. Endicott, who grew up listening to bands like Minor Threat and Fugazi, was inspired by the do-it-yourself aesthetic that characterized the hardcore and post-punk movements. "When you do things on your own, you make a mess," Endicott said, "but there can be beauty in that mess."
Modern technology affords bands like the Bravery a much larger range of sounds than the bands that influenced them. "The idea is to go back to the days of DIY rock and roll, [but] using all of the sounds we have nowadays," he said. "So our sound comes out this kind of half-rock, half-dance thing."
The Bravery's sound is also a reaction to recent trends in dance club music. Endicott said he liked the idea of electroclash — the New York club movement that combined punk-inspired dance music with fashion and visual art — but that he "thought all the bands sucked." His mission with the Bravery is to get people thinking about good rock and roll songs as dance music again, like they did during the '80s new-wave explosion.
"We like to use synthetic, electronic sounds," Endicott said. "Then again, there's nothing better than the visceral kick in the gut you get from a live organic rock band. So we're trying to do both."