Danko Jones have been on the Hard Rock scene for over 20 years. This year they released their 8th studio album entitled Wild Cat, with hard hitting, in your face rock anthems.
We sat down with bassist John 'JC' Calabrese to talk about the new album, the band's accomplishments and what's next for Danko Jones.
What are some of the major changes in the industry that have changed how you market the band?
When we started off in the industry the internet was just taking off and I remember being one of the first bands in Toronto who had a website. So we've kind of seen that whole shift towards more tangible online music... that's immediate. When we started our website we didn't put any music on there but now with YouTube you are able to see a full concert. I feel like the industry has done a poor job of catching up with the medium. For example during the days of Napster, the music industry would keep trying to re-issue cds to compete and now there are platforms like Spotify. Spotify is big in Canada now but in Europe its a marker for booking bands. They look to see how many Spotify listeners you have.
What hasn't changed is the fact that at the end of the day you still have to be a good band. If you're terrible live and you can't hit the same notes that are in your recording everyone's going to know.
What was different in recording Wild Cat versus past albums?
Wild Cat is the first time we used the same personnel, being the same guys in the band, same studio and same producer. We went in with Eric Ratz who we were able to rekindle a working relationship with, that started years ago. We recorded the drums at Revolution Studios in Toronto and then to Vespa for mixing. So there is a bit of consistency, finally after 21 years -in the recording process. It was the first time we didn't have to think about going to a new studio and it helped not having to worry about that. When we worked with Eric on Fire Music we found that the recording process was fun, we weren't slaving away trying to make something. We were just going into the studio to enjoy ourselves and create something that we all like, so we did that again on Wild Cat and it shows as you can feel the energy... there's no staleness there. It was also great to be back in Toronto, which is our hometown.
What were your major influences on Wild Cat?
You get what you get with the band. It’s a rock record, for this record we went with some songs where we wear our influences on our sleeves. “You Are My Woman” has a Thin Lizzy vibe, then with Wild Cat there is a Van Halen kind of sound to it and there are some Misfits and Motorhead influences on the album as well. So far the response has been really good especially in Germany, Sweden and the Scandinavian countries.
A lot of your touring time is spent in Europe, why is that?
The band tends to have a big presence in Europe, we first went there because the continent was big and it was easier to get from country to country versus playing in Canada where the drive alone from Toronto to Thunder Bay is 15 hours. Europe welcomed us and was the first place that a label signed us. It's funny because people in Canada kept telling us that we would never do well in Europe and we went there partly out of stubbornness and also because we believed in what we were doing. And it's paid off, we've now been able to tour along side bands that we looked up to.
They also have a bigger outdoor music festival scene. And the festivals are prone to accepting a variety of music and can feature a band like Scream [American Punk band] and also Kreator [German Thrash Metal]. Where as here you have the heavy music festival and the indie music festival and every band is slotted into the type of genre that they play. I prefer the festival setup in Europe I can go listen to Drum and Bass and then go watch Metal bands. One festival I went and watched Lykki Li and then Slayer on the next stage. And its all great music.
Has your live show changed at all?
We're just playing a lot of new songs. There’s no gimmicks, it’s just Rock ‘n’ Roll. There are no inflatable dolls or pyro (laughs), we're not that kind of a band we just feed off of the audience that shows up.
Favourite Toronto concert experience (your own and one you have attended)?
Favourite Toronto concert was watching the Beastie Boys at the Varsity during the Check Your Head tour. It was crazy, when they came on stage the whole crowd was just jumping up and down. The Henry Rollins Band actually opened for them and he was incredible.
One of my favourite memories of our shows in Toronto was opening for The Rolling Stones at the Palais Royale. It was a memorable concert to be a part of. [Check out an interview on Chart with Danko Jones just after that show]
What's up next for the band and what are some milestones you want to hit?
The rest of the summer we are on the festival run in Europe. In October we may be back in Canada for a few shows, before going back to Europe in November and December. But career wise we just want to win a Juno, a Grammy and do an East Coast Canada tour (laughs). Rich [drummer] is from the East Coast, Prince Edward Island to be exact, so we definitely want to do some shows out there. If anyone wants to book us... hint hint (laughs).