Gigs North East catch up with Don Broco to chat diversity, ‘Technology’ and weird videos ahead of their show at Northumbria Institute in February…
Starting at the very beginning of Don Broco with the ‘Big Fat Smile’ EP, you’ve always been a band whose work has been diverse.You showcased two very different styles on the same EP with ‘Thug Workout’ and ‘Beautiful Morning’. Is this diversity important to you or does it come naturally?
It is definitely something which comes naturally to us, I wouldn’t say it’s that important for every band; there are loads of bands out there, that I love, and they can write an album that has a very distinctive sound which is pretty much just great versions of the same song. I mean there are amazing songs where I think, ‘wait I’ve heard this before’, but they’ve just changed the chords around from the album before with the same melody, but it’s still fantastic. I think for us we get frustrated if we do the same thing twice and we feel like it’s a bit of a cop out, so from the start of our career, we’ve tried to keep things inventive and mix it up as much as possible for sure.
After that, you released your first full-length album ‘Priorities’ which brought around tours with the likes of Enter Shikari and You Me At Six. Were there any moments on these early tours which stand out as being vastly gratifying?
I mean those are two bands who we had seen do it from the grassroots up. UK bands doing it the hard way, playing countless shows and getting to play absolutely epic venues off their own backs. Seeing those bands do it was a massive inspiration to us, and for us to get a chance to play some of those venues we just thought was never possible. As soon as we had done that we all kind of thought we’d love to do this on our own steam – obviously playing support shows is the best way to make new fans, and to get people to even want to come see you again, but once we did those tours though we wanted to do out own shows because there’s no better feeling than playing a headline show to a packed out room.
On the note of headline shows, I remember seeing you headlining the 2015 Kerrang! Tour straight after the release of ‘Money Power Fame’, and then seeing you last year at Slam Dunk after the latest singles, the reception from the crowds this time around felt like a huge step up – have you been surprised by the success of the new singles?
I mean, it’s something we really just kind of hoped for. When we actually set out to write the new material we all said we’re going to make it heavy, make it exciting and basically asked ourselves what we’d want to hear if we go to a Don Broco show. Playing these shows over the past few years we just wanted an album which was going to be wicked for us to play as a band and a good time for the crowd; so getting to test these new songs out, and getting the reaction we’d hoped for, was exactly what we needed. I mean, it’s a wicked feeling when the newest songs you’re playing are getting the best reactions you know.
The production of the new songs stands out greatly when you listen to them – what was it like working with Dan Lancaster and Jason Perry in the studio again?
Working with them before, we managed to build on that and push everything to the extremes really. We knew where all of our strengths lay, we knew where we felt comfortable which enabled us to push ourselves outside of our own comfort zones with this record. We couldn’t have been happier with the results, the album sounds wicked. Dan (Lancaster) did a great job of mixing and producing it – it just sounds really fat which is what you want to hear. When I first got the album back I put it on in the car, and for me, that’s a real test of its success. If I’m in my car driving around, got the bass booming and I think the riffs are really popping then you’re onto a winner.<
We’re still working with a company in Atlanta (USA) called Dominar and they’re just completely on our level, they got exactly what we wanted to do and they came up with the most insane ideas and they’re just so easy to work with. The videos for this album are by far our favourite videos we’ve ever made, they have definitely been the most fun to make. Every new video we are kind of just building this weird world where literally anything can happen. It’s a real pleasure every time we actually get a video back because normally with the first edit it’s not what you wanted – with these videos you get it back and each time, the first edit we’ve seen we’ve pretty much just said yeah, that’s it. It’s been a really fun process this time.
The album ‘Technology’ is coming out in a week and Rock Sound are calling it a contender for album of the year – what can people expect?
For people who already know us, they’re going to hear the Don Broco they know and love; it’s very much a classic Don Broco sounding record. Despite all the risks we took creating the album and pushing it in different ways, it stills comes back to being a classic sound. It’s very much an upbeat sounding record; if you like your music loud and heavy, it’s for you. It’ll for sure come to life in a live way, we wrote these songs with the live shows in mind you know and I think that’s where they’re going to be heard the best too.
The album certainly seems one which everyone is excited about, which song do you think will take listeners by surprise?
There’s a song called ‘Something To Drink’ which is the song which put us out of our comfort zone the most on the album. It’s probably one of the most honest and real songs on the album, we stripped back all the fancy production and all the stuff we’d really been enjoying in the studio. We actually first started writing it on our second album (‘Automatic’) and it was just an idea that, to be honest, it started off as a joke – we were doing pre-production for the album and I started putting on this Kurt Cobain voice< and playing some real grungy chords. I recorded it on my phone and we laughed it off, then in writing for this album, I remembered I had it and we used it as the building block for the rest of the song. From something that started as a bit of a laugh, turned into one of the most honest and emotional songs on the record.
Straight after the release of the album you’re doing a run of UK shows in smaller venues than most expected, are you excited to go back to playing more intimate venues?
Massively. We’ve realised we have this hunger to play the really big spaces and have done some massive arenas, but when it comes down to what we want to do in creating a sick night out for the fans we love the smaller venues. I think some things get lost in arenas, I mean when they’re so big the sound isn’t as good, the ceilings are really high, I think there’s something about a really good normal venue that the crowd is just more up for it. It’s like the difference between the main stage and a tent at a festival, the main stage is amazing with the number of people but you get into a tent and everyone’s sweaty and up for the show.
Yeah, I went to the secret set last year where you were announced as The Prettyboys and it has to be one of the best sets of the weekend.
The Prettyboys sets were some of my favourite shows we’ve ever played as a band. I’d take that over the main stage slot for sure. I’m sure we’ll do that again. Personally, for me, I just love a real sweaty gig.
On February 19th you’re stopping off at Northumbria Uni, do you have any fond memories playing in Newcastle previously?
I think most recently we came back for the shows at Riverside (playing both albums in full) and that’s one of my favourite venues. It’s got a lot of sick memories, something crazy always seems to happen. We always go out after as well and the deals you have are mental on your doubles and treble, we always have a wicked time. My brother’s actually living there at the minute too so it’s a good night out.
And finally, what does 2018 hold for Don Broco?
Once the albums out it’s really just going to kick start touring, we have a busy schedule now up until the summer and after that, there are a lot of things penciled in we can’t announce just yet. We just looked at our diaries the other day and we were like we aren’t going to be home for like 6 months, it’s exciting though I mean playing shows is our favourite thing.
INTERVIEWER: ADAM HUTCHINSON
Don Broco release new album ‘Technology’ is released on 2nd February 2018. Make sure you catch them showcasing it live at Northumbria Institute on 19th February. Tickets are still available but won’t be around for much longer!