By Carl Begai
Toronto-based rocker Danko Jones is as multi-faceted a personality as they come, to the point that people unfamiliar with his work might consider him schizophrenic. His soft-spoken, articulate and almost geek-like demeanor during interviews is a stark contrast to the obnoxious mouthpiece dedicated to ripping up the stage night after night with guitar in hand. And if he’s not attending to the next episode of his long-running official podcast, Danko is known for penning articles on everything from the pros and cons of social media, to music he bought on a Christmas shopping binge, to ripping Gene Simmons to shreds for his now infamous “rock is dead” comment. In the end Danko Jones gives Slipknot / Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor a serious run for his money when it comes to keeping people guessing with regards to the next trick up his sleeve.
The band that bears Danko’s name echoes his diversity. Sure, every album since the Born A Lion debut in 2002 is based on the three piece of vocals/guitars/bass/drums rock formula, but each one has presented a slightly different side of the band’s persona. New record Fire Music keeps this tradition alive, and the initial buzz suggests it could well be one of the trio’s finest moments. It’s certainly the heaviest kick to the teeth in their catalogue.
“I think a lot of that has to do with the last record,” Danko begins, referring to Rock And Roll is Black And Blue. “I don’t really want to get in the dynamic that we had in the band at the time, but Atom (Willard/drums) lived in LA. We had to have these massive week long writing sessions, seven or eight hours a day, because he was in Toronto for a limited amount of time. We thought it was time well spent then and I thought it yielded some really good songs, but overall I think it was a little disjointed. There was another dynamic going on in the studio between some people that didn’t really make for a very comfortable easygoing session. There was a real sense of freedom in doing Fire Music.” Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
With each Danko Jones release it’s not an issue of whether the new album is point blank good or bad, but rather how well it stacks up against its predecessors. Like KISS, AC/DC or Motörhead, Danko Jones have made a career of avoiding the use of rocket science in favour of the keep-it-simple-stupid vocals / guitars / bass / drums formula, and new (seventh) record Fire Music continues this tradition. While some folks may chafe at the idea of the Canuck trio being mentioned in the same line as rock / metal royalty, there’s no escaping the fact frontman Danko, bassist JC, and the latest drummer of choice (Rich Knox, please stick around) have earned their longevity rather than living off of YouTube views and Facebook likes padded by Beliebers.
It’s gotta be said that lead-off track ‘Wild Woman’ is standard fare for any Danko Jones release; no great shakes on the one hand but a smart move easing the fans into Fire Music as all bets are off from track #2 onwards. Frontman Jones has gone on record stating that a several songs on the album were inspired / influenced by the Misfits, and it most certainly shows. ‘The Twisting Knife’ followed in rapid succession by ‘Gonna Be A Fight Tonight’ and ‘Body Bags’ amount to almost 10 minutes of punk energy gift-wrapped in singalong attitude, echoed later on the album with equally speed-crazed ‘Piranha’ and ‘Watch You Slide’. Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
Folks can argue that the Sleep Is The Enemy album from 2006 put Canadian (former underground) rockers Danko Jones on the map. If that’s the case, Below The Belt gave the band free reign to choose when and where their three-man circus would touch down on that map. Released in May 2010, it yielded three singles and star-studded videos for each, support tours with Guns N’ Roses and Motörhead, international festival gigs, and headline tours across Europe. Frontman and namesake Danko Jones calls Below The Belt an album that had to be made in the wake of the disappointing – as far as he’s concerned – Never Too Loud record from 2008. And in the end, it laid the groundwork in a big way for their new platter Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue.
“Below The Belt did really well for us on radio in Canada, the States and Europe, so I’m glad it had the legs; definitely more than Never Too Loud did. In hindsight Never Too Loud was a bit of a misstep for us, but I wouldn’t really take it back now that we’ve done Below The Belt and Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue because I like bands that have hills and valley to their discography. Living through Never Too Loud for those one-and-a-half years wasn’t torturous, but the outcome of the session was kind of annoying. I’d rather put Never Too Loud out again, but only as the demos. When we had those demos we were going into a world class studio with a world class producer (Nick Rasculinecz / Rush, Death Angel) thinking that was the album, but it didn’t turn out that way. I resisted saying anything when we were doing press because I couldn’t understand what people were hearing that I wasn’t. When we were finishing Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue I went back and listened to Never Too Loud, which was critically the worst received album we’ve done, and I wanted to make sure we weren’t at that level. I didn’t realize how sonically poor Never Too Loud was compared to the more recent two albums.” Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
Toronto rockers Danko Jones have been a buzz band for years. Europe caught on long before Canada and the United States, turning them into an annual staple on the metal festival of your choice sandwiched with some of metal’s finest. A support tour with Motörhead and Saxon in 2008 gave them a foothold in the UK, not to mention serious credibility amongst the old metal guard. Up until now Canada and the US have devoted half an eye to the band beyond the diehard fans that have been following them for a decade, but 2010 may well be the year things change for the better. It began with a coveted opening slot on the Canadian leg of Guns N’ Roses Chinese Democracy tour alongside countryman Sebastian Bach (ex-Skid Row) followed by a support tour with Clutch and select headline shows in the US. Add to this a brisk-selling Canadian headline tour announced prior to the official May release of new album Below The Belt and the rock trio seem to finally be on their way to getting the credit they deserve at home. Continue Reading
Just a brief update on what’s been floating my Canadian-made boat as of late, to be applauded or dismissed by anyone taking the time to read this. But, since I don’t generally write about crap unless conned into doing so or I feel the need to make fun of somebody (myself included; see Retro Fit) chances are pretty good my opinions are actually of worth (says the diva… 😉 ).
First off, the new self-titled Annihilator record is a killer. Guitarist / founder Jeff Waters shreds up a storm and nobody can take away Dave Padden’s rightful position as the band’s singer. It’s a grower though, and it wasn’t until the fourth or fifth time through that I actually began hearing this album for the shredfest it is. Very ugly and mean just like the cover art, but that’s a good thing. As much as I like the previous record, Metal, I have to admit there’s an energy level and a lack of polish on the new one that makes it sit better between my ears. Been playing the hell out of it much the same way I did when Carnival Diablo came out all those year ago.
I recently spoke to Waters about the album; the interview will be online soon. Check out the album details here. Release date is May 17th… Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
I recently caught up with Danko Jones to discuss his new album, Below The Belt, and because he and I both call Toronto home conversation invariably turned to Canadian metal – past and present – and growing up on the local scene back in the day. One topic of discussion was vocalist Sebastian Bach, easily the loudest personality of that era. Baz was also the man that put Skid Row on the map back in 1989 and took the band’s voice, face and fame with him when he got the boot in 1996. Danko, an admitted Bach fan, toured with him on the January 2010 Canadian leg of the current Guns N’ Roses tour, an experience he would be only too happy to repeat. He looks back on sharing the road with his fellow former Willowdale native… ironically, the same part of town where I grew up. It’s a small world.
Danko: “Growing up in Toronto and going to shows, my biggest goal was to play the Concert Hall because that where all the shows I went to were. That level of band to me was ‘You made it!’ If you could get on a tour and be the first of three bands on a night, you were in. I remember seeing Testament, Savatage and Nuclear Assault there; Nuclear Assault were first up and for me it was like ‘Aw man, they made it!’. So sometimes when we get on those tours where we’re first of three I have to remind myself that that’s what I wanted (laughs).”