BY: MATTHEW WILKINSON
A pretty girl lurks behind her apartment door in an empty hallway. She hears the elevator door slowly open. A man comes walking down the hallway to the apartment door next to hers. He stops and fumbles with his keys. She emerges from behind her door and shouts a gentle hello to him and waves. He smiles and politely waves back, yet continues to open the door and walk into his apartment, completely and utterly uninterested.Disappointed, the woman walks back into her apartment. Upset and looking for answers, she notices an infomercial on the television for the True Romance Company advertising that they can make someone fall in love with you forever. She calls the number on the screen, and the next day gets an envelope with two DVDs and a vial of liquid. One DVD is marked "Make him love you," while the other is marked "Make him stop." She sits for a moment contemplating whether or not she should go through with it. She decides that she should. She's tired of being lonely and going unnoticed. She walks to the trash can and throws out the "Make him stop" disc. She puts the "Make him love you" disc in the DVD player, and just as she does that there is a knock at the door. It's the man. Is this the start of a true romance?
That is how the music video for the new She Wants Revenge single "True Romance" starts. It's ventures like this, exploring the darker side of love, that elevated the darkwave rock pair from the dance club circuit to the spotlight of mainstream radio and sold-out venues.
The San Fernando Valley-based duo, which pairs hip-hop emcee Justin Warfield and DJ Adam "12" Bravin, hit rock radio running after the release of the group's 2006 self-titled debut album. Singles like "Tear You Apart" and "These Things" were fueled by dark electronic elements, Warfield's haunting baritone and lyrics charged with love, rejection, lust and betrayal.
Radio ate the singles up, the band headlined tours and opened up for global bands like Depeche Mode, and the self-titled album sold more than 300,000 copies in the United States.
So when it came time for the guys to come back home and write a sophomore album, they knew right where to start.
"We picked up where we left off when we finished recording the first album," Bravin told DIG over the phone from outside his home in Hollywood. "This record is really a reflection of the growth that we obtained having been on the road for a year and a half and all the experiences we took away. It definitely has the same feel, but I would even say it's darker, and a little dancier. Some of the same themes are revisited, and there are new ones. It's She Wants Revenge, just evolved."
Bravin never imagined himself in a band. He always had a strong passion for music, but found a creative outlet as a disc jockey. He would man the turntables at parties and clubs, and always kept an ear open for the best of up-and-coming hip-hop. It was at a DJ gig that he first met Warfield.
"Justin and I both grew up in the same neighborhood," Bravin said. "We had mutual friends, and one of the very first parties I ever DJ'd as a kid, he came to. There really wasn't a lot of hip-hop back in those days that came out of the West Coast, and I put something on that was pretty new that I don't know how many people had heard at that time. He was there and he came up freaking out about it and asked me what it was, and from that point on we started bumping into each other a lot more over the years and just kind of became friends even though we really didn't hang out."
Warfield released two solo albums, "My Field Trip to Planet 9" in 1993 and "The Justin Warfield Supernaut" in 1995. Both albums were well done, but struggled commercially. It wasn't long before Warfield found himself back in the Valley at the same barbecue as Bravin.
A mutual friend realized the two of them weren't working on anything at the moment and insisted that they work together. Warfield and Bravin left that barbecue together to go write, and that was the birth of She Wants Revenge.
The two connected right away on a musical level. Both had a deep love for '80s music and wanted to write music that made them feel the same way they used to feel when they put on The Cure or New Order.
"I don't think there are a lot of bands out there right now that are men speaking to women," Bravin said. "When we grew up and we were feeling depressed or melancholy or had a crush on a girl, we could always put on Depeche Mode or The Smiths. I think that there is a lack of that type of music out there, and that's part of the reason why we started making this music."
With Warfield on guitar and vocals and Bravin on bass, keyboards, the drum machine, synthesizer and just about any other instrument you can think of, the duo started writing music that captured teen angst by channeling those '80s bands and mixing them with old school hip-hop elements. They acknowledged that most of the songs were written about girls, and wanted to have an element of femininity in the band's name. Bravin suggested Girl Revenge. Warfield responded with She Wants Revenge.
And when it came time to choose album art for the band's debut release, the guys chose a girl in a white tank top and panties for the front cover. When you turned the album over, it revealed she was holding a big knife behind her back.
"We did a song with Timbaland for his record and he told us when we went into the studio with him that he was at the record store buying CDs and he saw the chick on the cover and turned it around and saw her ass and bought it," Bravin said. "But that wasn't really our intention. We didn't use her on the cover to sell records at all, we just thought it was kind of an iconic image. We grew up with album covers like New Order and The Smiths and The Cure. Those are all images that were really speculative over the years, and those are album covers that are beautiful pieces of art."
The band's sophomore album, "This Is Forever," will be released on Oct. 9 and the band will be on the road supporting it until mid-November when it takes a break for the holidays. And what does a member in a darkwave rock band do to celebrate the darkest night of the year, Halloween?
"I like Halloween because I like giving candy to all the kids," Bravin said. "There's always a million parties and holidays are always good for me as a DJ to work, but over the years it's kind of cooler to see all the kids dressed up and hooking them up with some good candy. We all know what it's like to get the bum-out package of peanuts. I hook them up with the shit that they're going to freak out over.