Exclusive Interview with Danko Jones

Carlos: How did you begin your musical career?

Danko: Calling up my friends and asking them if they wanted to form a band. It’s as simple as that.

Carlos: Who are the other musicians in the band and what do they bring,musically and otherwise, to it?

Danko: JC plays bass guitar and Dan Cornelius plays drums. JC and I write the songs for our band.

Carlos: What about songwriting in general—what led you to it, to being a musician?

Danko: Well, I’m not interested in being a mimic and being in cover bands. I wanted to write songs and be in a band. Didn’t really think about it too much, it’s just what I’ve always wanted to do.

Carlos: Can you describe the making of the record?

Danko: We wrote the album very quickly last summer (summer ’09) and didn’t really think about the songs too much. We just wanted to catch the first creative sparks and not drive it into the ground. In the end, we had about 30 songs in various stages. We took the best 16 and entered the studio with our producer, Matt DeMatteo last fall. 11 songs made the record and 5 are floating around as b-sides etc.

Carlos: What’s the songwriting like? Does one person handle lyrics, the other music, or is it a mix of both?

Danko: JC and I write the songs but I write the lyrics since I have to sing them every night. I want it to mean something to me and give me gusto to scream them.

Carlos: How does the band, as a whole, construct the songs you have written during the recording process?

Danko: The songwriting process usually starts with me bringing in a bunch of riffs to JC. He’s good at song arrangement and can decipher where riffs get placed. From then on, the next stage resembles somewhat of a tennis match, going back and forth with ideas.

Carlos: Are there any particular records, after having heard them, that drove you to become a musician and record your work?

Danko: Sure. Everything from Metallica’s “Master Of Puppets” to Black Flag’s “My War” to Kiss’ “Dressed To Kill” and everything in between – The Bad Brains “Rock For Light”, The Jesus Lizard “Goat”, Rocket From The Crypt “Circa Now”, AC/DC “Back In Black”, Black Sabbath “Sabotage”, Motley Crue “Shout At The Devil”, Aerosmith “Rocks”, Ramones “Leave Home”, Van Halen “1984” just to name a few.

Carlos: What can your audience expect from you in the coming months?

Danko: Touring, touring and more touring. We’re going everywhere.

Carlos: You’ve got a long string of live shows ahead—do you plan on working through new material during the sets?

Danko: We already have been in the last 6 months. So far we’re playing 4 songs in the set and will probably add 1 or 2 more for the headlining tour in the fall.

Carlos: What excites you about playing your music before an audience?

Danko: That’s actually exactly it – the chance to play our music in front of an audience. Not a lot of people get that chance. There are more people playing their music in their bedrooms than there are people who get to play in front of a willing audience.

Carlos: How difficult is it to translate the music from a record and into a live setting? The   records are so meticulous, it seems that it would be a difficult transition.

Danko: Meticulous? We play 4/4 Rock. It’s not hard to translate at all if you know how to play a power chord.

Carlos: Eternal question: Do you feel that you need that kind of conflict or tension to create good art?

Danko: The Eternal Question is finally answered – Yes and always.

Carlos: The music industry is not exactly at its most stable right now. Are there any influences or other artists that you look to as an inspiration, in terms of negotiating the tricky minefield of staying afloat in an uncertain industry?

Danko: There are a few bands that are embracing digital technology like Einsturzende Neubauten, Neil Young, The Arcade Fire and even Metallica now that make it user friendly to interact with their fans. We’ve always been very open in embracing new technologies too. We just uploaded an iPhone application for people to get and in the past we’ve even digitally given away an EP of ours for free.

Carlos: Do you have any plans for any future collaborations with other artists?

Danko: No plans but I’d always love to do stuff with other people. I’d love Billy Gibbons to do a solo on our record or Tom Araya to sing a song with us. There are literally dozens of people who we would love to work with.

Carlos: Are there any particular artists whose careers you admire, or see as the model that you’d like to follow in some degree?

Danko: Motorhead have always been an inspiration, both musically and aesthetically. I look to bands like The Rolling Stones too because they have their own airplane. It would be nice to have have our own plane too.

Carlos: Besides the influences who do listen to, both locally and nationally?

Danko: My music listening tastes run the gamut. There are only 2 kinds of music anyway – good and bad. Currently I’m listening to albums by Tame Impala, Budos Band, Grand Magus, Shining, Nachtmystium, Overkill, Firebird, Spiritual Beggars, Enslaved and The Melvins.

Carlos: What’s next for the band, both in terms of artistic direction, and general direction? What do you want to happen next?

Danko: Terms such as “artistic direction” are a little too pretentious for this band. We’re a Hard Rock band, always have been and always will be. There’s nothing to contemplate or map out. The next album will be hard rock. We’re a band that knows who we are much like Motorhead, AC/DC, The Ramones and Slayer know who they are too.

Carlos: What are your plans for the rest of this year?

Danko: Well this whole year has been very busy for us, whether it’s touring with Guns N’ Roses or Clutch, opening for Ozzy or playing summer festivals. We’ve also managed to make 2 videos, one for the song, “Full Of Regret”, and featuring Lemmy Kilmister, Elijah Wood, Selma Blair and Mike Watt, and another video for “Had Enough” featuring Ralph Macchio. As I’m doing this interview I’m in Prague in the Czech Republic and tomorrow we’re playing the O2 Arena with Guns N’ Roses. Starting in October we do a headlining tour of Europe and then it’s off to America until Christmas. Hopefully we’ll be able to rest in between somewhere.

 

 

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