"There are literally no rules. We’ve got already, 50, 60 song ideas..." - Rob Damiani.
It's been a massive couple of years for the lads in Don Broco - with the release of their album 'Technology', a Rock Sound Award for Best British Artist, and a UK Arena tour... We thought it only right to have a quick catch up with frontman Rob Damiani on what they've been up to, new music, and what the future has in store.
How are things? It sounds like you’ve had another busy few months since your UK arena tour…
Says Rob: “Yeah, the UK tour was incredible, Wembley was amazing, and then before we knew it, we were back out on the road again! We were just so stoked with how the tour had gone, but also how Wembley had done, because… it was the final show of the tour, the biggest show we’d ever done, at a huge, traditionally revered venue. Wembley Arena is so famous and well known, the name alone heaps the pressure on, and the nerves.
"We were definitely a little nervous, but ready for it by that point in the tour, and we all came offstage having had the best show. It was a very rare moment for Don Broco - all of us super happy! Usually there’s one or two of us who are like, ‘Ah, it was good, but this really annoyed me’, or something had messed up, we couldn’t shake that it wasn’t the best it could be. But we came out of that show thinking ‘That couldn’t have gone better’. It was awesome.
"And then we had a week or so at home, and were back out on the road with Mike Shinoda in Europe. Straight away following that, we had another week at home where I was attempting to move house, and before we knew it we were back in the States! It’s all gone super quick, and we only got back two weeks ago. It’s crazy when you look at it, it actually feels like longer ago, almost a lifetime ago, because we’ve been in America for so long.”
Do you feel like you’ve carved out a real fanbase in the US now, after doing a bunch of tours out there in recent years?
“When you’re in America, you kind of get into that touring mentality where, because you’re out there for so long you’re living and breathing it, and you forget about the real world for a bit. This was by far the most incredible tour we’ve ever done in America. It feels like people know us there now.
"Whenever you go out somewhere for the first few times, supporting other bands, it can be hard work - you might get the occasional show where people are just up for it in the pit though. Sometimes there’s just that feeling that people are going to have a mosh whatever the fuck they’re listening to. Even at our shows as well, sometimes we’ll be playing a real slow-burner, chill song, and there’ll be pockets of moshpits opening up and people just going nuts. It’s like, ‘This wasn’t really how we envisioned this song going...’ You sometimes have that as a support act where people don’t know you, and that’s awesome, but there are also a lot of shows where people are just taking it in and hearing your music for the first time. It might not be the most rewarding show in the moment, but it’s laying the groundwork for you to come back.
"We’ve done that over four or five US tours, over the past two years, so going back this time it was clear that people knew us. We’ve got our own fans there who are getting down, singing along, and that’s what it’s all about. You’ve got to put the work in, you’ve got to put the hard graft in, and getting the opportunity to support other bands and win their fans over is so important. When you actually get your own fans back, that’s incredible - and this time it was on a really varied bill, too. It was with Dance Gavin Dance and Periphery, and there were a lot of real tech metal fans out there, not necessarily people you’d think would choose Don Broco as their favourite band. But it went down great, people really got into it, and I guess we were a nice break from everything else on the bill. So we just had a laugh.”
How have you coped with the sometimes punishing schedule of those US tours?
“Now that we’ve been to the States a few times, the novelty of going to try all of the naughty American delicacies, like, ‘This place does the best pizza, this place has the best burger…’ has worn off a little. Previously we’d just be touring around all the best food places and seeing the sights. Now we’ve done that a bit, it’s like, ‘Well, what now?’ And so on this tour, we started hiring these bikes and scooters that you can find on an app, where you just hop on and hop off. Biking to places, getting to properly see them and take it all in, it was insane. If we had an hour to kill before a show before, there’s only so far you can walk down the road. Now we’ll get on one of these bikes, and you can trek it for miles… so we’d get a little bike gang together and go on all these adventures. It was like we were the kids from E.T. cycling around, and that was one of the main factors that transformed that tour for me, getting excited every day to go on a little ride.”
Speaking of diverse bills, you’re playing London’s Community Festival soon - where you stand out a fair bit.
“Yeah, it is weird, the bills we play on as a band! It’s also kind of great though. It scares us a bit, because it reminds us of the early days a little... Being back in the UK in more recent years, we’ve been doing our own shows. Going out to other places like the States and playing on varied bills, it reminds us of what it was like starting out as a band, where we’d be put on a hardcore bill or a heavy metal bill, and then the next day we’d do an indie night, playing with a load of Libertines rip off bands! It was always like, ‘Shit, how is this going to go down?’ Coming back to the UK now for Community, with The Kooks and Blossoms, and a whole bunch of other bands, it’s really interesting.”
Does part of you enjoy the challenge, too?
“These kinds of bills, they’re almost where we come from as a band: combining whatever the fuck we want and trying to make new music out of it. This side of our sound, the more pop, indie leanings, it’s definitely an important part of Don Broco, but we’ve never actually done a festival before where that’s the main focus. We stick out like a sore thumb! It’ll be really fun to get the pit going and bring the rock to a more traditionally pop and indie festival. Hopefully we can shake things up and give a lot of people who never usually listen to heavier music a sample of that, maybe even bring them over to the rock world.”
Who else on the line-up are you looking forward to seeing?
“The Kooks were a band that I really loved growing up - they had so many huge, pop and indie anthems. I remember at university, every night you’d be out, hear a Kooks song, and it would be a classic singalong. I started listening to them again when I knew we were doing the festival, and the songs are still fucking amazing. So that should be awesome.”
Looking forward, have you had a chance to think about new music and what comes next?
“This is the first time we’ve got home and actually had a bit of time off - two months now before we head back to the States. It’s not long at all really, but at least it gives us a chance to think about things, chill and recalibrate. Now we can start thinking about the next album. Being at home and fleshing out song ideas we might have had on the road, we can really start the process. We need to re-figure out how to write an album.
"That’s the interesting thing: creating a whole body of work is something you only do every two or three years. By the time you’ve done that and finished touring it, you completely forget how to do it all! But you don’t want to do it the same way, anyhow. It’s good to have that break, because when you come back to it, hopefully you don’t slip into the same way of doing things. I like every album being different and having its own feel. That’s what we’re doing at the moment, getting our heads down, working out what we’re doing and starting the process.”
Do you have any idea how it might shape up in terms of sound or approach yet?
“It’s this first stage which is always very exciting, because there are literally no rules. We’ve got already, 50, 60 song ideas, very basic ideas at the minute, but all completely different. They could all take so many different routes by the time they’re finished, so it’s so hard to know. I guess we’ll see: it’s that time where, once we’ve got that initial process going, we can start writing some concepts for songs and directions we want to take them in lyrically, and sometimes you only truly figure out the vibe once you’re in the studio. It’s so open at the minute, which is exciting, but also scary, because at some point we’re going to have to choose a direction!”
What are your plans for the rest of 2019?
“We’re heading back in two months to do our first ever US headline tour, which we’re really excited about, after spending so much time building it up on this album and supporting other bands. And once we’re back home after that, it’s all going to be about writing a new album. Writing songs on the road like we have and getting ideas down, you can put a lot of energy into it. I’m sure some bands are different and can do it a bit better, but I love being in my comfort zone at home in my room, knowing that if I have an idea, I can just go and get it down immediately, rather than having to wait for a 30 minute window before soundcheck to rush it out. I’m excited to have a bit of time at the end of this year to really throw ourselves into the music. That’s what it’s all about, the most important thing of all.”
Don Broco are playing Community Festival in Finsbury Park on Sunday, June 30. Tickets are still available here.