An interview with Don Broco
I talked to Don Broco’s lead singer Rob Damiani about their new album, upcoming tour, “Made in Chelsea” and all things in between. Rob and the drummer Matt Donnelly both attended The University of Nottingham and lived in Sherwood halls of residence during their first year so have an attachment to the city and are excited about headlining their first Rock City headline gig on the 9th of December.
Hi Rob, firstly, how does it feel to have a new album out and a tour to go with it?
Yeah great, we can’t wait for the tour. We just started getting to grips with the album in practice. You cut the CD and then until you have to play them live you don’t really think about them. So it makes practicing fun, because you know, it’s pretty boring when you’re doing a song that you’ve played so many times.
I guess it helps make the live shows more fun too, after all the Yeah Man [track from first album Priorities] crowd participation?
Yeah, totally. It’s super fun still doing that live, and you get a massive buzz off that. Yeah Man is a really good example. That was one of those album tracks that was one of our personal favourites. When we first started playing it live, it turned out to be a real crowd favourite. I don’t think we would have ever guessed it would have been when we wrote it. So it’s going to be really interesting getting to see which new songs have that vibe, that atmosphere.
Yeah, that’ll be interesting to see. So what do you think is the inspiration for your new album, Automatic?
The inspiration was lyrically from my view. It’s about, as well as all the doom and gloom and things wrong in day to day life, it had more of a positive outlook. It was only after we had written it that I realized that quite a few songs were about living life for the moment and not dwelling on things, and if things are going well just embracing them and carrying on with them. Once we’d actually given the band a go and we were realising that we’d taken a chance on a slightly dodgy career path. We didn’t regret it and we wouldn’t change anything in the world because we’ve had some incredible years, being in a band and actually getting to live that dream. I think a lot of people don’t take those chances in life, it’s very easy to go to school, go to Uni, get a job in London.
[laughs] I know that well myself
Yeah, and if you’re not passionate about something, it’s very easy to fall into that. I think it’s really important if you believe in something, even if it’s a sign, a crazy idea or something that you think you might get to do; if you’ve got an opportunity to do it you’ve got to take that and give it a go. Weirdly, about half the album ended up being on that subject, not that I was planning on writing anything about that but it was obviously something I was thinking about. You’ve got to really back yourself and it can take a lot of work, it’s not always the easy option.
You’ve come a long way from the performing at the Esquire’s [small venue in Broco’s hometown of Bedford] gigs to now O2 Academy Brixton.
Yeah, totally, that’s something that we never would have thought we’d be doing you know, in our career. When we started playing shows at Esquire’s, playing shows at school, we always had dreams, but we never put that Brixton Academy stamp on it. We were never even considered back then; I think we’re alright. [laughs] We’re an alright band. But a lot of it is just hard work and staying in power and sticking at it and being prepared to take a few risks, that’s what it really comes down to. So I think it shows that if your hearts in it and you work hard that anyone can really get there.
There has been a lot of hard work, including appearing on “Made In Chelsea”. How was that?
That was pretty bizarre. We had never done anything like that. We’d done one or two TV shows in the past, but more musical based It was a very surreal experience but pretty fun. It was “Made In Chelsea” but we were in Essex at the time because it was a music festival that we were doing, and we were just super lucky with the weather as well, it was a beautiful day. They had free ice cream, the best burgers I think I’ve ever eaten so we were just eating stupid amounts of food and playing to the “Made In Chelsea” cast.
I bet that was a surreal experience.
When you’re looking into the crowd and you’re seeing all these random people who you’ve heard of. I don’t actually watch the show, but know who they are. You can’t really get away from them. And they’re all super nice. All the crew, and all the behind the scenes people are super nice. And you know, it’s a very different outlook for us to be involved with because it’s not the normal kind of place you’d think to discover music but a lot of people do. It’s the soundtrack to “Made In Chelsea” that is amazing. The girl who chooses all the music has got such an ear for new bands. She’s really great supporting UK talents, so it’s wicked to be involved with it from that side.
And you’ve got some pretty cool support acts for your Automatic tour coming up. How did that come about for them to support you?
Basically Coasts and Arcane Roots are just two of our favourite UK bands at the moment. We had known Arcane Roots for a little while. The first time we saw them was at a festival in Southampton about three years ago. And I remember watching them side-stage and thinking “wow, these guys are insane”. They remind me of a kind of more feral Biffy Clyro [laughs]. And they’re one of my favourite bands. We first heard of Coasts about a year and a bit ago and I really love their tunes.
They’ve come up massively in the last couple of years, haven’t they?
Yeah, totally, and they are another very hard working band who are on the verge of big things and really getting themselves out there. We love listening to those bands anyway, so we get to watch them every night on tour.
We saw that you recently did a house party in Nottingham. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
That came about so last minute. We were actually on the way to Leeds, to do a house party One of my brothers mates goes to Uni there and he’s got a house, and it was all set to happen and I don’t know exactly what happened. I think either it was his housemates pulled out, or he maybe saw some photos and some videos from the night before.
What had happened to the house the night before?
It was all very secret because we didn’t want word getting out too much. Because the British are ones to go a little bit mental, the police ended up coming and there were hundreds of people who couldn’t get in the house, physically there was no room for them. We felt a lot of people had come who had heard about it and they’ve made the effort but they couldn’t see us. So we wanted to keep it super secret. But then, once we announced that it was in Leeds we got a load of tweets through. Someone in Nottingham said ‘oh, don’t do it in Leeds, come to Nottingham’, and when we found out that Leeds wasn’t going to happen, we just tweeted her back and said ‘alright, we’ll come. We’ll do it in Nottingham!’. So we just drove to Nottingham, literally it was about four hours before we were going to start playing, you can’t go too late because the police have got complete rights to shut you down. So we rushed, we got there as quick as we could, told literally a hand full of people. At the service station on the way in there was a whole bunch of RAG raiders coming back and they recognized us as we were grabbing a quick Burger King. We felt too bad not to tell them about it. I think they were from Broadgate Park, but they were obviously first years. They were wasted, covered in face paint and snot dripping down their noses, they were absolute disgraces.
Sounds like a good night.
We let them know about it and they showed up. It was a real secret, word of mouth, thing. Which was perfect. It was exactly how we wanted it. Even when that happens, you get 100 people in a room and it’s absolutely carnage. It was so much fun, you know I kind of wish we started doing them earlier. I think for us it was quite nice to do it back in Lenton where we were students. If we had known we were going to have this house, we would have picked Nottingham to do it anyway. But, we didn’t want to take the risk of trashing someone’s house we didn’t know. We’d feel really bad about it. But nothing got broken, everyone was really cool there, so we just played the show and had a bit of a spontaneous house party. Which was quite nice bringing everyone together, a lot of people didn’t know each other there. It was just random mates who had heard about it and so it turned into a quite different vibe for the night.
I bet it’ll be weird coming back to your big headline tour at Rock City when I guess you probably went to a couple of gigs at Rock City when you were here?
Yeah, we were there all the time. We saw so many good bands. We’d go out to a lot of club nights as well. They’d always put on good dance festivals when it span Rock City and Rescue Rooms and Stealth, and there’s such a variety of stuff going on there. I think one of my favourite shows I’ve ever seen was Deftones at Rock City. One of my favourite bands growing up, and getting to see them there it was such a good venue anyway. It was wicked and we played three, four years ago now. We did Hit The Deck festival there where we got to do the main stage. So to get to come back and do it on our own stage is going to be so extra cool.
People coming there just for you.
Yeah, I mean that’s the best feeling ever when you’ve got that room and you know that everyone’s there because they like your music and everyone’s in it together.
Have you got a dream venue where you’d love to preform, or that you’ve always had your eyes on?
I mean, I would have probably said O2 Academy Brixton.
Now that’s happening!
Yeah, it’s one of my favourite venues.
Maybe headlining Reading and Leeds festival then?
Yeah, if you’re talking real big big stuff, that’s the ultimate festival. The ultimate dream headline slot there because, we’ve seen so many incredible bands at Reading and Leeds throughout the years and that was the festival we always went to growing up. And I still love how they’ve kept the line-up so strong throughout the years. It’s really diverse for someone like me who loves a whole range of music and, who will gladly, go into the rock tent, head over to the dance tent then go and see some hip hop. It’s got such a great mix of music and acts. I think for a lot of people it is their first festival. It’s the first festival you go to when you’ve done your GCSEs, you’re allowed out of the house, that is the staple festival from the about age 16 to 24. When you’re really discovering what you like. Getting into music, when you’ve got the time to really throw yourself into it. So yeah, it’s got a really special place for us. We got to do the main stage a couple years ago and that was cool, but to headline it you know when the lights, when it’s night time, and you’ve got the proper lights and fireworks really create like an awesome (sic).
Yeah definitely, now my last question, is Thug Workout going to stay for this new tour?
Oh, big time! It’s one of our favourite songs to play live. It’s one of those kind of weird, just weird crazy songs that doesn’t really make any sense. But, when it comes into a live environment it just takes on a life of its own. It’s got such an energy to it, for a lot of people it’s probably still one of their favourite songs live. So it’s a lot of fun to play as well. It just works in the set when you want to mix things up a little bit and, it’s quite interesting now working out our set list and fitting it into the other songs in our set and getting the flow right. But, if you time it right, when you hear that rift drop it just sounds, absolutely massive.
New video for ‘Nerve’ from new album Automatic