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Interview – Danko Jones, January 2013

| 2 February 2013 | Reply

By Shane Pinnegar

Danko Jones hits Australia for the first time in almost ten years in February and March for the Soundwave Festival tour.  I wanted to get a sense of the man: his online footprint paints a picture of a slightly obsessive character, seemingly a teetotal workaholic, a man whose music is highly sexually charged and focussed – was this the real Danko Jones?

The call came through a little behind schedule, something Danko immediately apologised for.  Softly spoken and confident, he may well be mildly obsessive, but he knows what he likes and what gives him joy, and he’s not about to apologise for any of that!

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100%: So, thanks very much for your time today.

No problem.

100%: Congratulations on the new album, man. It really kicks ass, I loved it!

Thank you very much. Thanks a lot.

100%: And you must be looking forward to coming to Australia for the Soundwave festival, I think you were here back in 2004, is that right?

That’s right, its been so long ever since we did that tour way back then, and every year I’ve been asked why Australia isn’t on the itinerary, but its nice to know that when we finally return it’s with Soundwave, and it’s a great line up this year, so I’m pretty happy about it.

100%: Absolutely, and we’re really excited that you are coming all the way out west to Perth as well.

Yeah, it’s going to be a lot of fun. Even the Sidewave shows with Duff McKagan – it’s going to be a blast.

100%: Excellent. What are you looking forward to about playing the festival?

Just to play to Australian audiences after nine years. We get comments… when social media kind of opened up there were a lot of people from Australia who have been asking for us to come back. Leaving comments on our website, whatever page; Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, whatever it is, we get a lot of attention from Australia. Australia obviously have an international reputation for embracing rock and exporting rock, so I didn’t understand why we didn’t return [to Australia] more often than just one lone time. So first and foremost it’s to play for the Australian crowds.

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To do it for Soundwave, which is a festival veered more towards hard rock and heavy metal, makes sure the audience can get in. That’s first and foremost. Second of all it’s the fact that the line-up this year, like I said, is great. There are a lot of bands from Toronto; Fucked Up, Billy Talent, Sum 41, Cancer Bats and Wade from Alexis On Fire, who sings for Gallows now, so it’s going to be a lot of fun to hang with a bunch of Torontonians all the way in Australia.

And then, compounded with the fact that Metallica, Anthrax, Kingdom of Sorrow, and Kyuss Lives: we’re friends with those dudes and I’m friends with Jamie from Kingdom of Sorrow. And then there’re bands that I don’t know, but I want to check out, like Red Fang. So there are a whole bunch of reasons for doing Australia and doing it with Soundwave.

100%: Sounds almost like a working holiday.

Yeah, and it can kind of seem like that too. Usually when you play a festival it’s great. It’s few and far between that they’ll have a line-up that is very consistent [like] Soundwave, when you look at the line up and go; I want to see that band, that band, that band, I can’t wait to meet that dude, that guy, this guy I haven’t talked to him for a while. You can point at all the bands and go wow!

100%: Awesome, how about off stage, is there anything you’re specifically looking forward to seeing or doing while you’re here?

No, I’m not a tourist. I’m here to rock the Australian crowds. Whenever we’re on tour, there are some bands who take it upon themselves to be a tourist during down time. That’s not really my cup of tea. I’m there to rock the crowds that are there and come see us. That’s first and foremost. I’ll do the touristy sightseeing on my own time, but to make a trip all the way down to Australia and to spend energy on sightseeing and tourist destinations, no offence to Australia, but I’ll be coming all the way down there and I want to make sure that I spend every ounce of energy I have on stage. Hopefully if the shows work out well and people like us then we can come down there and keep going down there and one day I’ll be able to check it out as a vacation. Whenever we are on tour it doesn’t matter where we are, I usually have my mind set on the nights’ show.

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100%: So where is the line drawn between Danko Jones the man, and Danko Jones the band? How much of a democracy is the outfit?

When we’re on stage I have the microphone and I’m the singer and I do a lot of the talking and I do the interviews mostly, like right now, but behind the scenes it is actually set equally. We’re a democracy and that’s just how we roll. The thing is when we first started the band it was a way to stand out from the plethora of bands that put the word ‘The’ in front of their name. Regardless of that the singer would always get the attention, so why not cut to the chase? Stand out a little bit more.

We’ve been around now for 17 years, so 17 years ago what was happening in our scene was a garage rock scene. Every band had the word ‘The’ in front of their name. The Oblivions, The Dirtbombs, The Makers, The New Von Turks, The Headcoats and eventually The White Stripes and The Hives came out of that, and we came out of that as well, but we just didn’t have the word ‘The’ in front of it. I just didn’t want to be ‘The’ whatever, again. So that’s how we stood out.

And of course, you know in the scene before we started the band, my former band, we used to talk a lot and so when we formed this band we wanted to stand out a little bit more.

100%: Atom: how has he fit in on the drums since Dan left a couple of years back?

The album speaks for itself. He’s been able to fit in quite easily on the drums in the band. His performance speaks for itself.

100%: Great, so what’s the story behind your nickname, ‘The Mango Kid’?

It started years ago, I just have this appetite for mangoes, anything mango but since then, I have to admit it, since then I get mangoes thrown at me all the time. They’re put on the rider and all this stuff.  I’m mango’ed out, to be honest with you.

100%: [Laughs] Moving on! What sort of set list can Australian fans expect? Are you mainly playing the new album, or is there a bit of a cross-section?

It is a bit of a cross section because we have to re-introduce ourselves to Australian fans and Australian rock people, and Soundwave is more on the heavier side, so we will probably have more of a heavy tinged set list going on, sprinkled with, obviously the new album, but I don’t know how long our set is. We were headlining Europe a couple of months ago and we made a new set list, but I don’t think we have that much time, but what we have we usually try and… we’re a rock band so every album we put out is pretty much rock. There isn’t any album that stands out, so you’re going to get a bunch of rock songs. It’s kind of finding a way to please a lot of people, whether its people who have been into us for a long time, people who have just got into us maybe an album ago or two, or maybe they just got into us from our new single. It’s going to be a set list that pleases everybody hopefully.

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100%: From the clips that I’ve seen on YouTube and so on, you’re very intense when you perform. What’s going through your head when you’re on stage in front of thousands of fans?

I like to maintain eye contact, constant eye contact. So I don’t really like to watch my guitar too much. Just have that connection. I don’t like to have too much silence in between songs. You either go straight into the song or just something happening that’s really punk. I just don’t like the band to drop. So what’s going through my mind is just basically making sure I’m connecting with the audience by suitable eye contact, to each and every one I can see.

100%: I’ve also read that you don’t drink, you don’t smoke, but you have a certain reputation as, what one writer described as ‘a drooling, salacious, Canadian sex pervert’, how do you feel about being labelled that?

Ha ha! Well that’s that person’s interpretation of what he’s seen. I don’t know what to say to you, it’s true, I’ll have a nice glass of wine with a good meal, but it’s only to enhance the food, it’s not really to party down or whatever. I don’t do that stuff, I haven’t done it in a long, long, long, long time, and it’s a way to just keep going on the road. The way we tour, I see younger bands do it but a) they don’t go on tour as often and as long as we do, and b) you don’t realise that you need X amount of hours of sleep if you’re going to sing the next day, and you can only go so long before you fall out. In terms of the whole sex kind of thing, I mean, I have my perverted moments, sure – just like everyone else.

100%: There’s nothing wrong with that.

There’s nothing wrong with it, as long as it’s all consenting and mutual and, you know, I mean – we’re ALL perverts!

100%: I like that. Your lyrics, a lot of them are based around girls. There’s a certain libidinous quality to your writing. Would you consider sex your primary song writing influence?

I mean yeah, it’s the reason you strike that chord and scream out loud. For some people it’s different, but for me it’s always been a mating call, a cosmopolitan mating call. There’s a few things that always seem to crop up when we’re writing:  it’s the three stages of any relationship.  When you want somebody but you’re not going out with them, they may be the object of your desire; then you’re finally going out with them, in a relationship; then the final concluding end to the relationship when either one of them leaves that person because they annoy the hell out of you, or you get dumped by them because you annoy the hell out of them! The girls you want; the girls you’re going out with; and the girls you used to go out with. Everybody has gone through those stages, guy or a girl, and it’s easy to relate to.

100%: Absolutely. What else inspires you to write?

You know, being in a band there are certain elements of ‘we’re not the most popular band in the world’, digging the dirt and in entertainment – in any kind of business, really – there’s always politics involved and stuff, [deep sigh] and people rip you off and screw you over, and stuff like that. It has nothing to do necessarily with relationships with the opposite sex, it’s more just like songs of anger, played with three chords, I don’t know what else to tell you.

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100%: It’s working for you, man. So what does the rest of 2013 hold for Danko Jones? I believe you’re heading out in the States with Volbeat straight after the Australian tour?

Yeah – right after, we don’t even get to go home for a day, we go straight from Australia to Dallas to start the Volbeat tour for about five or six weeks, go home for six weeks and then go out to Europe for two weeks for headlining shows and then it’s three months of festivals. It’s a great circuit to be in, a great way to spend the summer, but it’s going to be crazy come June, July and August it’s going to be festivals, and yeah, it’s going to be fun times.

100%: Aside from the music you host a radio show, you write for a few magazines, you do podcasts, you’ve done spoken word shows and one CD of that – what do you do to RELAX?

I don’t do the radio show any more. I haven’t done it for about six or seven years because I couldn’t keep up with it. I don’t do that any more, but I do the podcast once every two weeks, twice a month, and the magazines I write for I’ve whittled it down to Rock Sound in Spain, Corporate Magazine in Sweden and a weekly column in the Huffington Post. That’s what I do to relax!

I mean I don’t really get a lot of satisfaction from… I mean tonight I finished my latest Huffington Post column to hand into my editor tomorrow. So I finished that and… it made me feel good. It’s cool! It’s a big thing to do because you’ve got to come up with… and for me I’ve got other things on my mind but I’ve still got to try and clear the table and write a thousand words for the Huffington Post every week.

I mean other people have more things to do than that, but it’s a mindset that you don’t usually get to do if you’re in a band and you tour in a rock band and all that kind of stuff. So it’s a nice… it’s not a hobby, but it is definitely something I like, I don’t know, call me boring but I really just want to listen to music and write. That’s all I like to do. Watching movies and TV and playing video games and hanging out with people is all fine, but I can sit in front of a computer for hours on end trying to come up with a column and get extreme amounts of joy when it’s over. It’s like finishing a song or something.

100%: Fantastic. Look mate, thanks so much for your time, and we’re really looking forward to seeing you in Perth, so have a great tour and all the best for 2013!

Thanks a lot, and sorry again about the late call.

No stress whatsoever.

Great.

Danko Jones plays Soundwave Festival in 2013:

Feb 23rd 2013     Soundwave Brisbane
Feb 24th 2013     Soundwave Sydney
Feb 25th 2013     Manning Bar, Sydney with Duff McKagan’s Loaded
Feb 28th 2013     Gershwin Room, Melbourne with Duff McKagan’s Loaded
Mar 1st 2013     Soundwave Melbourne
Mar 2nd 2013     Soundwave Adelaide
Mar 4th 2013     Soundwave Perth

soundwave2013

Shane

Category: Interviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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