We learn about moshing, touring with Papa Roach, and more revelations with the Don Broco vocalist.
At this stage of his life, Rob Damiani feels he's earned the right to milk his birthday celebrations. So, when Kill Your Stereo sat down with the Don Broco vocalist, he was ten days into his 36th year, and still revelling in party vibes.
Don Broco have been out on the road in support of 2021’s Amazing Things, their fourth studio album, spending most of March and April touring the UK with Papa Roach and Dance Gavin Dance.
A brief respite before the alt-rock band hit Australia this week with our own alt. and Wayside, Damiani’s taking a moment (to attempt) to recall time spent on the road – particularly the backstage birthday shenanigans – with artists he calls his role models. “It’s been amazing,” Damiani gushes. “Not getting to tour the album the way we wanted to when it first came out, but this year’s been amazing being back on the road.
“For us, there are no two ways [about it] – touring with Papa Roach has not just been a highlight in our year, but our career in general. Bringing those guys out for the UK tour, was honestly a dream come true.”
A grin widens between the curtain of curls framing Damiani’s glowing face – even at this point in his career, he’s still fan-boy gushing over his peers. “They’re one of our formative bands,” he explains, credits still being dished out to Papa Roach. “Getting into them back as kids and just influencing so much of our sound in the way that they have, for them to come to the UK and kill it, and be legends backstage, it’s one of those moments where you meet your heroes and they’re as cool as you hoped, just the nicest guys.
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“[For] as long as they’ve been doing this, to still have so much passion and love for what they do is really inspiring.”
There are now, of course, bands who look to Don Broco the same way they’ve looked to bands like Papa Roach; it’s an idea that adds the faintest blush to Damiani’s already seemingly cemented smile. “The energy they [Papa Roach] gave on stage, that was definitely something we were a bit nervous about, going on after them,” Damiani continues. “We’re already at the stage where we’re like ‘Ooh my back’s killing me!’
“It’s very easy to be like, ‘We’ll chill out a bit tonight’, so it was a very cool thing to see and to imagine that, further down the line, if we’re still writing and playing music with as much passion [as Papa Roach], we’ll be a very happy bunch of guys.”
Last year marked the tenth anniversary of Don Broco’s debut album, Priorities. Despite the milestone and Damiani’s hopes for the band’s continued growth into their autumn years, he can’t quite believe how far they’ve come since their humble beginnings as teens at school. “Ten years is a good chunk of time,” he muses, “and it doesn’t feel that long ago… but at the same time, we feel like a new band. We’ve really only been playing in the UK for so long, so for a lot of people, we are a brand-new band. We still feel like we’ve got so much to prove.”
Taking Amazing Things out on the road now, two years after its release and not, as Damiani mentioned, in quite the same capacity Don Broco had originally imagined, some songs are being considered differently to how they were handled in the songwriting and recording processes. Considering, Damiani says, “Some songs, they’re really delivering on this feeling of ‘This is it. This is delivering what we hoped it would and it’s giving us exactly what we thought.’ And there are some songs that in the show, are taking on more of a life. It’s probably the bigger, more emotional songs that do that. They’re the ones that stick with people longer.
“Within our Don Broco sound, we’ve got the fun songs, the hype songs, the more emotional [songs] that talk about more serious issues, then you’ve got the songs in between that bring it all together.
“Songs like One True Prince, which has the lyric ‘We’re about to do amazing things’ in it, that’s the one that, from a crowd perspective, we’ve never really had before, where everyone is singing along, singing their hearts out to something that really connects.”
For Damiani and Don Broco, that track was about striving to see the beauty and good in “a really shit time”. “Over what everyone’s been through the last few years, that song is definitely something that did resonate with people – we were hoping it would, but [it did] even more so, we thought.
“But then you’ve got songs like Bruce Willis that are fun, hype tunes! They’re doing exactly what we hoped they would, where you see a mosh pit going crazy, a physical release. Endorphins, people going nuts in the pit, that’s very gratifying, too!”
It’s funny to hear Damiani talk about mosh puts with such a clear fondness, because, to anyone who didn’t know he was the frontman for Don Broco, he certainly doesn’t present as the kind of bloke who’d want to be getting crazy circles happening.
“Mosh pits were my favourite thing to do at a show as a punter for so long,” Damiani reminisces. “There are different levels of mosh pit you can do – I’m a push mosher. I delved into hardcore pits, and they were too violent for me, I got punched in the face too many times as a kid.
“There’s something about a mosh pit which is such a physically unifying force, in the same way, when you go to a concert, and you’re suddenly united with thousands of other people, all connected within the music. You’re there with a few of your mates, you’ve got your arms around each other and you’re singing along and it’s like this bonding moment between you and your friends – there’s nothing quite like going to a gig and having that magnified by thousands of people.
“But then the mosh pit, it’s the physical side, and it’s the same sort of feeling you get playing rugby. Pushing up against each other, getting that physical connection, but it’s also super fun! As long as there are no dicks in the mosh pit pushing people over, the bond you have with people, I used to love the collective.”
Damiani is giggling like a little boy at this point. “You’re pushing, you’re having fun, you might pick an enemy out of the crowd and push them a little bit, and then someone falls and everyone’s picking them up, making sure they’re ok. An unspoken understanding. That connection you’d get with a random stranger – you’d never push over a stranger in the street! Somehow within the realm of a mosh pit, it’s a safe way of doing that and encourages some fun. We love mosh pits at our shows.”
Now, at 36 years old, what kind of mosher is Damiani now? One who watches out for his slipped disc? “Totally!” he laughs.
Don Broco begin their Australian tour next week. Tickets are on sale now.
2023 AUSTRALIAN TOUR
With alt. and Wayside
Thursday, 4 May - 170 Russell, Melbourne
Saturday, 6 May - The Metro, Sydney
Sunday, 7 May - The Triffid, Brisbane