Danko Jones (CA)

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“It’s easy to write rock songs.”

Who would know better than Canadian enfant terrible Danko Jones? Said and done! In the middle of the worst pandemic of modern times, the hard rockin‘ Toronto outfit named after its eloquent leader is releasing its tenth studio album “Power Trio”. Nomen est omen. But the significant title not only sums up the line of approach of the eleven new cuts presented here, the album also celebrates the 25th year anniversary of this uncompromising band.

A quarter of a century without attaching importance to trends and fashions, very much in the glorious tradition of Motörhead and AC/DC. Danko Jones are something of a registered trademark, their style and sound almost immediately recognizable. 2021 should been a year of festivities for them, but now everything is completely different. With Covid-19 putting all activities on hold, how does a live band like Danko Jones react when its natural habitat, the stages of this world, are not available anymore?

 “It is quite a challenge,” reflects band leader Danko Jones. “We’d been on tour until February 2020, had written a couple of songs, but then it all stopped. Instead of jammin’ in the rehearsal room, putting the new songs together like we always do, there had to be a new approach. That was not easy in the beginning, I can tell you.” But technology helped a lot: the demo version of 'Blue Jean Denim Jumpsuit', completely done during lockdown, was so impressive that Danko “didn’t have any worries about doing the whole album that way.” Of course, it took longer than it used to, but Danko Jones are far from being a band that needs four years to find the right drum sound. “We are definitely no studio band, we belong on the stage.” The Canadian frankly admits that he isn’t fond of the latest technology, but “our bass player JC (aka John Calabrese) has supplied me with equipment so I was able to record my guitar parts at home.” Although this took longer than pre-Corona, he said it was a luxury to have more time on his hands.

Same thing with the lyrics: you’d be forgiven for assuming there wouldn’t be any great inspirational moments due to the quarantine. But way off the mark! “Sitting at home, doing nothing gives you a totally different perspective on things around you. Tracks like 'I Want Out', 'Let’s Rock Together' and 'Start The Show' are inspired by the lockdown and are self-explanatory. But 'Raise Some Hell' for example refers to the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests by the Black Lives Matter movement in North America.” You’d expect the song 'Start The Show' to be the album opener, but “'I Want Out' is such an explosive track, it had to be the first one.” Having switched the songs around, they both make a beautiful frame and are undeniably brilliant. The album title “Power Trio” nails it, too: in contrast to the distressing search for the predecessor album “A Rock Supreme” (2019, everybody agreed right on the spot: “Everything should be simpler as we are on our tenth record, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the band; even the cover is very simple. It all makes sense to me.”

Though “Power Trio” was made under turbulent conditions, it is once again a furious effort courtesy of one the strongest household names on the international rock circuit. Once again, Danko Jones have delivered eleven tunes in almost 40 minutes, showing that simple things can lift the mood even in difficult times.

The explosive opener 'I Want Out' sums up the feelings that everybody has at the moment, the up tempo rocker 'Good Lookin' deals with one of Danko’s favourite topics: women. 'Saturday', an ironic play on Elton John’s 'Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)', may come as something of a surprise. And there’s a future classic with the catchy single 'Ship Of Lies', and the straight rockin’ 'Raise Some Hell' will also see its live debut in the hopefully not so distant future. 'Blue Jean Denim Jumpsuit' also describes Danko’s fascination with the female sex, whereas 'Get To You' is simply about self-determination. “I use most of my lyrics to motivate myself. It is always fun to shout out what you think.” On the other hand, if you listen to lyrics like 'Dangerous Kiss' (based on Danko’s admiration for the early Kiss sound, he joined the Kiss Army when he was six) and other previous lyrics, you could get the impression that Mr. Jones does have a problem with relationships. “That is not true at all,” he chuckles. “I’ve had bad experiences like everyone else, but getting older makes you a little bit calmer. I also have to say that especially the relationship tunes are those that get the most reactions from the crowd. Yes, they are a good therapy, but also way cheaper.” One of Danko’s personal faves on the album is 'Let’s Rock Together', again self-explanatory. 'Flaunt It' was written before the pandemic hit, a typical Danko Jones rocker, performed with the infamous swagger we all know and love. Last, but not least, there’s 'Let’s Start The Show', not only the longest tune on the record, but also the only one featuring a guest appearance: The shredding guitar solo was contributed by one of Danko’s dearest friends, Phil Campbell of Motörhead. “We are good pals. Motörhead were one of the greatest power trios of all time, so that fits perfectly with the theme of the album.”

Which is number 10 in the band’s astonishing catalog. Number 10 in 25 years. Of course, Danko would never have guessed he would be in the business so long and so successfully. “We came from the so-called garage rock scene, which is very vibrant and performance was the main thing. When groups like our brother band The New Bomb Turks got signed by Epitaph, it was a point of departure. When we started to attract a following during the early days, all those guys from various labels came up to us and tried to talk us into things we didn’t want to do, told us how we had to sound and dress and perform. But those weren’t tie-wearing executives from major labels; they came from the companies that brought out our favourite bands. I was really insecure at the end of the last century; it took me nearly two years to get away from this. JC once came up to me and made me feel confident again so that I was able to write great songs. Since then I haven’t let anyone tell me what to do, we do our own thing, no matter what!

Danko Jones are Danko Jones: Some songs sound like garage rock, others like punk, some have classic rock elements in them. Take it or leave it!” This great combination helped the band attract a great cult following, especially in Europe. Danko Jones played their first ever gig abroad Sweden in 2001, followed by an equally remarkable appearance in Germany where things started not so brilliantly. “Our first German gig took place at the Underground club in Cologne in 2001 when they still had the Deutschmark over there. Only one guy appeared, wearing a Dwarves shirt. When we sold out that club later on, it felt like a victory. And since we came back supporting the Backyard Babies, we’ve never looked back.” Danko Jones have played on six out of seven continents over the past 25 years, they have rocked every famous festival, blasting out the tunes we all love. The man himself has made friends with so many musicians from all kinds of different genres, he still can’t believe he had a drink (or more?) with Lemmy and talked intensively to Billy F. Gibbons from ZZ Top. The artist known as Danko Jones is a trademark in his own right, he is a Jack off all trades, having performed a spoken word gig at Wacken (2012), he likes to write for magazines, has published a book (with Duff McKagan contributing the foreword) and he is famous for his popular podcasts. Could that be a second career maybe? Being on stage, with just a mic? “I feel confident speaking in public, that’s right, there’s no stage fright. But I’m not quite sure if I’d feel comfortable without a guitar. I know I can handle an audience. But without music there would be something missing. I am not a born comedian.“ And because writing rock songs is easy for him, we’d all like him to please continue to do so.

Joerg Staude (Rock Hard Germany/Classic Rock Germany)







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