Some guys never grow up -- and Danko Jones intends to be one of them.
Unlike artists who want to evolve and mature from album to album, the hard-driving Canadian rocker plans to sing power-chord odes to sex, parties and rock ’n’ roll as long as he can.
“I don’t want to grow up in this forum,” says the Toronto singer-guitarist from a rare day at home. “When bands grow up, they get bad. The thing I love about some of my favourite bands is that they never evolve. AC/DC and Motörhead and The Ramones and Slayer stick to their story. When they ask Angus Young about AC/DC’s new album, he says, ‘We don’t have a new album; we just have another album.’ That’s how I’d like to see our band.”
Others may not share his view — especially after hearing his power trio’s recently released sixth album Rock and Roll is Black and Blue. While anchored by the usual array of two-fisted guitar-driven rockers with titles like Legs and I Don’t Care, the disc also showcases Jones’ poppier, more melodic side on numbers like Just a Beautiful Day, In Your Arms and Always Away. In keeping with the latter, the overdriven Jones is already gearing up for another busy year — along with recording and near-constant touring (especially in Europe and Scandinavia), he pens an online column and hosts a podcast, while the band is still promoting their recent DVD doc Bring on the Mountain and the just-published oral history Too Much Trouble. But he still made time to chat about facing the music, sticking to his guns and why he won’t reveal how grown up he really is.
Let’s start with that album title. It does seem like your brand of hard rock has taken a beating lately.
That’s exactly what it means. It’s a title we came up with in like, Year 1 of our band way back when. We never had a chance to use it until now, but it still seems appropriate. Hard rock isn’t even the fifth most popular genre of music these days. Pop, electronica, rap, country, even metal is even bigger than rock ’n’ roll. And each one has its own face, like Jay-Z or Lady Gaga or Metallica or Skrillex or whoever the country star is today.
Do you want to be the face of rock ’n’ roll?
S---, definitely. And I wanna be the face of a genre that’s bigger than Lady Gaga or Jay-Z. But everybody who puts music out in the public forum wants to be that. If they say they don’t — if they say they’re happy with their little corner — they’re lying.
Do you feel a sense of duty to defend rock?
Well, it’s really just the only kind of music I personally can play with confidence. Hard rock is the music I do best and which I know best. So I stick with it. It’s a hard go in Canada, for sure. You need to venture out of the country to stay afloat, unfortunately. But fortunately, there’s not just one other country that wants to hear it, there are dozens. So we are very busy, and Canada sometimes has to take a backseat. Over the years, we’ve paid for it — our profile in this country has simmered down quite a bit because we’re not in people’s faces.
While this album has its share of songs about sex, there seems to be more emotional depth in some of the lyrics.
Yeah, there’s a couple that are pretty personal. There’s one that’s really personal. But they’ve always been personal to a certain degree. I can’t really invest in lyrics if it doesn’t come from a real place or an experience or a moment. It has to be about something or some experience with somebody.
It also feels like you’re singing more this time, as opposed to screaming.
Oh yeah, I don’t deny that. It’s been a natural progression over the years. Part of it is a little more confidence on my part. I didn’t think we could really pull this hard rock s--- off if I wasn’t screaming. But now, I like singing. Even so, the melody and the singing and all that, I don’t view it as me growing up. I just view it as me getting more confident with my voice but not watering it down. I’m still all about balls with the songs. That was my main concern; does this song kick my ass? And if it does, then we proceed.
Still, this album does feel more mature. How old are you?
Um, I’m somewhere between 25 and 50.
Seriously, you’re going to play coy? OK, I’m going to say you’re 50.
Go for it. No, don’t do that. Look, it’s not like I’m embarrassed by it. I really just like to keep some things private. You can do the math. We’ve been around for 17 years and I didn’t start the band when I was 15. You can look at me and try to guess my age. That’s the thing; people can’t. Nobody can. I always have people talking down to me even though they’re younger than me. And when they find out I’m as old as I am, they cannot believe it. So I’m going to work that.
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