Rozhovor 13.09.2023 Danko Jones en - HELLMAGAZINE

Prejsť na obsah
Samuel Sámel


Just a few days before the release of the new album “Electronic Sounds”, we bring you an interview with the head and name of the legendary Canadian hard rock formation DANKO JONES. Their eleventh studio album and 27 years on the scene have brought some inevitable changes on music scene itself and therefore, we not only talked about the album itself, but we also took a peek “behind the curtain”.


Let´s get straight into the topic – you are releasing new album „Electronic Sounds“. Could you tell us a bit more about inspiration that leads you to the new album?

Inspiration? The rent needed to be paid so we made a new album. That´s what we usually do every two years – we make a new record and that allows us to keep touring. We´ve consistently put out album every two years for the last 20. If every album would have some kind of special inspiration and we´ll have to wait for it to come, we wouldn´t put out any albums. We´re working band, you know. We´re not one of these bands that don´t need to do it and they wait for inspiration because they got trust funds that take care of their mortgages and car payments. We do this because this is our job and we love it.

How does the new album differ from previous album in terms of musical style, riffs and stuff like that?

If you go really deep into each song, there are differences but from a viewpoint that is further away, just from looking objectively, there is no real change album to album. I mean, if you want to get to minutiae of the songs, yeah, there are changes and different sources of inspiration, but from a further standpoint, it´s just hard rock. We come from the same school as the bands like The Ramones, AC/DC, Motörhead and Slayer came out of. And that is – if it´s not broken, don´t fix it. So that´s basically what we do.

Can you track some evolution in music from your earlier works and how does it manifest in the new album?

You know, when we first started out, we were garage punk band. We did very simple songs – 1,5 or 2,5 minutes songs with no bridges or choruses. That was kind of scene back then in a mid to late 90s. there was very thriving garage punk scene and that´s what we were part of. Then few things happened – we kind of got rejected by the labels that were part of the scene, we realized that aesthetics of it were more or less just a pose, sound aesthetics were a pose. Bands were trying to sound like they were recorded on a shitty cassette recorders when you have access to really good studios for a reasonable price but they needed that pose so they could sound real. And I just thought it was kind of fake. So we transitioned into hard rock band which is part of my upbringings anyway so I wasn´t compromising anything. Hard rock is a part of me. It was an easy transition. We recorded our songs in better studios, we put more songwriting emphasis into our songs, there suddenly were bridges and choruses and that was over 20 years ago. Ever since then, I think we got better at our songwriting, more consistent and that pretty much is the biggest progress there.

Could you walk us through the songwriting process for this new album? Do you need any special environment to be in to be able to write a song?

No, the process has changed over the years and the last album – “Power Trio” – we had to write it apart one of the another because of the pandemics and that taught us that we don´t even have to live in the same city. Rich Knocks – our drummer – he moved into another province on the other side of the country, JC – our bass player – he even moved to another country. He lives in Finland now. And I still live here in Toronto, Canada. We send files out to one another while making this album, writing this record because of what we learned from previous album. The question was – Are the songs gonna be as strong as the songs we wrote in front of each other? When we vibe with each other. Result was – at least I feel that way – that songs are actually better. We got rid of all the fat. When we were in front of each other, jamming on this one riff for two hours and going nowhere, now we did that on our own in our home. We got rid of all the fat and came to state when we send each other the knob of what we want to show to each other. Then they take it and upgrade it with their best. We weren´t just staring at each other like we used to do for like 90 minutes jamming on this riff and going nowhere. And then going home, bringing some new ideas and going back in. we just got rid of all that. I think it made for a leaner, quicker, more direct songwriting process. I think that the songs speak for themselves. I think the last two albums have some of our strongest songs we´ve ever written.

Album artwork plays an important role in showing the albums ideas. Could you discuss the concept of the album cover for “Electric Sounds” and how it relates to the music itself?

There is no real bridge other than that we had a title, we liked the artist Martin Ander – he did a couple of t-shirt designs for us from the last tour and we thought they were really cool and maybe he could do an album cover for us and that´s what he came up with. After few suggestions and stuff. There wasn´t really anything like main idea of the album that we needed to translate into the artwork. It never really been like that. It was more like we just like this person´s work and we want to see what he could come up with.

How do you want your live show evolve in the light of the new album release?

Nothing different really. Other than us playing and giving space in the setlist for some of the new songs. I mean, we are already playing “Guess who´s back” and “Good Time” – the two songs that have been released. There is gonna be another song “Get High” that gets released as a single – we´ll play that and I think that on the day of release, there is another song – “Shake your City”, which is the last single that would be released. We´ll play that and maybe we´ll add another song. That´s like 4-5 new songs in the setlist from the new album. The problem is – and this is the problem that only a few bands get to go through because most bands never last through more than seven years – the average lifespan of the named band is seven years – we´ve been around for 27. This is our 11th album of original material and 11th studio album. So our discography expands, but the setlist time does not. It´s always between 60 to 90 minutes. It never expands. You can put out 50 albums but you still only have at the most 90 minutes to play. If you are band like Metallica who sometimes don´t have opening band or they just could get away with it – they could play for two hours. But Metallica is still gonna have at most 2,5 hours to play. As the band grows older and older and discography gets bigger and bigger, that is the problem you have to solve. You have to play the new stuff, you have to play songs that got you there and got people into the seats, you got to play stuff that makes you happy and you have to play songs for people who´ve seen you 10 times that don´t want to hear same old singles all over again. You gotta play some deep cuts. AND – you have to fit it into 60 to 90 minutes. That is the problem! Inevitably, you´ll always hit with someone who goes “You didn´t play anything off this album” or “Why didn´t you played this song” or “Why don´t you do this”. Well, we don´t have five hours. A lot of our live shows are built on spontaneity – whatever happens. If someone yells something, I am very open and receptive to answering them back and that adds to spontaneity of a live show that keeps bringing people back to the show. So whatever happens, happens. If you plan it strictly, it´ll definitely go wrong.

So no tour setlist or something like that?

I mean, there is setlist that is not written in stone but it´s written. It could change over the course of the tour. If some songs aren´t working together, we´ll take them out or space them out or put some new songs in. If there are songs we have to play but some of us doesn´t like to play them, we´ll play them for a little bit and take them out. That kind of thing.

There is a single Good Time on the new album and the lyrics of the song capture the sense of regret of missed opportunities. Could you share some personal moment that inspired this particular part of the song?

I mean, there is nothing specific, but if you get me talking I can definitely come up with instances where I got regret. Everybody can in their life if you live a life and you don´t sit in your room. Even that is regret. But if you live and you interact with people and world long enough, you´ll definitely have regrets – that´s how it goes. There sure as hell are things I regret! How about you? Or anybody! No one´s flawless. We´re not born perfect, we´re born to get better and you can´t get better without making mistakes and having things crumble and learning from that.

You kind of already mentioned it – there was pandemics that changed music industry a lot. How have this changed your way of work with social media, work online and stuff like that?

Well I have recently just extricated myself from social media, I am not really on it any more. I post on Instagram or Facebook if they want me to but I usually don´t stick around to see the results of the posts in the comments.

So you kind of got rid of the whole response of the social media?

For the most part, yes. I just don´t have time for it. It´s too negative a lot of the time and it´s toxic a lot of the time. I don´t need that.

As an established rock band, how do you view on the role of streaming platforms in reaching and engaging with the audience?

It´s kind of like Catch-22. Ying-Yang thing – there are good things about it, for example the fact that you reach more people that you ever had before because it´s free for a lot of people to easily access your music. It´s so open. But the return on it is minimal. I think it´s common knowledge that bands don´t get nearly anything off what some podcasts get on these platforms so it just doesn´t really add up. But it does get people get to your band more that ever before.

How you hope your fans will connect to the new album on the personal level?

I hope they will.

Any special emotions you want to bring to them, maybe?

Nope, it´s same as for every album – I hope they will connect, they will like it and enjoy it. It´s not supposed to bring you sadness, it´s supposed to bring energy and excitement and that´s it.

We are Slovak magazine and you played here few times, most recently this summer on Topfest. What are your memories of Slovakia?

It was a great show, we had a lot of fun and it´s still really early days with some of the new songs so I hope we played them well enough for everybody, but … we´ve been to Slovakia, well, not a lot of times, but a few times and it was always good and I always want to get back there.

Do you ever got time and space to walk around and see something more than just a venue?

Usually not, but you know, it´s not a vacation. I am at work.

There is a lot of new musicians that are trying to establish themselves in the industry, especially in rock or metal genre. What would you recommend them or what advice would you give them to …

I don´t know. The only advice I have is to listen to a lot of music to buy records and listen to those. That is the only advice I have. If you would ask me to start a new band today, I wouldn´t know what to do. I have no idea. It´s changed. We´ve been around for 27 years. 27  years ago I knew what to do but now, I don´t know how to start a band. I don´t even know where to play in our hometown. I don´t even know what night to play, who to call, who is the booker. I have no idea. I have been living in a different world for years – touring in a band internationally is a great bubble to be in, but if you are asking me advice for a touring band in a different bubble … no bubble is different than the other. I don´t know where to start. If band from Toronto would come for me that they have songs and wanna play downtown, what to do, that´s what I would tell them. I DON´T KNOW! I don´t know what club or who to call.

With another album coming out, you are reaching another milestone for the band. How do you typically celebrate the release of the new album?

Usually there was something special, I listened to the album, got into it but it´s changed. The leadup time to this album from the time we released the first song to when the actual album is released is 4 fucking months! It used to be two months and bam! It´s out, you are touring and boom. But 4 fucking months leadup time?! That´s insane! I don´t get it. And in those 4 months, there are already 3 songs that are released and by the time when the album came out it´s like “Oh, didn´t they released album like 4 months ago?!” NO! Those were just the songs that are supposed to tell you the album is coming out. So I don´t know the game anymore. To be honest with you, I am confused and I don´t necessarily agree with how it´s been rolled out. We put out the song which was supposed to be just a teaser and then that got played on the radio and that got the #1. And it fucked up all the other plans for all the other songs because this teaser track, which is the great problem to have, don´t get me wrong, it shot up the charts and it got to #1, then fall to #3 and everything was calm again. But then it got back to #1 again! And it is great problem to have but it fucked up the time line of 4 months so what are you gonna do?

OK, so what is the real milestone for you? Release of the first single or …

Every chance we got to stay a band after 27 years and be a new band. We are not that kind of band that come and say “We´re gonna play that album from 2008 in all it´s entirety, come and see us” or “We´re re-uniting with this one or another one” or “We have The Greatest Hits out!”. We are not any of that shit! We are new band putting out new music and that is success for me. Saying that, all I can say is that we got new album coming out – “Electric Sounds” and it´s out on September 15th! Check it out!
Návrat na obsah