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|It is vivid testimony to the famed work ethic of Danko Jones that their idea of 'taking a break' is to temporarily halt their relentless touring in favour of an extra period of writing and pre-production for their next record. This time was well spent, as their fourth full-length album, Never Too Loud, is a work already being hailed as the best Danko disc yet.
After five years of gigging their guts out on five continents and 30 countries, the Toronto hard rock trio called a time out at the end of 2006. Securing the highly coveted services of ace Grammy-winning rock producer Nick Raskulinecz, (Rush, Foo Fighters, Coheed & Cambria, Stone Sour, Velvet Revolver) spurred the band into a feverish and fruitful writing period, prior to setting up shop with Nick in Los Angeles.
Photographs by Ron Boudreau"We talked with Nick about the record and where we wanted it to go back from last February," explains singer/guitarist/mainman Danko. "Those discussions really pointed to the direction of the writing, so when we went into the studio for a week of pre-production, there were only minor changes".
Raskulinecz's sonic input proved invaluable. "We really wanted to step it up sonically on this album, and Nick was the perfect guy for that," says Danko. "I'm a fan of a lot of the bands he has produced, so I knew we had shared views musically. It was just a matter of making sure we could get along as people. Turns out he is a real nice guy, cool and laid back, and that made the [two month long] session real easy."
It didnt hurt that Danko Jones recorded the new disc at Studio 606 in Los Angeles. Some fiendishly good rock has been spawned in the room; Never Too Loud can now be added to that impressive resume.
Danko Jones have never sounded better on disc than here. The fire and energy that has made them live favourites around the globe is captured intact here, while subtle production touches reveal themselves when you crank this up high. From the kick in the guts opening rock salvo of "Code Of The Road" (the first single) to the super-charged anthemic title track closer, Never Too Loud takes you on a joyride you just don't want to stop. The tight take no prisoners rhythm section of drummer Dan Cornelius and bassist JC (John Calabrese) provides the perfect foundation for Danko's signature sizzling guitar work and howling at the moon jugular-grabbing vocals. This is a power trio in the classic sense of the word.
Danko Jones have also upped the ante in their songwriting. They stick to the plot stylistically, but it's one with enough musical twists and turns to keep your interest level high. "We know who we are, and there is something to be said for bands that stick to the story," stresses Danko. "They're the ones who have survived - Motorhead, AC/DC, Slayer, The Ramones. Our story is hard rock, and we did encompass a little more of different styles of hard rock on this album. You won't find a song here where you go, 'ooh, this is a nice symphonic piano ballad.'"
There's a real melodic sweetness to "Take Me Home," but it still rocks, while stun guns are set on high for "Forest For The Trees." This Sabbath style 6 minute epic features vocal contributions from punk legend Pete Stahl (Wool, Scream, Goatsnake) and John Garcia of Kyuss (a good friend who has previously recorded and toured with Danko).
Lyrically, the eternal themes of lust, love and sex are again explored, as on "Let's Get Undressed" and the self-deprecating "Still In High School." "It wouldn't be a Danko Jones record without a few of those," says Danko. "I still have two eyes and a libido, and you want to talk or sing about a hot girl you just saw. Those songs will never go away." That's good news, as no-one does lascivious quite like Danko. Their hormonally-charged looks at lust are always laced with tongue in (her) cheek humour.
Other songs look at another key component of the Danko Jones existence. "A big part of our lives for the past 12 years has been about being out on the road with each album," stresses Danko. "'Code Of The Road' "City Streets" and 'Take Me Home' are all about different aspects of being on the road."
The weary road warrior of "Take Me Home" just wants to be "home where my records are... I'm turning on the stereo first thing when I get home." Such a confession points to another Danko truth. After all these years, he remains, first and foremost a fervent music fan. He currently writes columns about his passion in three European magazines, while his long-running radio show, The Magical World Of Rock, is syndicated to stations in Sweden, Norway, Germany and Canada.
Danko Jones' career now spans four full-length albums (2002's Born A Lion, 2003's We Sweat Blood, and 2005's Sleep Is The Enemy, 2008's Never Too Loud), numerous EPs, collections, and compilation cuts (1996-1999), and multiple Juno Award nominations (Canada's version of the Grammy).
Danko Jones have attained genuine rock hero status in Europe over the past five years. Their no holds barred performance style has made them now-permanent and much-loved fixtures on the huge European rock festival circuit (Lowlands, Rock Im Park, Rock Am Ring, Wacken Open Air, Rock Werchter, Hultsfred, Leeds and Reading just to name a few), and they regularly sell-out increasingly larger venues on their own European headline tours. They've also made fans of some of their heroes, with Danko being invited on two separate occasions to perform with Motorhead. In 2006 the Raconteurs covered the Danko original "Samuel Sin" on their European tour, much to the surprise of JC and Dan, who made the discovery while in the audience at one of their shows. All three members of Danko Jones saw it as "a huge compliment".
The charismatic Danko prowls world stages like a panther in heat. Exuding soul, sweat, and sex appeal, this riveting performer comes across as a dream hybrid of Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Phil Lynott, Sam Cooke and Gene Simmons (that tongue!).He and his two comrades have the right attitude too. "You're only as good as your last show. There is that constant need to impress every single time we go out there. I believe we're yet to play our best show."
On "Code Of The Road," Danko Jones declare "nothing comes easy, but it's worth the fight." This band means it, man. They will never surrender, and for them it's Never Too Loud!!
Official biography: http://www.dankojones.com