Danko Jones — the namesake front man of the Canadian hard rock power trio DANKO JONES — recently spoke with Mark Strigl of the "Talking Metal" podcast. The full conversation can be streamed below (interview starts at the 54:45 mark). A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the band's evolution:
Danko: "We started off in the mid-'90s as a garage-punk band, because there was a huge scene for that back then, but we found that scene stifling and really claustrophobic. We wanted to expand our sound, so we became a hard rock band in the traditional sense with bridges and choruses. We didn't care if we went into a good studio, because a lot of the aesthetic in garage punk is to keep it lo-fi and dirty, even though you can easily turn your music into really well-recorded material. [The latest DANKO JONES album] 'A Rock Supreme' pretty much carries on the tradition that we've always been — it's a rock band."
On writing lyrics:
Danko: "I labor over lyrics. The only times I've not labored over lyrics, I've eventually grown to hate them. I labor over them all the way to the last hour where I have to record them. I'm always kind of drafting — new drafts are made, even if it's to change a couple of words here, or even one word, all the way to the moment where I have to sing. It's a bit of a process, and it's a very internal one. I never share my process with anybody unless it's with the producer and we're in front of the microphones and the clock's going, tape's rolling kind of thing. For example, ['A Rock Supreme' producer] Garth [Richardson] would say, 'That's not really working there,' and then we'd have to figure it out on the spot. But for the most part, it's very laborious. I think simple is best, and simple can also be very hard to pull off. Over the years, I've gotten criticized for the simplicity, and sometimes people say it's pretty childish or adolescent lyric writing, but when I hear that, I realize they don't get a lot of the musical references that I'm taking those lyrics from. For example, [2017 song] 'She Likes It' is a direct take from 'I Like It' by Ike and Tina [Turner], including lines that were completely lifted, so 'She Likes It' is really Tina Turner liking it when she says 'I Like It'. It's a very simple lyric, but it's got so much meaning behind it. I don't expect people to be knowledgeable on Ike and Tina who listen to our album, but for me, as someone who has to sing it every night, I kind of like that back story. It gives the simple lyrics a little bit of meat behind it."
On Marty Friedman, whose 2014 album "Inferno" includes three songs featuring Jones on vocals:
Danko: "It started very innocently. Of course, I loved his stuff in MEGADETH, but more [so] CACOPHONY. When I would see the CACOPHONY ads in metal mags and they described it as a thrash metal symphony... It was a comment on I can't remember on what platform. They said, 'Did you know that Marty Friedman loves your stuff?' When I read a comment like that, I have to investigate. I found some sort of e-mail off a web site, and I cold-messaged Marty. I've done that before to other people with varying results or no results, but Marty replied back to me and we struck up an online friendship... We kept in touch, and then when 'Inferno' pre-production came along, he messaged me going, 'Hey, you want to write a song with me?' I go, 'Yeah, I'd love to'... I sat out my guitar, and I actually immediately came up with the basic chord structure for what became the main song off 'Inferno' called 'I Can't Relax'. That turned out so great, Marty asked me to sing on another song that he was doing for the album, so I sang with CHILDREN OF BODOM singer Alexi Laiho... Then I sang backups on another song off the deluxe edition."
On the upcoming MegaCruise:
Danko: "We've also done the Motörboat in the past, which was MOTÖRHEAD's cruise. That went pretty good. We're a really easy band to work with, whether it's technically — we're only three people; I play one overdrive pedal; we don't have a rack tom. We're really easy technically, musically, and when it comes to these hard, heavy metal-type cruises, we act as ear relief. Same with us being on a lot of metal festivals in Europe — we're kind of relief from all the death metal pummeling. The MegaCruise is turning out to be quite the cruise. I'm a fan of almost every single act that's been announced. I'm very excited about it."
On the music video for the band's recently released single "Dance Dance Dance":
Danko: "They're all real, professional dancers. They're actual trainers. One of the women is a choreographer of another dance troupe, and they're all from Stockholm. The video was shot in Sweden and it was directed by Amir Chamdin, who's done tons of other amazing videos. We've been wanting Amir to direct one of our videos for years, but we're in Canada, he's in Sweden, so how do we do this? Amir came up with this idea, and we ran with it — we trusted him, and sure enough, we all love it. It's one take, and it's three women doing [a] choreographed dance routine to our song. It shows them as very strong, athletic and talented dancers. They're not the [typical] rock n' roll [dancers] — they're not wearing miniskirts; they don't have a long cigarette with a poodle coming out of a limo. But we've never subscribed to that look for our band. We're a band that thrives on outside of the box when it comes to the conservative world of rock n' roll, because our roots are really in punk rock. We like to play within the format, but when it comes to visuals, this video, it truly does represent us in a way. I thought Amir really hit it out of the park. It's a very simple premise, a very simple video, but when you think about it, it's very hard to pull off. Those dancers had to not make one mistake."
"A Rock Supreme" will be released on April 26 via M-Theory Audio (U.S.), Rise Above (UK), Indica (Canada, AU, NZ) and AFM (rest of the world). The album was produced by Garth Richardson (RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS) and features cover artwork by Ulf Linden (GRAVEYARD, EUROPE).