Rock ‘n’ roll ain’t no luxury item. It’s essential. It’s the blood in our veins and the fire in our hearts. And nobody does it better than DANKO JONES. Danko Jones is headed back to Australia for the first time since 2013’s Soundwave Festival thanks to Silverback Touring. Danko totally blew the crowds away at the festival and at sideshows earning rave reviews form fans and critics from every show.
Danko Jones have grown in strength with every new album and breathless round-the-world trek. While touring with everyone from Volbeat to Guns N’ Roses, Danko and his comrades have earned a formidable reputation as one of the few modern hard rock bands that truly unite the tribes, bringing punk rockers and metal purists together through sheer force of personality and amp-wrecking oomph. Danko himself speaks to Hi Fi Way about the tour and new album A Rock Supreme.
It seems as if it has been way to long since Danko Jones have done an Australian headline tour?
Yeah, I think we did a headline tour in 2004 maybe 2003, so it’s definitely been a long time. We were on the Soundwave Festival tour in 2013.
Is this tour about getting reacquainted with Australian audiences again?
I think it’s a matter of them getting reacquainted with us. We’re just going to go out there and play. It’s a matter of finding the rock fans in Australia and bringing them to the show.
Is this tour going to go have a heavy leaning on your new album A Rock Supreme? Or is it going to be a greatest hits style of show?
The shows we’ve been playing we’ve incorporated four songs off the new album in our set list but after nine studio albums, twelve albums in total of original material, because we have three compilation albums, it’s kind of a tight rope to walk trying to choose a set list, so we do songs that a lot of people might know or might have heard, whether it’s through YouTube or the radio, or Spotify. Then, maybe some deep cuts for people who may have seen us before and songs for ourselves to entertain ourselves. There’s a lot of things you have to take into consideration when coming up with a set list for a band like us, who don’t really have a string of hits and nor do we have that one hit that everybody wants to hear, so we’re kind of in this weird middle.
How do you prepare yourself for a gruelling Australian tour schedule of travel to Australia, three shows in three days, and then travel back to the next country after that?
I don’t think it’s that gruelling. I mean, it’s a long flight, but I don’t know how to prepare other than just go out there and rehearse and go out there and play the shows. Is it really that gruelling?
Others will say that’s tough because I they get used to having a rest day or a travel day in there, see the country, but I guess you come, you rock out, and move on to the next country.
Oh, that’s their Achilles heel right there, you just nailed it. Going to see the rest of the country. I’m working. I’m not a tourist. I can see Australia when we headline the stadium there, and we’re going to spend a whole week there. In order to work up to that, we just got to get there, play shows and just get to work. Whenever we’re on tour, I’m not there to be a tourist. I don’t care about seeing the sights. I’m sure the sights are great, and Australia is beautiful and wild, and it’s worth checking out, but I’m here to play rock.
Is having album number nine out just as exciting as releasing your first?
Yeah, the first time that we put out an album, even the second time, it was definitely, on our end, highly anticipated, because it never happened to us before. Not highly anticipated with anyone else because they didn’t know who the hell we were. After nine albums, it’s not that the sheen has worn off, it’s just that we’re used to this feeling. I’ve been through it eight times before and I know what to expect. The first time around I didn’t know if I’d be having tea with the queen in two months.
Do you feel like this one really challenged you as a band just as much as the others?
Well we did this one with Garth Richardson. He produced the album. He lives in Vancouver, we live in Toronto, and so it’s thousands of miles apart. So I think being able to go out there, away from home, we’ve done most of our albums at home, that was different. That was a little challenging but in terms of the music we just went in, wrote a bunch of cool rock tunes or at least cool rock tunes we thought were cool and trusted that Garth would have the ear to guide them along and make them sound great. I think he really nailed it. The drums sound awesome. The guitar tones are perfect and I really loved how I sang and I really loved the process of recording the vocals with Garth. So that was all great.
Has the process of making an album changed much or is it still relatively the same?
Not for the last few. We pretty much nail it, where we know there’s going to be pre-production, we know there’s going to be months where we get to write songs. Whereas in the past, and I’m talking about albums like We Sweat Blood, Sleep Is the Enemy, our second and third, even fourth album, we had a handful of songs we were lucky enough to write a couple in the studio, but that’s not how you make a really good album. We’re not made of money, and to go into a studio without the songs already arranged to the best that you can, if you don’t have all the songs written at least, I mean, you are just basically walking into a money pit. You’re just going to bleed money, because you’re going to spend all that time coming up with some song that you could have done in your rehearsal space for free. Pre-production is something we definitely made a note of and we’ve done that for the last five, six albums, seven albums. I mean, we pretty much dialled into how to make a record and how to prepare to make a record.
So we walk in, we’ve got about fifteen ideas. Usually we pick the best ten or eleven. This time we picked eleven songs and all of them made the album. We didn’t over record, we chose the best eleven that we recorded for the album. The eleven songs we recorded are the eleven songs we walked into the studio to record. It’s not on a conveyor belt, but we know what to do now and that was through trial and error. That was through many times of walking into studio not being completely prepared.
Did you start high fiving each other in the studio when you finished songs such as Dance, Dance, Dance?
No one’s high-fiving anyone, at least from my point of view, mainly because I never write a single. I never walk into the studio, regardless what the other guys think, I never walk in going this is the song. This is where I’m going to put all my cards on because I just want to come up with a solid ten, eleven or twelve songs to make a solid album. I’m an album kind of guy. I’m not a singles guy. It’s up someone else to pick the singles. I really have no antenna for that. I have zero radar for that. So, I’ve never really been able to choose the singles and for this album, I didn’t choose Dance, Dance, Dance as a single. Someone else did and that’s great that they did, but we’re not going, oh this is going to be the hit. Maybe one or two of us might think it, but I don’t.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch Danko Jones on the following dates, tickets through Silverback Touring…