Come April, British quartet Don Broco will head to America for their first-ever stateside tour, supporting State Champs alongside Against The Current and With Confidence. AP caught up with vocalist Rob Damiani to find out how a band that used to be called Club Sex actually got U.S. working visas…
Plus, we have a first look at their newly released video for "Nerve" from their latest album Automatic, which you can get here, and a new live video of "Fire" with footage taken from their time supporting 5 Seconds of Summer on their EU arena tour.
For many reading this article, it will be the first time they’ve heard of Don Broco. Where would you suggest people start when digging into the backstory of your band?
I’d probably advise people to avoid our backstory at all costs. [Laughs.] Don’t try and understand where this band came from because it doesn’t make any sense. Some bands form when they are older, they have more experience, a cohesive image and an idea of what they want to express. We had none of that. If we found anything fun or enjoyable, we embraced it. If that was putting weird British quirks in our songwriting, harnessing that Britpop sound we love or coming out with an English breakfast tea merch range. If it made us smile, we did it.
"Some bands form when they are older, they have more experience, a cohesive image and an idea of what they want to express. We had none of that."
To your credit, a lot of your early days—the “Thug Workout” video—and less glamorous moments (Wall of Death fail, seen below) are still online. Are you secretly proud of how you organically grew into what you are now?
We did a few tour videos when we first started and it was only a few months ago that we came across them. We couldn’t believe what they contained. Honestly, the stuff we used to film and post is way too risqué for us now, but I do laugh at them, though. There’s something so honest and uncontrived about those clips.
You’re currently writing your third album. How’s it going?
The goal is to get back from the State Champs tour and start releasing new music. I think as a band, you feel the gap between new material much more than the fans. We want to keep the new ideas coming thick and fast this year. We’re recording it with our longtime collaborator Dan Lancaster (Bring Me The Horizon, 5 Seconds Of Summer, Lower Than Atlantis). He was in Tom [Doyle, bassist]’s old band Proceed, and we’ve worked with him throughout our career. Dan’s sound is incredible—it’s going to be really exciting to hear what we come up with.
What are your goals for the new record?
The main thing we really think about is the live show. We’ve done a lot of touring now, and I think one of the best feelings that we get as a band is playing the songs that get us and the crowd going. For a rock band, it’s all about live: I don’t know any rock bands that first or foremost aren’t a live group. Perhaps other genres don’t need that experience to be as good, but for us it’s everything, so we’re making a record that will be exciting to play live.
"I’m a big fan of the turtleneck, I honestly think it’s one of the world’s best clothing inventions."
Bold talk, and bold fashion moves in the “Nerve” video. Isn’t it only Bond villains and Shaft that can wear turtlenecks?
I’m a big fan of the turtleneck, I honestly think it’s one of the world’s best clothing inventions. I’m a lazy person and I can’t be bothered with scarves; when it’s a cold day, you throw it on and you’re basically wearing a jumper, but because of the neck, people think you’re dressing smart—genius. So in real life, I love turtlenecks, but on that video shoot, it was one of the worst decisions I made. I wore a coat on top of it, too. Now, music videos are hot experiences; there are so many lights on you and you’re doing scene after scene rocking out. That turtleneck got uncomfortable and sweaty quickly, not so great.
Was it a real bull or a CGI bull?
That was a real bull, but we shot the bull scene elsewhere and recreated the sandpit because they didn’t want to drag the bull up to our shoot. Diva. However, there is another bit of the video where we had a CGI statue crumbling. Originally, we wanted a statue blowing up with a low-impact explosive. Unfortunately, that was too expensive, so we had to fake it. I wouldn’t have stood for a CGI bull though. You can’t fake something like that.
Is this State Champs tour a fun vacation or the beginning of something for Don Broco over here?
Ideally both. When you’re in a band, the brutal truth is that you’re not in it for the money, you’re in it to have fun, create memories and make music that’s special to you. That’s what it’s all about and that’s what we hope the tour is about for us. We haven’t met the other guys on the tour, but they seem to be the same as us. We’re excited for it.
How much do you put into the live show?
We know some bands that don’t give a fuck about their show. In some ways I’m jealous of that; it’s very cool and very rock ’n’ roll to go with the flow. But we consider ourselves a hard-working band who take our touring very seriously. We feel like shit if we play a show that isn’t our best and isn’t amazing.
"People who meet us are often shocked because they see us and think we must be constantly playing pranks on each other, but the reality is we’re diligent, dedicated and trying to make music we love. But what is the music we love? It’s fun music, music that makes you want to dance and go wild. Seriously unserious!"
Is that the secret to understanding your band? You are serious about what matters and seriously unserious about the rest?
Yup, that makes perfect sense to me. People who meet us are often shocked because they see us and think we must be constantly playing pranks on each other, but the reality is we’re diligent, dedicated and trying to make music we love. But what is the music we love? It’s fun music, music that makes you want to dance and go wild. Seriously unserious!
Speaking of which, each year you sell some novelty merchandise. How well did the 2016 Christmas drinks sell?
Really well, actually. Every time we put them on sale they sell out quickly. We save them for Christmas because we want there to be a perfect festive gift for the Don Broco lover. We started with tea, moved to coffee and we just sold out of our hot chocolate, “Don Cocoa.”
Will you be bringing any novelty merchandise items to America?
We’ve not thought about it yet, but if anyone has an idea hit us up on Twitter and let us know what you want. We’ll make it—we’ll make anything! ALT