Finally, in walks Mr. Danko Jones, dressed in black and apologizing profusely for being late, as he and his band mates J.C (bass) and Rich Knox (drums), were taking time out of their day, to visit the iconic Phil Lynott statue, located on the nearby bustling Grafton Street. Once we get settled, we get down to business to discuss all things Danko Jones.
OD – DANKO JONES have now been making music since back in 1996, so if I’m correct you will be hitting 20 years old next year, do you have anything special planned for that?
DANKO – Well, we did a book in 2012 that was a world history of the band and during that same year we also did a documentary called Bring on The Mountain, that was really culled from all the years of footage that we had accumulated, so that was at the 16 year history point for the band and we did all of that prior to knowing that we had the 20th anniversary coming up. We like to do things our way and not be so predictable, if you know what I mean.
We actually had a meeting a few months back about the anniversary and we came up with some really cool ideas, but at this point in time nothing is confirmed. I can’t really say what the ideas and suggestions were just yet, but I’m sure we will get off our asses and do something special.
OD – Back in the early days when you were doing shows with The New Bomb Turks and Nashville Pussy, do you look back on those days and miss the fun times of it all?
DANKO – There was definitely a wide-eyed energy, where we were flying by the seat of our pants and there was definitely more spontaneity, because we had nothing to live up to, so it started once we began to put stuff out and people had seen us maybe once or twice before that we started to feel like ‘oh they are gonna start to measure us based on the last time they saw us’ and when we were doing stuff for the first time, it was going to be memorable so the second time you either decide to one up yourself constantly, or we just decided to get it to a level where it can maintain and still impact every night, rather than one upping yourself, because your just gonna bottom out and possibly someone is gonna get hurt.
Maybe a fight might break out and we didn’t want that. We were thinking about the shows and we though, we don’t want to get into trouble, because then we won’t be able to tour and the whole reason for starting the band was to do what we love doing and get out of town.
OD – As I mentioned earlier, you have been doing this for considerable long time in terms of most bands careers, I’m sure you have seen many bands come and go as well as sub-genres or fads, what has been the real essence for you to keep carrying on?
DANKO – Well, the shows are still really intense and powerful. The one thing that remains the same for us is the energy on stage and the need to perform and that’s the one constant through all the fads, trends and all the bands that have come and gone. Because the thirst is still there, it’s very obvious to the audience that we want to be there and we want to play in the moment and that really translates to the audience and is not just playing by numbers. That for me, is really the true essence for why I do this and still want to do this and that feeling will always stick with me. Plus, the music that we play, is considered an old form of music at this point and people are very familiar with it. It comes and goes many times and we have stuck through all the phases and changes. We were here and outlasted The White Stripes, we were here before Airbourne and we’re still here doing what we do.
OD – Lets talk about the 7th studio album which cam out in February. What was the thought process behind the title ‘Fire Music’?
DANKO – Well, it took us a very long time to come up with that title and Fire Music has been a title that has been stuck in our heads and we just decided to go with that as a title. We just decided that it reflects the energy and vibe of the songs on the record. It’s an angry album, angrier than our previous three or four albums. so there is an anger there that people have picked up on and there is that fire on the record, so the title just felt right for the songs.
OD – Where did you draw your influences when writing for this album, do you specifically like to put yourself in various situations for lyrical influence or does it come naturally to you in everyday life?
DANKO – No, I’m not that deep. There are a couple of songs on this album that I have written as a kind of story. I have never done that before in the past and it was a new thing for me to write from that perspective. It’s always been first hand experience for me when I’m writing lyrics. There’s a song on the new album called, The Twisting Knife and it has a kind of “murder ballad” type theme to it, but you know, I have never killed anyone (ha ha). I’m interested in the perspective of a character in a story, if you know what I mean. I like to approach it from a character’s point of view and the reason that I have never written in this way before, was because I always thought is was a bit cheesy, based on our past lyrics, songs and they type of band that we are, but for some reason it just felt right this time around and just really fits the feeling of the song and not out of place at all.
This new method of writing really blended in pretty seamlessly with not only this song. but with all the others that were written from this type of first person perspective.
OD – What drew you back to Eric Ratz for this album, as I know that you worked with him years back?
DANKO – Well, there was a couple of things for that decision. Eric Ratz was the engineer on some of the songs off our first European release I’m Alive And On Fire, which was a compilation album. Anyway, we hadn’t heard from Eric in years and a while back J.C (Calabrese – bass) ran into him and they ended up hanging out together and it was a really good reunion, so we were aware of him again, if you know what I mean. Then Scott Middleton from Cancer Bats gave me a copy of the last album Eric produced with them and I really liked the guitar tones with him and then his name just kept coming up again and again, so we just reached out to him and he wanted to do it, so it was really great.
We have a long history with Eric and we were aware of the work that he had done with Billy Talent, Monster Truck and Cancer Bats, so when we finally reached out to him, he really wanted to do it. At the end of the day, Eric is a rocker and totally get’s what Danko Jones is. He totally understands what we are about, he’s from out neck of the woods, if you know what I mean. That was reassuring for us, because a lot of people that produce records are not necessarily into rock music in their personal lives, so he really got what we were talking about when we were referencing particular bands and albums or songs and he got the vibe of where we were coming from.
OD – You have had the honor of touring with the mighty Motörhead, do you have any Lemmy stories from that tour that you can share with me?
DANKO – Yea, we had the honor of playing with Motörhead back in 2008 which was amazing. That tour ended up going to the U.K, Belgum, Germany and France and I had the opportunity of singing Killed By Death, many nights on that tour. I think I had sang it with Lemmy, like sixteen or seventeen times which was just so cool. Yea, there is definitely a presence to him and has a very powerful aura when he walks into a room, or just walks by you. Everybody just stops what they are doing and it’s like, there goes Lemmy! What a dude!
OD – You did some festival dates this year in Europe such as Wacken, how important do you think these metal / rock festivals are and do they compare to the likes of Riot Fest in Canada?
DANKO – We have never actually played Riot Fest, because we are always on tour when it takes place, but festivals have played a huge part in our success over in Europe. When we started playing festivals they used to put us on very early in the day and not a lot of people knew who we were, but we were able to hit thousands of people in one shot and the next time we would be back in that country or in a particular town or area, people would remember us. Much more than if they had seen us in a magazine or on a music video or something like that. They were completely aware of who we were and everything about the band was given to them on a platter in one hour in front of thousands of people and we just kept doing those slots over and over again and after three to four years of doing this, we were headlining venues in these towns and cities across Europe.
OD – It must have been cool to get the call about the WWE using ‘Gonna Be A Fight Tonight”, can you talk a little about how that came about?
DANKO – Well, it wasn’t really a call, but our manager had been talking with them for about a week. The whole thing happened really fast and there was no time to anticipate it. I sort of dropped into our laps and was just really cool. When it did happen, it was amazing to know that it was going to be the theme song for them. I watched it on Pay Per View and you know, I’m not really into the new wrestlers, I’m more into the old school stuff. I was more interested in the fact that Jerry Lawler (A.W.A. World Champion; W.C.C.W. Champion; 2007 W.W.E. Hall of Fame Inductee), was talking about the band and mentioned the name of the album, and that was just very cool. Watching it, they played Gonna Be A Fight Tonight, over and over again throughout the Royal Rumble and I was tweeting and I tweeted the Iron Sheik (1993 W.W.F. World Heavyweight Championship) and he tweeted my back, so that was just awesome!
OD – So you’re here in Dublin and you finally had a chance to see the Phil Lynott statue, how was that for you?
DANKO – Yea, we all went down and got really side tracked, as we were there for a while and got some pictures. JC left a guitar pick in the bass strings, so we can now cross that off the bucket list! It’s just so cool that there is a statue in honor of his legacy. That’s so cool that you have that in your city!
OD – What is your earliest memory of making the decision of playing music for a living?
DANKO – There wasn’t really any moment per say. I can’t really remember to be honest. I mean, we all had jobs so we could keep doing this. When we all left school we were dead set on doing this and I suppose that if a really big job offer came by, it could have threatened the dream of playing music. We really had no options, as we were all doing these shitty jobs to keep the band going and then we turned a corner and got a chance to tour Europe which changed things. Actually, even before that, we just quit out jobs and just took a leap of faith. There was no real moment, it wasn’t as romantic as that, we just took each day as it came and did the best we could. Lucky for us, things worked out for the best.
OD – Finally, what’s on the cards for Danko Jones for the rest of 2015 and early 2016?
DANKO – Well, after the Bristol show on this run, we head over to Scandinavia for two and half weeks and then we come home for a few weeks and then we are back to mainland Europe, which will take us right up to just before Christmas and then we have the 20th anniversary to think about and possibly we will have something cool happening. So we are gonna be pretty busy. We just love being out on the road and getting to play live. We have things happening all the time and like to keep really busy. We are nothing but road dogs and work horses and wouldn’t change it for anything else. We are going to be touring Fire Music well into next year and will be starting to think about album number eight shortly also. Keep your eyes on Danko Jones, as we just never stop!
DANKO JONES are currently on tour with The Amorettes across the U.K. Check out the dates below for a show near you. Click here for the Overdrive review of the Dublin show from 18th September.
For more information on DANKO JONES, check out the links below.
INTERVIEW & TRANSCRIPTION – ORAN O’BEIRNE
PHOTOGRAPHY – STOCK IMAGES © DANKO JONES 2015
INTERVIEW © OVERDRIVE 2015