Danko Jones Talks New Album, Current State of Rock ‘n’ Roll + Importance of Clean Underwear
Vocalist and guitarist Danko Jones and his eponymous band just wrapped up a successful U.S. tour with Volbeat in support their latest album ‘Rock and Roll is Black and Blue.’ The Canadian outfit is now set to hit Europe for an extensive run of tour dates.
Loudwire caught up with the frontman during his band’s recent New York City stop at Best Buy Theater (check out our recap + photo gallery here). Jones spoke candidly on touring and some of his favorite tracks off the new album. He also talked about expressing his opinions through spoken word and the importance of having clean underwear while being on the road.
How has the experience of touring with Volbeat been?
It’s been great, they’ve been really cool with us, really helpful and friendly and this is a tour that was supposed to happen three years ago in Europe. They asked us to tour with them three years ago and we just had our own tour booked and we couldn’t do it, things got in the way – not between the two bands, just other people kind of getting in the middle of the two bands.
Then finally last year at the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany, I was lecturing there on Kiss, and Volbeat was headlining one of the day and I met up with [frontman] Michael [Poulsen] for breakfast and dinner and we talked about touring together. I said, “Well you know we were supposed to tour together a few years ago, why don’t we make that happen?” and he said, “Well, 2013’s America, so maybe we can do it then” and to his word, which is a very rare thing in the music biz, he kept his word and we’re here.
What is one band you would love to tour with that you haven’t yet and why?
Sure, how many bands are out there – I mean Metallica, AC/DC, Kiss, these are obvious ones. There’s a ton of other ones but we do fairly well, we’ve been touring enough, for a long time, those are the bands we would really love to tour with. I mean I would love to tour with some of my friends’ bands, that would make for a fun tour, as well.
We’ve done enough touring with all kinds of levels and popularity of bands that when you tour as long as we do, the big tours are exciting and let’s be honest it’s easy because you’re in good venues with catering and dressing rooms are great. The amenities are all there for you and when you tour in the clubs as long as we do, then you do an arena tour or a nice arena tour, you feel the difference.
So to you what exactly makes rock and roll black and blue?
Well ‘Rock and Roll Is Black and Blue,’ the title, comes from an old title we had from year one of our band. We’ve been around for 17 years, so this is going back to 1996 – we were going to put out the first whatever it was, 7-inch or EP or something, and call that ‘Rock and Roll Is Black and Blue’ but there was a band at the time from Toronto that put out a 7 inch ‘Real Rock and Roll Tonight’ and they were called the Deadly Snakes. We thought that title name was too similar so we stored it away and then we brought it back for this album and no more poignant is it than today.
I think rock and roll as a genre is underground now, there’s Metallica for metal, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, Beyonce but when it comes to rock and roll there isn’t a band or person that even comes close to that popularity – there’s Jack White and Airbourne and Wolfmother and there’s Rival Sons, Volbeat are one of them but none of those bands have the same popularity as Metallica or Lady Gaga. So even though rock and roll is still around, it’s a much maligned genre because it just doesn’t hold the amount of popularity of the cache that it once did.
What would you say is one of your favorite tracks on this new album and why?
Well I’m attached to all of them. I like ‘I Believed In God’ because we incorporated a church element and I was able to do a little preacher intro and there’s gospel singers on their and an organ, never had that before. I like the song ‘Legs’ because it’s lighthearted and it’s got this great sing along to it, I like ‘Always Away’ for personal reasons, the lyric content on it. I like ‘Terrified’ because it rocks really hard, I really like that song because I can detach myself as a listener and still be able to appreciate it.
I like ‘You Wear Me Down’ because for a band like us that started in the ‘90s garage rock scene where playing primitively and lo-fi was the name of the game, for us 17 years later do our best imitation of Led Zeppelin, which is arguably a musicians’ type band – they were all studio guys, for us to even attempt to do our take on Zeppelin coming from where we come from, I thought that was a feather in the cap so to speak.
Any more plans for spoken word material or anything else coming up both musical or non-musical?
I did a spoken word album in 2004 and since then I hadn’t done any spoken work until last August like I was saying before, two days of lectures on Kiss at Wacken Open Air, much like a university professor. I had a bow tie, they provided a podium and projection screen and that’s why I agreed to do it, if they met my stipulations I’d do it.
The reason there’s an eight year lag is because I really didn’t want to [attempt to match] Henry Rollins and Jello Biafra. They’ve been doing it for 20 or 30 years now and they’re the best at doing it … There’s other guys getting involved now like Scott Ian, Marky Ramone did something, but nowhere to the point where Henry and Jello have a string of albums that have followed them.
What is one thing you must have on tour with you? No electronics.
Well I guess it’s my stage clothes or else I wouldn’t be able to play – well I could play without them. What do I really need? I mean clean underwear is a definite must. [Laughs] You find out very fast that clean underwear is very important. When you’re on tour you do find out just how much you take everything for granted at home on a daily basis. You’re left to fend for yourself, everyday you’re in a new city, new place, new club – the shower was amazing last night, not so much tonight. That’s how it is when you’re on tour but if you have a clean pair of underwear, you can handle just about anything.
Check Out the Video for Danko Jones ‘Just A Beautiful Day’
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