I caught a quick word with John Calabrese, bass player from Canadian tour monsters Danko Jones, we had a chat about Angus Young’s nephews, clown car tour buses and Paul Stanley’s Love Gun.
Photo credit: Ron Boudreau
John Calabrese – Yeah, it’s finally out over your way and the USA the week before. We toured Australia over around 6 years ago and we’re definitely long overdue a trip over there.
One of the standout songs on the record is Code of the Road – what is the code of the road? Is it the sex and drugs or something a bit deeper?
JC – To me the code of the road is playing hard, delivering the goods every night and all that sex and drugs stuff happens but we’re just happy to be playing. When we wrote the new record we’d just come off of tour and a lot of the songs reflect that time of constant touring.
You guys tour Europe a lot, where do you get your biggest crowds and who would you love to tour with?
JC – Some of our favourite places to play are Germany, Holland and Scandinavia definitely; we always get good crowds there. We’re off on tour in the USA in a short while where we’ll be playing with The Damned and next year we’re touring with Motorhead and The Damned. I’d absolutely love to play with AC/DC or Kiss; they’re two of the best bands out there.
We actually met Angus’ nephews once at a gig in Holland two years back, they were around 15 or 16 and came up to the merch table and asked “who do you look up to”, I said AC/DC and they asked their dad if they could tell us who their uncle was and said “Angus is my uncle and he taught me how to play The Sound of Love on guitar and he has your records!”
Wow, quite a compliment! Who else are you listening to at the moment??
JC – Apart from AC/DC I always listen to Thin Lizzy, music always comes in waves for me whether I listen to Thin Lizzy, Slayer or whatever but right now on my iPod I’m listing to the new Converge record, Immortal, Fleetwood Mac, Future of the Left, In Flames and Pearl Jam.
I see you thanked Quit Your Dayjob (crazy Swedish electo punk) in your liner notes, they’re my favourite obscure band. You guys are on the same label aren’t you?
JC – We’ve taken them out on the road a bunch of times too, we love them. I heard their demo once and met up with their singer Mark in a bar and he didn’t know we knew who he was and I went up to him and said “Look, A Dollar!” [QYD song] he cracked up.
It’s so much fun to tour with them, we had this bus and they had a tiny little van and they were so happy it had seats!
I saw you guys released a Having Fun on Stage with Danko Jones 7”, how did that come about and I’m guessing you guys are familiar with the Elvis version?
JC – I don’t know the Elvis one actually; I have the Paul Stanley one!
I’ve never heard of the Paul Stanley one, the Elvis record was released by the colonel so he didn’t have to pay royalties to the record label and sell them at shows, supposedly Elvis hated it.
JC – I’ll check that out! the Paul Stanley one is really funny where he goes on about his love gun a lot of the time.
You guys are on the Saw 5 soundtrack, are you a fan at all?
JC – I’m not sure actually, I think on of the producers is actually a fan of ours and managed to get us on there. I’ve actually not seen any of the Saw films either, I had no idea there were so many so I think I’m going to try and watch them next time on tour.
I heard you had a fight with a Canadian rapper a while back and he called you Stanko Jones, what happened?
JC – Oh yeah, he’s supposed to be a wordsmith and he called us that! He’s not going to go far in his business if he can’t come up with anything better!
We got “Wanko Jones” from Motorhead, they called up the organisers of a festival we were playing with them and made them put that on our door.
You guys toured with them last year in the UK didn’t you?
JC – Motorhead are the loudest band we’ve ever played with and are always great, fans always show up whatever day of the week and whatever the weather. A lot of people said we were going to have a tough time opening up the shows but the fans were really cool to us.
You guys have quite a dedicated fanbase too?
JC – Oh yeah, small but dedicated and they always support us whatever we do, it helps us keep touring as we don’t have a big label or much money behind us. We rely on playing live and we’re lucky to have such great fans.
Any final words?
JC – Yeah, tell people to ask us to come and play over in Australia. The more people that ask the more of a chance there is we’ll get to come over!