Canadian trio Danko Jones have been writing gritty balls-to-the-wall rock & roll since 1996 and show no signs of slowing down with the release of their sixth studio album, ‘Rock and Roll Is Black and Blue’. Ahead of their appearance at Soundwave this year, Killyourstereo.com caught up with Danko Jones himself for a quick chat about living the rock and roll life.
G’day mate. Can we please start with your name and favourite album of last year?
Danko Jones and my favorite album of last year was Van Halen’s A Different Kind Of Truth.
We’ve been spinning your new album Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue in the office a whole bunch lately. It’s got a real classic rock vibe about it, perfect for warm summer nights. Can you tell us a bit about how the album came together and what inspired the lyrics?
Pretty much the same process with all our records: we wrote a bunch of songs. Same inspiration for all our songs: women.
Have you ever ended up black and blue after a particularly rowdy show?
Sure. I’ve given myself a black eye. My retina detached in ’06 and resulted in me being short-sighted in my right eye and far-sighted in my left eye. I now wear very odd prescription glasses because of it.
You’ll be in Australia pretty soon as part of the massive Soundwave festival, which is being headlined by the mighty Metallica and a whole heap more. Have you checked out the festival lineup? Are there any bands you’re keen to check out or hang out with backstage?
Definitely. There is a huge amount of bands I’m looking forward to checking out and hanging out with. There are a lot of Toronto bands this year, which is where we’re from too, so it’s gunna be a blast. I can’t wait to hang with Fucked Up, Gallows, Billy Talent, Kyuss Lives, Kingdom of Sorrow and Duff KcKagan’s Loaded. Plus, would love to check out Metallica, Anthrax and Red Fang.
What else do you plan on getting up to during your time Down Under? It’s been a while since your last trip here.
When I’m on tour, my main duty is to rock the crowd that come to our shows. I don’t go on tour to be a tourist. I’ll do that on my own time. I want to rock the Soundwave crowd and that’s all I want to do.
We’re pretty sure you guys would be fans of AC/DC, but are there any other Australian bands that you really dig?
Absolutely! Rose Tattoo, Birthday Party, The Saints, Wolfmother… there are so many more. I would say that I’ve always had a thing for Kylie Minogue too.
‘Just A Beautiful Day’ has proved to be a massive hit for you guys. Did you know you had a hit on your hands when you wrote that song or has its success been a bit of a surprise?
You never know what people will gravitate to. You just write a bunch of songs and hope that people will dig it as much as you do. We don’t write hit songs, we write albums. The thought of sitting down to specifically pen a hit song is kinda gross to me.
How do you find the time to contribute to magazine columns, host radio programs and still rock around the world? You must be super organised.
I’m not super organised, I’m just super boring. I listen to music and that’s it. I don’t do a radio show anymore because I couldn’t handle the workload but I do a podcast now on my own time. I like to talk about stuff so writing keeps me quiet and gives the people around me a chance to rest their ears.
Having contributed to the book Sex Tips from Rock Stars, what’s it actually like backstage at a Danko Jones show? Is it really all the sex, drugs and partying like in the movies?
Did you read the book? Obviously you didn’t because if you did you’d have read that I didn’t have many “tips”. Also, I didn’t contribute to the book but rather did a phone interview. The author printed my answers but my whole contribution took about 30 minutes.
Are you still a total womaniser? Do you plan on settling down any time soon?
Assuming I’m a womaniser is on you. If you read my lyrics, a lot of the songs tell of getting dumped and heartbreak if you don’t put your heart on the line. Most womanisers I know don’t do that or don’t even know what that means. I find the term “womaniser” insulting, to be honest.
What are your top five lovemaking songs?
Anything off of Velvet Underground with Nico or Isaac Hayes’ Hot Buttered Soul works for me.
Um, I don’t mean to be rude, but why does Danko Jones have so many ex-drummers?
It seems, at first glance, that we go through a lot of drummers but if one looks closer it gets a little clearer. We’ve been around for 17 years. Most bands don’t last longer than five years. We’ve had six drummers in that time. What people don’t see or don’t know is that we’ve worked with our manager in different capacities for 12 years had the same sound man for 13 years, label for 12 years, tour manager 10 years and JC and myself have been together doing this band since day one. Seems pretty solid to me.
Some drummers in the band had personal problems that I don’t feel would be fair to talk about here but the people who know the whole story keep working with us so you put it together.
Adam ‘Atom’ Willard is drumming for Against Me! during their upcoming Australian tour. We’re guessing you have no problems with him playing in another band, right?
Finish this sentence: if I wasn’t playing rock & roll I would be…
Starting a band.
Danko Jones are supporting Duff McKagan’s Loaded during two Sidewaves in Sydney and Melbourne. This is a rad combo, but looking back on your career, you’ve supported quite a diverse range of bands, from Nickelback through to The Rolling Stones and Motörhead. What do you learn/get out of supporting such different bands?
It’s fun going out and opening up for big bands. The onus isn’t on you so you can try and win some new people over to your side and have the rest of the evening to watch a rock show and relax.
On the topic, is there extra pressure to perform when you’re playing an opening set?
There’s more pressure headlining. No one is there to see you anyway.
Do you have any parting words of advice?