Interview by Tracey Moyle.
For the first time since Soundwave 2013, thanks to Silverback Touring Canadian Rockers Danko Jones will soon be hitting our shores to remind us of what rock n roll is and always will be about. But more importantly to bring all that infectious energy to the crowds and rock the fans in true Danko Jones style.
Tracey Moyle had a chat to Danko himself about not only the upcoming tour and the new Album ‘A Rock Supreme’ but also his own love of Rock n Roll, his 23 years in the industry and the hard grind of new rock bands emerging today.
Congratulations on your new album ‘A Rock Supreme.’ After 9 full-length albums it’s great that you guys can still produce brilliant high energy rock. There are some great songs on there and I guess the opener, I’m in a Band, says it all. “All I wanna do is jam with my band and hit the road” is a great line and probably sums up the absolute passion you guys have for the music?
“Thanks a lot, thanks very much. Yeah you know I didn’t realise it until the song was finished and we were listening back that, that’s really kind of like my personal anthem. So I actually really like that song for that reason but also because, I love the guitar solo in it and I just love the song. It’s a great song.”
I am guessing we will hear some new songs on the upcoming tour but how, with so many fan favourites do you choose which ones to bring out at the gig?
“We have nine studio albums and three compilation albums so that’s 12 albums of original material to choose from so we can’t play for five hours so it gets kinda tight to choose what songs to play. Our album came out on Friday and on Friday/Saturday we played these kinda radio rock radio listener parties in Germany. We played I’m In A Band for the first time and four other songs of the album so our new albums getting a lot into the set. “
Do you find a different energy with fans when playing in different countries around the world?
“Yeah, it’s a filtered crowd, you know. People at the show are into rock so whether its in Germany or whether its in Canada, Australia or Spain, it’s a group of people who are there because they want to hear rock music and specifically the rock music you’ve made. It’s definitely a converted crowd and reaction is, I mean, city to city, country to country it varies, sure, but pretty much everyone’s got similar reactions.”
Your sound is uniquely yours with a solid base of, almost anthem like heavy rock, laced with the energy of punk, but also sometimes a touch of that blues rock sound. Overall you guys always produce songs that I would describe as energetic and fun. Do you find the songs you’re bringing forward for each album are influenced by what you’ve been listening to yourself or do you instinctively return to your original roots in music?
“Yeah…… our rock music is an old kinda music, it’s definitely not a new kind of music. It’s been almost shelved really, it’s not the most popular form of music anymore, you know. The stuff that we use as inspiration or stuff we listen to and call from are definitely older albums. I mean there are a lot of new bands out there that are doing some great music but they too take from older bands. So I think that’s it’s easy to say that we take from older bands, at least a cue from older bands.”
There seems to be so many cross genre’s in sounds its good to hear bands just play that raw rock sound. I spoke to Leigh Kakaty from Pop Evil about the same thing recently. I’ve been a rock fan since I could speak so it’s great to hear that old rock sound. I do hear in your music though, I assume your influences; rock, a bit of a punk sound and a blues undertone so I guess as a group you all have different influences?
“Yeah, I mean we originally came from a garage punk scene and just found the scene a little kind of stifling and a little confining so we started to expand our music and embrace the hard rock bands that we all loved. So the garage punk or the garage rock sound is still there because that’s where we started from. Like hard rock bands are like, what I listen to and what I love but there’s punk in there as well because I love punk rock. There are influences there but its filtered through a hard rock funnel you know. “
You’re playing four dates in four days, that’s a whirlwind tour! Do you get any time off in between?
“I don’t think we will, it’s exactly how you say it, four shows, four days and that’s it. I don’t know how we’re going to do it, but we’re going to do it. I mean whatever happens, we’re going to do our show and it will be fun.”
Do you think that Australia being so far away from Canada and America in flight hours is possibly a reason we don’t get a great many overseas acts touring, do you think the distance turns people off?
“No it doesn’t turn anyone off, I think everyone wants to play Australia. I think its just money. It costs a lot to get down there and if there isn’t anybody who knows the band it’s hard for the band to start playing there and building up an audience. You already have to have a certain name or a buzz. That’s why Soundwave was great, it would bring bands that maybe only some people had heard of and they can begin to build an audience and come back on their own but it’s hard for a band to do that in Australia if they don’t already have some sort of lead up.”
You have your hand in quite a few things with radio shows, writing and the band. Do you prefer anything over the other or do you just like the variety of it all?
“I don’t do radio shows any more, but I do have a pod cast since 2011 and I took on a second podcast two years ago. Then I’ve been writing for a concert magazine in Sweden since 2006 and writing for Rocks On magazine in Spain since 2012. I’ve been doing that for quite a bit of time and I collected all of my rock writings into a book that Feral House put out last year, it’s called I’ve Got Something To Say and it’s a collection of what I thought was the best of the rock articles I’d written to that point and I got a lot of my friends and other people to illustrate some of it and it was a big collaboration and Duff McKagen wrote a foreword to the book so it was pretty cool.”
I feel it’s a big part of GC Live’s job to not only talk to established bands but to talk about the local music scene. Knowing a lot of young and not so young local bands who, like you guys, just want to make their life about playing music, I know it’s a struggle in the beginning or even years on. Have you got any advice you can share with these up coming acts about touring or recording or just keeping the momentum going?
“Actually I don’t know if my advice would work anymore. I mean the industry has changed so much from when we started 23 years ago, that maybe my advice is out of vogue or it’s just useless now. I wouldn’t know where to begin if I was to start a fresh band with nothing on my plate except just the music. I wouldn’t know where to go either. It’s hard. The way we did it is learn from what we saw you know, like get in a band and book a couple shows and play and that didn’t work out very well either. We soon found out you had to have a record and have a label and now that there’s no labels, well there’s labels but they’ve lost a little clout, a little bit of control and power it’s hard to figure out how to do things. In terms of media, magazines have gone digital and its just a different music scene out there. It’s weird. I don’t know how a rock band would do it. And the garage punk scene we were a part of in the mid to late 90’s is no longer there either. We were a part of a garage rock scene that was really strong and vibrant that eventually brought the White Stripes and The Hives but it caved in on itself. I don’t think there’s an infrastructure there anymore to keep bands afloat and network with other bands like there use to be all throughout the 90’s.”
Digital music has led to a change in the music industry. I remember reading the article many years ago in Rolling Stone magazine where Gene Simmons was talking about the emergence of the digital music platform and the dominance of Rap and RnB through that platform and he infamously said “Rock n Roll is dead”.
“Well I remember that quote I actually wrote an article about it and it’s funny hearing Gene Simmons saying it from his ivory tower. This guy does nothing about the Rock n Roll scene today. He’s not out there in the trenches, he can’t name me ten new rock bands that are vital and happening but I can, because I’m down there in the trenches. He’s in his ivory tower looking down. He has no connection with the rock music today. I can name you 20 bands that are new, out there, that sound amazing. All he wants is a sound bite that will name and gain his band traffic online. But what he did by uttering that and having it take off virally, he did a detriment to the genre of rock music.
Where a lot of people will say he’s wrong, like me, it doesn’t matter when maybe a third of the people who have heard or read that sound bite will think that he’s right and not even consider rock music anymore and think of it as a dead genre or look at it like jazz. So I think Gene Simmons is an enemy of rock music by saying that. I can’t listen to or believe a guy that lives in an ivory tower who has no connection to where rock is – which is down in the trenches. Rock n Roll isn’t hanging out with Lady Gaga and Jay Z and Drake, rock n roll is down where it’s supposed to be, in the gutter. People who still want to really play it…. those are the true rockers, the true rock bands. It’s just a matter of getting people to recognise that. Having Gene Simmons say what he said, man, it just took the genre two steps back.”
Danko Jones, hits one of our coolest rock music venues the last weekend in May. With a back catalogue of great rock anthems and new songs with Dance Dance Dance and I’m in a Band it will be one of the shows of the year.
If you want to see a band that remembers what it’s like to have fun and get the rock n roll crowd partying then these are they guys to check out if you haven’t already. Why sit at home bingeing the same old Netflix shows when you can be out filling your soul with rock n roll.
DANKO JONES Tour Dates:
Thursday 30th May MELBOURNE, Stay Gold
Friday 31st May BRISBANE, Crowbar
Saturday 1st June SYDNEY, Crowbar
Sunday 2nd June ADELAIDE, Enigma Bar
Get your tickets HERE.