Danko Jones is a fast-rising Canadian trio who fuse their bluesy roots with some seriously beefy rock to form a hybrid so groovy that both the gents and the ladies love it.
The self-styled, guitarist/vocalist whom the trio is named after took some time away from his fellow band mates to fill musicOMH in on the ins and outs of doll-collecting, Canada, being a workaholic and er, Jo Guest.
“Oh man, I was gonna f**king kill her! She just barged into me, and I was carrying…”
There follows a momentary pause while Danko contemplates sacrificing his place on the cool list.
“… I was carrying this doll. Okay, so I’m a bit of a geek, I collect dolls (that’s “action figures” to us Johnny English types!) and I managed to find an out of manufacture James Hetfield Metallica doll, and the whole point of it being valuable is that it’s in its packet and in excellent condition, as she just barged into me and, ah man, I was like, ‘Here, you might as well take it – it’s no use to me now!'”
“Okay, so I’m a bit of a geek, I collect dolls.” – Hard rocker and ladies man, Danko Jones may regret confessing to that one.
Ranting over, thew wounded Danko turns his attention to the matter at hand – how his band came together:
Well I think I was six when I first touched a guitar and then left it till I was about 13. I’ve pretty much been in bands since then, but when I was in high school, it was really academic you know? It was very geared towards people becoming doctors and lawyers… but that wasn’t me. Anyway, I managed to find a few guys who were interested in similar things and on the same wavelength.”
So is Danko Jones a classic high school band done good?
“Oh no, that wasn’t the start of Danko Jones, I was at film school for two years, and checking out bands during that time and playing too, and then my band broke up and I started playing bass in JC’s band, and it went from there really.”
With the history of the band sussed out, we wonder if their North American twang gets the Canadian lads mistaken for mere Yanks, and whether that is a hindrance?
“Well, yeah we’ve always stressed that we’re Canadian and as much as I detest the Canadian music industry, we’re not Americans. That assumption gets made a lot until they see the flag on our luggage. I feel it’s an important distinction to make, especially after 9/11 – we wanted people to know we’re from a neutral country. Canadians are known as being smoother, more laid back and chilled you know?”
“Well Jo Guest is English so you gotta love England for that!” – Danko Jones does his best to restore his lustful reputation.
So what are the benefits to hailing from the land of Maple leaves?
“Well I would say there is a much better healthcare System, It’s a lot cleaner so there’s less pollution and there is less segregation. Toronto is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world man, whereas in the US, if you go to a city it’s all in zones – so you go to the Hispanic zone or the Chinese zone and you can really tell the difference. Everything is kept apart and it’s obvious. I think that’s sad man.”
Having almost proven that there’s more to himself than being a lusting rocker with an unquenchable desire for the opposite sex, Danko then shoots down any socio-political credibility he has just gained when asked what he likes about England:
“Well Jo Guest is English so you gotta love England for that!”
“I don’t like the weather here though! (Laughs.) It’s like urgh (laughs turn to sighs). I can understand why a lot of the music that comes form here is either really angry or depressed and really heavy. Although that’s where good music comes from you know, so it’s cool. You guys have been great exporters of excellent music.”
“There are a lot of bookstores here too – you people read a lot more than back home. So, like all the great rock press, is British too. You guys just need more sunshine!”
“As for all these MC5/Stooges Johnny-come-lately new rock and roll bands – they can go and get f**ked!” – Danko Jones is presumably not a fan of The Strokes…
Time to steer things back to the music. A word that is constantly thrown at Danko Jones’ brand of hard rock is “soulful”. Does the man have a problem with that?
“Soul is such a loaded word – it carryies connotations with all the “cool things” in life you know? I really hate that so I try to not use it a lot of the time. I’m never gonna say, ‘You got soul’ – it’s just not right. As for all these MC5/Stooges Johnny-come-lately new rock and roll bands – they can go and get f**ked! Whenever I hear that it’s like, urgh! (grunts loudly) If you had soul, you wouldn’t need to say so man!”
For a band who work so damn hard (Danko alone has a spoken word tour on the horizon and a weekly radio show on Rocket FM in Sweden), and manage themselves, you would imagine that it would be hard keeping up with the hectic touring schedule. Danko seems to take it all in his stride:
“The trick is to stay on the road for 12 months of the year, although it’s amazing to get home and be like, ‘Oh man, my toilet!’ But now we’re away so often it feels weird to be home. I’m not interested in being home, I wanna postpone that as long as I can.”
“And I love that we’re a self-managed band. JC takes care of that, but mostly I hate not being active (you don’t say!). As much fun as it is to chill out, it’s more fun to work, work, work and then sit back and watch the progress you’ve made.”
An obvious believer in reaping what you sos, the restless Danko wraps up his chat and heads off to soundcheck. My advice is to catch the workaholic electrifying act in a small venue while you still can.
Danko Jones – Never Too Loud
Danko Jones – Sleep Is The Enemy
Interview: Danko Jones
Danko Jones @ Islington Academy, London
Danko Jones – We Sweat Blood