Danko Jones on Youth, Beauty & French Desserts...

The Mango Kid versus The Papaya Player...

‘Who is this young lad coming over to my table?’ I pondered, as I waited for Danko Jones to arrive. ‘Fuck me! It's Danko!’ was my next thought. In person, he looks barely out of the adolescent bracket, which is pretty good going for a man who’s been on the road for over a dozen years.

We launch straight into a discussion about Sidewave shows with Fozzy and Duff McKagan’s Loaded; a damn fine fit, right, Mr Jones? “I think it is. There’s a real heavy contingent of bands that we might not be paired off well with and I think Loaded and Fozzy are two bands that make the most sense if you wanna get a hard rock crowd into a club. So I think it’s perfect; absolutely perfect.”

After Australia, it’s off to the US, Canada, and then Europe. Danko tells me they’ll be the main support for Volbeat and he’s looking forward to it. “Volbeat had asked us to come out with them and we’re gonna have a great time. They’re treating us really well so far, in terms of organisation and the lead up to the tour, everything seems pretty cool from their camp, and me and Michael (Poulsen) from Volbeat talked about touring together last year, and to his credit, he came through and asked us to open for them in the States so it’s great.”

The video for Full of Regret (off Below The Belt, 2010) had a shed-load of celebrities in it; Lemmy, Elijah Wood, and Selma Blair to name just a few but the recent video for Just A Beautiful Day (first single from Rock and Rock Is Black and Blue, 2012) has absolutely no famous peeps in it – what’s going on? He explains that having all the famous faces in the previous vids, the band ran the risk of  being “pegged as the ‘band that has the cameos’ and that the only way we could keep going with videos without having to up the stakes was to not have anything and just do a basic black and white performance video.”

I ask what it’s like having Atom Willard (The Offspring) on drums and get a simple “It’s good – Atom’s Atom…” reply. A bit weird but moving on…

Why are you also known as The Mango Kid? “I like mangos. That was coined 15 years ago and ever since then everybody’s given me so much mango stuff that I’m kinda tired of it and I like papayas now.” I was going to suggest The Papaya Player but that just sounds strange.
Getting back to your youthful looks, would you say that touring hasn’t taken its toll on you? “I can’t really say that, though I’ve never really been a drinker or a drug-taker – I have dabbled in both – but it’s never been my thing so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it, or good genes…I don’t know.” And what is ‘your thing’? “The internet. I write a lot of columns for magazines, I do a podcast now, and I have a weekly column in The Huffington Post, that keeps me really busy, man! It keeps you out of trouble.” Jeebers! When he said ‘the internet’ I thought he was going to say he spends all day looking at dog-porn, but he’s actually being creative and constructive on the inter-webs. I point out that he’s now in a position to write, record and review his own albums. He’s enamoured with the idea. “I never thought of that! That would be the best fucking thing to do!” It’s a perfect circle. (No, they were playing on a different stage, Albert - Ed.)

When I ask if he has a dislike of the over-intellectualisation of music, he gives it a lot of thought before responding with “Yes and no – I love dissecting music with people and talking about it, but not in the context of the music. I can wax on about bands – and I love how the more ‘low-brow’ a band is perceived, the higher the level of conversation that can be had from it. I also like things that are deemed as ‘experimental’ and ‘high-brow’ as well, I do like that, I just don’t wanna fall in line with perceptions that most people have of things…” I sense he’s quite a deep thinker beyond his ‘tits and beer’ rock persona.

He tells me the band have got their set-list worked out, noting that “It’s a very fine-tuned festival; you’ve got to get in and then get out. This isn’t the time to be coming up with your 11 minute jams – you’ve just gotta get in there.”

Earlier on I was listening to your Magical World of Rock spoken word pod-cast ; do you find it easy to just get up and rant? He casts his mind back “That was nine years ago, it was my first foray into it and it was caught on tape and put out. Since then I’ve kind of fine-tuned it.” He tells me about last year’s Wacken Open Air Festival where he evolved the spoken word into what he calls ‘lectures’ “I don’t do spoken word in the traditional Jello (Biafra) and Henry (Rollins) sense; I’ve tuned it to my own way; I just didn’t wanna be Henry Rollins Junior or Jello Biafra Junior so now I do ‘lectures’ and I lecture on Kiss.”

Why Kiss? “The history speaks for itself. After 40 plus years and so many phases, eras and members and they elicit both a response of awe and they’re the target of jokes so they give you a wide breadth to speak about, and so they’re an easy topic to choose to lecture on, y’know?”

Have you ever met any of them? “I met Gene (Simmons) once…” and was he a dick? Readers may be surprised to learn that Gene wasn’t. “Nope – he was really cool with me, man! He was really nice to me. Really cool.” It’s nice when celebrities don’t destroy your ideas about them. “Exactly. And that’s why I don’t want to meet people. Last night I met James Hetfield but I really didn’t want to. Everybody was kind of like pushing me towards him because they knew I really liked James Hetfield a lot as a musician, and I was sayin’ like ‘I don’t really wanna meet him’ but they kept pushin’ me…it was almost to satiate them…he was cool…he was a nice guy.”

It’s his turn to be surprised when I tell him that a lot of people think Metallica are dicks (“People think that Metallica are dicks? No!”) but then he makes the very astute observation: “I think people come with their own loaded expectations and they project them, and if they [the celebrities] don’t meet it then they’ve disappointed them.”

OK, the media guys are getting ready to drag you away. Pimp your stuff. “There’s a book released on us called Too Much Trouble, it’s an oral history on our band. It was written by Stuart Berman, he writes for Pitchfork. It came out last year and we have a DVD called Bring on the Mountain (2012) that has a documentary on our band, other than that, we’re just touring. I do a pod-cast, as I said, in fact a couple of the bands that are on here today have done pod-casts with me; Wade (MacNeil) from Gallows; Damian (Abraham) from Fucked Up, they’ve been on my pod-casts a couple of times.”

Finally, are you sick of people asking you about that Paul Miles book Sex Tips from Rock Stars? He sighs in agreement “Aw! Fuck, dude! It was an interview like this. I knew he was writing a book, I just didn’t think it had any legs. When it came out, I asked for a copy before anyone saw it because I wanted to see if he’d twisted my words. It’s a very sensitive issue that can make you look like a dick! But true to him, it was verbatim, and I thought I was true and honest.” Danko tells me he only agreed to be in the book because Lemmy was contributing, and his final word on the matter is “A lot of people kind of bragged and I thought that was not the kind of place to brag. Let’s say for instance, broaching the topic of a ménage au trois, I was honest; I’ve never had a ménage au trois – I want one! I wanted one! I’d love to have one! – But I’ve never had one. So there’s a little bravado in those answers but thankfully I didn’t make us look bad!”
And with that Danko is whisked away.

I didn’t even get to tell him that I love French desserts too…