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Danko Jones: Fists Of Fury

They’ve gone from being diehard underground punks to incendiary rock’n’roll fundamentalists. No one has been able to halt the rise and rise of Danko Jones. Not even Nickelback.

“I have to say, I don’t know of any other bands who started off playing with the New Bomb Turks and ended up opening for Nickelback!” Danko Jones, the shaven-headed frontman with the band who share his name, is looking back on nearly 20 years of manning the rock’n’roll barricades with a mixture of pride and bemusement. Rising from the garage rock boom of the early noughties, the Toronto trio have made the jump from underground band with a diehard punk attitude (they initially refused to release records or merchandise) to raucous, rocket-fuelled rock’n’rollers with a reputation for incendiary live performances.

“I always listened to everything – I never cast off rock from my personal listening,” says Jones, as he explains the band’s sonic evolution. “Then the riffs I was writing just started to sound more like Thin Lizzy. And I thought, ‘Can we really do this?’ Hard rock music demands a certain musical prowess... that we just didn’t have. It was scary, but it was also a challenge – to see if we could pull it off.” 

The thoughtful, bespectacled man sitting in a fine London hotel is a world away from the shaven-headed livewire who has been known to slap himself in the face on stage. “In my personal life I’m really quiet,” Jones admits. “I’ve always sat in the back – back of every class, back of the bus. Being in this band has actually made me go forward. It’s taken me out of my shell.”

Danko Jones’s new album, Fire Music, is the latest step on a musical evolution that has taken in assorted Canadian Grammy nominations, support slots with such heavyweights as Guns N’ Roses and the Rolling Stones, and, in true rock’n’roll style, an in-out cast of drummers that would put Spinal Tap to shame (the latest, Rich Knox, is their seventh). It’s certainly a long way from playing the punk dives of North America. 

“We got a good response to the hard rock so we just kept going,” he says. “We’ll always throw in some sort of garage-y type inspired song, though,” he adds with a smile. 

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