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Danko Jones

We schijven 2de Pinksterdag 2003. Terwijl het hele land geniet van zijn vrije dag is ondergetekende de sjaak en mag van 10 tot 4 gaan werken. Om de tijd wat te doden, besluit ik op internet het live verslag van Pinkpop 2003 te gaan streamen. De meeste bands doen me helemaal niks maar mijn aandacht wordt gegrepen door een Canadees bandje genaamd Danko Jones. Wat een power, wat een energie en wat een woede straalt die man uit. Ik was verkocht en eind augustus kon ik, nadat ik al een exemplaar van Danko's nieuwe album “We Sweat Blood” had ontvangen, in het Amsterdamse Hard Rock Cafe Mr. Danko Jones himself aan de tand voelen. Ik besloot geen vragen voor te bereiden maar Danko zelf zijn verhaal te laten doen en te zien waar het schip zou stranden..

Door: Michiel B. | Archiveer onder

Hi Danko. I guess for me as well as many other people seeing your Pinkpop performance was their very first aquaintance with you and your band. Do you think your popularity here has increased ever since?

Yeah, I surely think so. It has been an increasing populartity every time we come back here. We played the Metropolis (Rotterdam) festival back in 2001 as relatively unknownes and last year we played Lowlands and Pukkelpop (Belgium) and this year we got to play Pinkpop. Everybody was saying that Pinkpop is the biggest festival in The Netherlands and so we noticed a gradual increase.

Your previous album “Born A Lion” must have been a step upwards to what your status over here is becoming now I guess. Your first few albums weren't distributed that much over here..

We only have a compilation out called “I'm Alive And On Fire” which was basically a compilation of demos that were sent to record companies which they rejected and b-sides and stuff that we had never released before. We thought they were good so we put them out anyway and sometimes they even outsold the labels' domectic artists. So we consider “Born A Lion” our real debut full-length album where we went into the studio with a certain ammount of songs to put out.

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How did you come with the title of “We Sweat Blood” actually?

Last year I lost my voice on the tour with 3 or 4 more shows left to do. And we had to cancel a show and I was wondering why this didn't happen much sooner. We had been on tour for like 6 months. And when it happened I thought yeah man, we sweat blood on this tour and that's how we came up with that line being the title for the new record. It's a reference to the band's efforts and the way we tour and how we're always working.

And before “We Sweat Blood” is released a single “I Want You” (see the review of this one in our previous issue – MB) containing 2 tracks that are not on the album. Why is that?

We recorded 15 songs in the studio and we used 12 songs to put on the album and the other 3 we could use for stuff like singles and the Japanese releases.

And how do you compare your last 2 albums to one another?

The difference between “Born A Lion” and “We Sweat Blood” is that “We Sweat Blood” is more aggressive and the songs are more to the point. And also the in your face attitude converges more to metal. For example take Entombed. They are probably my favourite still active metal band. Bands like Slayer and Metallica are living on the past with “Reign In Blood” and “Master Of Puppets”. I think Entombed are still in the process of making their “Master Of Puppets” or “Reign In Blood” in the near future. Any Entombed album is a pure metal album but their attitude is still rock. I still haven't seen them live because every time they come to Canada we are on tour. But compared to Entombed we are undeniable a rock band. No metal, no punk, just rock. But we do have that metal attitude and metal to me is one of my biggest influences. What I buy now is metal. I mean I burn stuff and I download stuff but when I have to spend my money on something it's metal. The last records I bought were “Inferno” by Entombed and “As The Palaces Burn” by Lamb Of God. And also Ron Hell (Suburban) just gave me the last Anthrax album so I'm very curious about that because it was supposed to be their comeback.

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Compared to the Pinkpop show I saw which was rather raw and heavy and then I first heard “We Sweat Blood” and that sounded so clean! Don't you think the record could or should have been a little rougher?

No, that's just the way how we all wanted it. I like it raw but then on stage. Our earlier stuf was thrashier and messy and so we already did that already..

At your show on the Pinkpop festival you paid a tribute to some metal icons who have passed away like Paul Baloff (Exodus), Rhandy Rhoades, Cliff Burton (Metallica). Why did you especially pay tribute to these metal musicians and not for instance people like Jim Morrisson or John Lennon?

I named these people because they do mean something to me. We might not play metal but that's where I come from. I've never known who Paul Baloff was but I loved “Bonded By Blood”. So when I heard he died I was moved eventhough he wasn't in Exodus for a long time anymore. And what can you say about Rhandy Rhoades. He's Ozzy's guitarist! And Cliff Burton to me is the soul of Metallica. They were my favourite band growing up. No matter what has happened since he passed away, it will never be the same as it was when he was there. Back then I remember he was outragious looking. I dug the way he did things. Cliff Burton was probably one of the coolest people in metal. And the fact that he passed away made him an icon. And people who got to know Metallica from the Load album or even St. Anger should realize that Metallica would have been nowhere without Cliff Burton. I always say Cliff Burton's name because I don't want him to be forgotten. I don't think people will forget Stevie Ray Vaughan or John Lee Hooker or Joey Ramone that soon but Cliff Burton has to be remembered.

Also the Danko Jones logo reminds me of a late eighties thrash metal logo. Was it your intension to make it look like that?

The guy who designed the album cover, Henrik Walls, also designed the last 2 Hellacopters covers and he designed “Born A Lion” to who created that logo. He listened to the record and that's what he came up with. And I think it's cool. If it seems metal to you then that's cool and I rather prefer that then like some lousy logo (Danko here points at a silly font type of the bar's menu). You actually are the first one to mention that but since you have a metal approach to it. And Henrik exactly knew what he wanted.

You just mentioned Entombed. Just like your record company Bad Taste Records they are from Sweden. How does a Canadian guy like you end up in Sweden?

Sweden has a very good metal and music scene in general. Bad Taste were a punkrock label and they had a band, Triggerhappy, from Toronto where we're from. And Triggerhappy they were a skate punk band. And it turned out that their lead singer Al Nolan was a big fan of ours and he kept pushing us with Bad Taste Records. That was unbelievable. I know who this guy was because he has a big reputation in Canada but I didn't know him personally. I had no idea who Bad Taste was but once we got over here after playing for 5 years in Canada where no understood us. Now they do because they know who the White Stripes and The Hives are. Compared to the ammount of time it took us in Canada and here in Europe it was very quick we got known here.

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Was this also due to the label's distribution or did just the music sell itself?

When we were still in Canada we were still independent. So now we surely have a much better distribution. But it's also due to the European fans who really dig rock music. You will never ever see in Canada what I see when we play here. When I'm on stage on a festival I look out and I'll see all kinds of metal shirts from Danzig, Gluecifer, Morbid Angel to Iced Earth. In Canada you will never see people wear these shirts at a show of hours. Metalheads are real dedicated music lovers.

Then have you never thought of moving to Europe?

O yeah! But there are many more reasons. Especially for the ammount of many beautiful women here. Like the women in Holland are spectacular! You might say no but..

Yeah right. And tomorrow you'll be in Germany for instance and you'll probably say the same about their women...

Well actually German women are very beautiful too. Not many people realise that but it's true. But my favourite place for women is Sweden. Sweden is like a big modelling convention and they're all blond! And in Norway too. In Holland everyone rides bikes so they're all in shape and stuff. And where we're from they all take the fucking bus and have the “M” of McDonalds nearly printed on their bodies. And then you come over here and it's awesome!

Now that we're talking about women one thing I already noticed that the women are one of the main subjects in your lyrics. What I tend to hear in your lyrics on the “Born A Lion” album is that they seem to be sort of against women like the fabulous line “If you wanna know who to play the blues, get yourself a woman”. And on the new album it seems they have been replaced for more like love songs..

There's a lot of angry songs on the new record like “Go To Hell” and “To The Cross” I wanna nail someone to the fucking cross. Grr! But “Born A Lion” was written when I was going through some relationships that were ending. And I can only sing what I go through. I can't make shit up. And since that time until now I've been on the road. And the new album is angry because of all the troubles we had with the music industry which was very frustrating and also the album is happy because there are no girltroubles anymore now. Just whatever happens happens. So this is more a celebration to the girls. And when you play rock&roll we're not gonna sing about the war in Iraq or the envioronment. It would sound stupid over the riffs and the music we play. Polical lyrics don't fit our music. So that's why we sing about things that really moves us. And what really moves me is when I see a hot girl.

So when you are on stage you imagine yourself some beautiful women in the front row..

Well it's nice if you look out to a crowd and you see a vey hot girl in the front row who is looking at you for 45 minutes or an hour. And basically then you play fucking harder for sure. And the subjects that make me go wild every night are girls and wanting to kill someone. So there's a fine line between love and hate.

And what about the song “Caramel City” on “Born A Lion”?

“Caramel City” is a reference to George Clinton's album “Chocolate City”. The first line in the song goes “Washington DC is pretty but it ain't my city.” And Chocolate City is Washington DC. We're from Toronto and Toronto is the most multi-cultural city in the world for a fact. So I named Toronto “Caramel City”. You can go on a bus and from the front of the bus to the back of the bus you can hear people speak Jamaican, Italian, Chinese, Portuguese, English and any other language you name it to me. And that is comfortable to me. You see that in many other cities but it is never as diverse as it is in Toronto.

It makes you feel comfortable. That's quite a difference to the US since the attacks on 9/11..

Yes but America has always been a very racist segregated society. We're from Canada! So Canada is not part of America. We're on the outside looking into America. And what we see, we don't like and what we don't like, we don't do. But in Toronto it's quite surprising that with this diversity everybody can get along. And when some shooting incident happens the news papers go crazy: “Look out! It's getting like America!” (laughs). As much as I bash Canada for it's musical culture, I like Canada as a country to live. And when we travel and people hear us talk they think we're Americans. And when I told them we're Canadians their whole faces changed. We don't think our country is the best country in the world. America is probably one of the worst countries to live in where it's citizens are fooled on a minute by minute basis. And instead of rebellion against it they support it. And everytime when I see an American abroad they think they own the place. You know what? If you think your country is the best country in the world then stay there and let the rest of the world have a good time between each other. That's how I see it man!

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Let's change the subject. You recently released a split 10” record “Ritual Of The Savage” with our fellow Dutchmen of Peter Pan Speedrock and Gluecifer. Did you already meet our beer rockers?

Yeah, we met them a couple of time. The last time was at the Pinkpop festival where they played the day before us. And we already met Gluecifer...

To be honest Peter Pan Speedrock for me was, and I think for many other Dutch people, the link to your kind of music. Could you say Peter Pan Speedrock over here has cleared the path for you?

In Holland surely. Over here in Europe there have been many other bands doing this which eventually was good for us.

A new record is coming out. Are you going on a tour to promote it?

Yes we are. We'll probably be in Holland in December. It'll be a 7 week tour and we will be supported by a totally freaked Japanese band called Electric Eelshock whose drummer playes naked. I saw them once and they're pretty good..

And how do you see the future of you and the band?

I try not to look far into the future. I like to live now or in the immediate future. We're going home now and play some shows in America and Canada in September. “Born A Lion” comes out there the first week of September so we're actually we're an album behind there. And then in November and December we're on tour here in Europe for 2 months. I don't want to think about a future with wife and kids because it's too scary. Let's just live for the moment and play the show tonight.

And how do you keep up with all that touring? Do you work out a lot or no drugs and alcohol?

I don't do any of that. I wanna be known as a band who worked the hardest. I guess a would never die on stage. I wanna stick around and see what happens. I wanna be there when the Danko Jones box set and the Danko Jones movie will be released. Actually when the record comes out it will contain a 10 minute documentary about the band on tour and a photo gallery and the single's video all on the cd as a Cdrom part. And also there plans of releasing a dvd in the future becaue we film every show. Maybe we should contact the Dutch broadcasting company for the Pinkpop footage..

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Well Danko, that'll be all for now. It was my pleasure to interview you without any questions prepared..

No questions prepared? Man, I'm impressed! We had a talk for 45 minutes! That's awesome. Then I'll see you on tour I guess..

That's a promise!

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