There are a few hip folks out there that know this, but for those unaware, Danko Jones is the king of rock. It’s true. He has been for quite some time. Since his emergence in the club scene in Toronto in the mid ’90s, Danko, bassist “JC” John Calabrese and whoever's been playing drums for them (there have been six) have been at least one constant in the world of rock we can count on as most of the industry has deteriorated over the years.
Danko Jones is the name of the man and the band. He is one part David Lee Roth, one part Gene Simmons, one part Angus Young, one part Jimi Hendrix mixed with the heart, passion and chest pounding of Henry Rollins. Danko is everything we love about the best rock music. It’s badass, careless, loud, and in your face. Girls who see him live want to look for him after the show while their boyfriends are at the merchandise table buying all of his records. His music is meat and potatoes. It’s cut and dry. Get that friggin’ synth out of here! Three guys, black buttoned-up dress shirts/black dress pants; no ties, and just four-on-the-floor rock n’ roll music.
His record label based in Sweden has kept Danko mostly working overseas. And the work is good. The name he’s established over there and his success rivals a lot of big bands here in the states. He headlines sold-out shows and plays all the huge festivals. You won’t see him sitting on a stool with an acoustic guitar, but they have opened for the Rolling Stones, Guns 'n’ Roses and have toured with Motorhead. “Rock” might not be succeeding these days as a genre, but Danko Jones the rock band is doing just fine, and we’re lucky because of it.
On the eve of his eighth studio album release, Wild Cat (out on March 3 on Bad Taste Records), I caught up with Danko on the phone for a chat. I haven’t talked to him in a few years so we had a lot to catch up on. Unfortunately, you know I wouldn't be able to fit everything here. So, here’s a ridiculously brief version of the chat that can be heard in its entirety on the radio with me Sunday night on 94.3 WCYY Spinout (7-10 p.m.).
Curdo: I’ve been lucky to have known you, listened to and supported your music for 15 years now. I’ve followed it all along the way, seen you half a dozen times live and I’ve finally realized the word the best describes you guys is consistency. Like AC/DC and Motorhead, bands you admire and are influenced by, your band is consistent in the best way possible. You’re not out to make the next Dark Side of the Moon or OK Computer. You are making great rock music every time. You are a success story my friend, and the consistency continues with the new album, Wild Cat.
Jones: On this album, we tried a few new things, but new to us only within the realm of rock, nothing outside that realm. We’re not going to drag anyone through some experimental phase of ours and expect people to still hang on. I like bands who stick to the script and know who they are, who are consistent and reliable. I love to be one of those kinds of bands. One of the hardest things for a band to achieve is a signature sound and that’s the thing we’ve been trying to do all this time. We don’t want to draw outside of the box. People don’t think that’s creative or artistic or challenging, but I think it’s more challenging. I find it more artistic to refashion the same four chords and make it sound fresh without retreading.
Curdo: One thing I think is great about you is that you absorb everything. You’re still a passionate fan of music and everything about it. You’re observant. You drink it all in and you process what’s what, what’s up, and what’s going on. I absorb as well and I know I’m connected, but I also feel that no one really knows what’s going on in the music world in 2017. So many non-stop changes, so much technology affecting it all. Loaded question here, but do you have a better read on things? Do you even care? What’s your take on rock music today with how things are going in sales, on radio, on stage, etc.?
Jones: Well first of all … I don’t (care). Second of all, I tried to tackle this similar topic on my podcast recently. I didn’t have a guest. I focused on ten new rock bands I think people should hear. I went that route to help push the scene. I get asked a lot lately, “what’s the status of rock? Everyone’s dying, what’s going on? What’s the future?” The truth is for the last twenty years, it hasn’t been that popular. You still have Guns 'n’ Roses and AC/DC headlining shows, but their fan base has already been laid out. The reason why no new rock bands are succeeding is because the music wasn’t as popular as it was before. There’s no “scene.” There is for metal and EDM and indie rock and punk. I view rock in 2017 as going the way of jazz; a once popular form of music that’s not as popular anymore that’s suddenly become outsider music. To me, as a music fan, that appeals to me very much! I like that kind of designation. Unfortunately, I don’t believe rock’ n’ roll will be as big as it once was. I make my living playing in a rock band, and I’m ok with that. I don’t want everyone to like it.
Visit dankojones.com, facebook.com/dankojones and check out “The Official Danko Jones Podcast."