Danko Jones on Singing with Motörhead and Vocal Therapy with Sting The Exclaim! Questionnaire

"Working at a porno shop on Yonge Street was definitely memorable but also shitty beyond belief"
Danko Jones on Singing with Motörhead and Vocal Therapy with Sting The Exclaim! Questionnaire
Photo: Dustin Rabin
The band Danko Jones — not to be confused with the man Danko Jones — have been grinding it out for 30 years, smashing their way through a steady string of riff-filled hard rock anthems. Their tenth album, Power Trio, serves as a scorching reminder that Danko Jones are more than just a one-man show.

Frontman Jones tells Exclaim! that this latest album was written during the pandemic, when the band members were distanced from one another. "We've always written albums bashing it out in a room together so this was a new approach," he reflects. "Maybe it was the endless time we had on our hands to work the songs, but I think it came out even better than our previous albums."

To celebrate the release of the album, Jones took the Exclaim! Questionnaire and told us about his time working in a porn shop on Yonge Street, how the crowd nearly rioted when the band opened for Guns N' Roses, and the time Sting stole his voice therapy appointment.

What are you up to?

We're about to release our 10th studio album (August 27) in our 25 years as a band. The album is called Power Trio and I'm super excited and very proud that we did it during the pandemic. Last year, I released my noise project, Throat Funeral, out into the world. The album, OU812112, was finished five years ago and features Tanya Tagaq, Tad Doyle and Jørgen Munkeby.


What are your current fixations?

I spent most of 2020 tracking virus and vaccine news. I wasn't able to enjoy much. Now that vaccines are being rolled out, I'm able to exhale a bit and slowly start consuming entertainment again. I'm currently watching I Think You Should Leave on Netflix and One Mississippi on [Amazon] Prime. I'm currently reading They Just Seem a Little Weird: How KISS, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, and Starz Remade Rock and Roll by Doug Brod. Fucked Up put out an amazing record with Year of the Horse (Act Two). Also, I'm addicted to coffee-flavoured mochi.

Why do you live where you do?

I was born in Toronto and it's the city's multicultural environment that makes it the place I feel most comfortable.

What's the last book or movie that blew your mind?

I don't know about blowing my mind, but I did enjoy reading Charlie Brooker's The Hell of It All. He writes for The Guardian and has compiled his articles into three books. I've read all three.

What has been your most memorable or inspirational concert and why?

There have been a lot of shows over the years, but opening for Guns N' Roses in 10 countries throughout 2010 remains a highlight. When we opened for GN'R in Dublin, Philomena Lynott was our guest, and I remember frantically calling her to leave the venue when it looked like there could be a full-scale riot due to the show ending prematurely. Luckily, we all got out safe and sound.

What's been the greatest moment of your career so far?

There have been a few choice moments, and mainly when I've met people whom I've looked up to for years. Having breakfast with Ian MacKaye in the Hague or singing "Killed by Death" with Motörhead almost every night we toured with them are definitely up there.


What's been the worst moment of your career so far?

It always sucks when drummers leave our ranks. Having to find a new one can be nerve-racking. We're lucky we found our guy in Rich Knox eight years ago.

Who's a Canadian musician that should be more famous?

The bands Mount Cyanide and the OBGMs should be more well known.

What advice should you have taken, but did not?

I don't know about advice, but I do have one outstanding regret: when Jeff Healey would repeatedly invite me to jam with him and I was always just too busy with band commitments to make time. I kick myself to this day.

What was the first song you ever wrote?

It was some Misfits/Ramones knockoff tune. I can't remember the title anymore but I remember it sounding pretty damn good.

What do you think of when you think of Canada?

I think of Dave Hodge. I think of Maestro Fresh Wes. I think of David Suzuki.

What's the meanest thing anyone has ever said about your art?

There have been so many slings over the years, my skin is calloused beyond belief. Of course there's the usual covert racist jabs, but criticism aimed at our band are usually by people with little musical knowledge, desperate to sound smart. I want to pat them on the head and squeeze their cheeks.

What was the first album you ever bought with your own money?

I know it was on cassette and I want to say The Crossing by Big Country or Metal Health by Quiet Riot?

What was your most memorable day job?

Working at a porno shop on Yonge Street was definitely memorable but also shitty beyond belief. There were porn booths in the back and I did not want to know what was going on back there.

If you weren't playing music, what would you be doing instead?

In the past, I've said I'd be starting a band, but I don't think that's a smart idea in 2021. I have no fucking clue and it's scaring the shit out of me that I have no fucking clue.


How do you spoil yourself?

I am a potato chip addict. You can feed me Neal Brothers chips three times a day. I've also quietly stopped buying records, but I keep lapsing back to spoil myself.

What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?

I am loyal to my friends. I don't like that I have a quick temper. I'd like to be calmer and cooler, especially while I'm driving. The only problem is nobody knows how to drive in Toronto.

What's the best way to listen to music?

Headphones while walking and walking and walking.

What do you fear most?

My biggest fear on tour is I'll lose my voice. It's happened once before and it was every bit the nightmare I thought it was going to be.

If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?

I know it won't make me money, but I'd start a small record label and put out hot rock.

What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?

While waiting to see my voice therapist, in walked Sting from the Police. He bumped me off my scheduled appointment but eventually walked out and gracefully apologized. This was during the Police reunion tour and, as a singer myself, I totally understood his vocal predicament. I told him not to worry, but I should've hit him up for tickets and requested they play "Dead End Job" and "Landlord" on the tour.

Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?

Kylie Minogue and we could order in. It could be anything, really. How about Indian, Chinese, Thai or Mexican? Maybe we could watch a funny romcom while cozied up in front of a fireplace?

What is the greatest song of all-time?

I do believe it's "Unchained" by Van Halen. Wicked main riff, awkward but wild pre-chorus, singable chorus with extraordinary backup vocals, fiery guitar solo, ingenious lyrical and musical interplay in the bridge: "Come on, Dave, give me a break / One break coming up," followed by…a complete stop!

Or could it be "Overkill" by Motörhead? An intro with a drum pattern that launched a thousand bands. Again, strong musical and lyrical interplay where the song ends not once, not twice, but thrice. Each ending with its own guitar solo. The title summarizes the entire hard rock genre too.