Danko Jones: Going Global Is Worth The Risk

Danko Jones has no patience for bands who complain that they can’t find gigs. Since launching his punk-rock trio in 1996, Toronto-native Jones understands a simple work ethic of getting out there and playing wherever the opportunity presents itself.

On the verge of releasing the band’s seventh studio record `Fire Music’ on Canadian indie New Damage Records and Bad Taste Records in Europe, Jones (vocals/lead guitar) , bassist John Calabrese and new drummer Chuck Knox are about to head off to Helsinki Finland for a radio station cruise before fitting in a few German dates before returning to Canada for a brief club tour.

“Who are these people who complain about not finding gigs”, retorts Jones somewhat indignantly when asked how Danko Jones managed to forge such a strong European presence. “They are either lazy or they’re lacking a positive work ethic.  We were touring Canada and North East United States before we even had a record released. Then as soon as our first record was released, `Born A Lion’ (2002) we were off to Europe, playing the festival circuit and we’ve been going over there ever since.”

“I’m kinda getting sick and tired of bands over here asking why us and not them,” said Jones continuing his tirade. “We went over there, we made the effort to forge connections, the kids over there liked our performances, the bought concert tickets and records and the promoters invited us back”.

“The mistake a lot of bands make is that they see Europe as one country when it’s actually like 50 countries. They are all different territories,” explained Jones. “We made a name for ourselves on the festival circuit. We played all the big festivals, Denmark’s `Roskilde’, Sweden’s Hultsfred, Pukkelpop in Belgium plus a number of festivals in Germany and Holland. It wasn’t always the main stage but we went on, won people over and got invited back.”[quote]I know that punk rock isn’t the most commercially popular music but that’s what we play because that’s all we know how to play[/quote]

Jones will be the first to admit that his trio’s brand of garage, indie rock isn’t the most commercially acceptable form of music. Yet over the seven studio albums and four compilation releases which have garnered four Juno Award nominations, Danko Jones have forged a solid and steady fan base both in North America and Europe. They’ve had some exposure with major Canadian labels including Universal and Montreal-based indie label, Aquarius, have toured Canada opening for the likes of Nickelback (in 2006), Guns N Roses and Sebastian Bach and earned the distinction of serving as the opening act for the Rolling Stones when they opened their “40 Licks” tour at Toronto’s Palais Royale August 16th 2002.

The band’s latest opus “Fire Music”, produced by Eric Ratz (Billy Talent, Monster Truck, Metric) is synonymous with the band’s frenetic, musical profile with the likes of “The Twisting Knife”,  “Gonna Be A Fight Tonight” (selected as the official track for the WWE’s 2015 Royal Rumble  event) and “Body Bags” ramping up the tempo. Yet Jones can intensify the melody with mid-tempo numbers like “I Will Break Your Heart” and “Do You Wanna Rock”connects with a catchy lyrical hook.

“I know that punk rock isn’t the most commercially popular music but that’s what we play because that’s all we know how to play,” confesses Jones. “It’s not like we are fighting the good fight or anything. What it boils down to is that this is what we are and this is what we do.”

For bands contemplating taking a shot at touring in Europe, Jones’s simple advice is to go for it. “Some people get scared off by the cost of plane fares and other expenses. But whether it comes out of your pocket or the promoters, if you go over well on stage and sell tickets, all those costs will be absorbed by the money you make.”

By following this principle, Danko Jones have toured Australia and South Africa as well as having played all over Europe including a tour opening for Motorhead and dates in Hungary and Norway.

The band has also been featured in a DVD documentary; 2012’s “Bring On The Mountain” plus a featured book “Too Much Trouble. A Very Oral History Of Danko Jones (ECW Press) and Jones himself is an active journalist, penning columns for music magazines like Sweden’s “Close-Up”, Spain’s “Rock Zone” and Switzerland’s “Rock Star” magazine” as well as an occasional column for Canada’s “Huffington Post”. Jones is also a noted public speaker, operated his own syndicated radio show, The Magic World Of Rock plus a current Podcast, The Official Danko Jones ‘ Podcast in which he interviews his favourite artists.

Following Canadian tour dates in April, Danko Jones will be targeting future festival dates in Europe where the band’s new record release almost certainly guarantees them a marquee position at major concerts this summer.  “Canadian festivals are fine but they don’t remotely compare with the big European festivals,” explained Jones. “Get to play these events and you know you are getting somewhere.”

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