‘Norwich is definitely one of our favourites’ - Interview with Don Broco frontman Rob Damiani ahead of their show at The LCR
- Credit: Kane Layland
We had a chat with Don Broco frontman Rob Damiani about the new album, the upcoming tour and more ahead of their headline show at The Nick Rayns LCR in Norwich.
So you recently released 'Come Out To LA', your new single off the upcoming album 'Technology'. It feels like you guys have really stepped up your game with the new music. What were the decisions behind this new turn in your sound?
The only real decision I guess was that we wanted to make it a real live album. The last album was very smooth, chilled out, kind of laid back rock music. We wanted it to sound different.
What can we do that we haven't done before as a band, which is basically take what we love about our live shows and heavy music in general and give the album that rough starting point.
In regards to the actual songs, we still kind of threw everything in there, if we had a good idea, just put it in. The only general brief behind it was we knew we were going to be playing the songs live, and for us live shows are our favourite thing about being in a band, so what are we going to enjoy playing and what are our fans going to enjoy having a good time to.
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What was the inspiration behind the video for 'Come Out To LA'?
When we started it, it would have been with our 'Everybody' video, which was the first time we worked with this particular video company in Atlanta, and we just really hit it off with these guys. They had a really similar sense of humour, a very creative, artistic direction when it came to movie effects that still look really fun.
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We just embraced that and wanted to have fun with it and do something that we haven't done before and create videos that we would want to watch.
I've got nothing against band videos where you see a band playing - we've done a load of them. Personally, I was getting really bored of just standing in a room and playing our instruments. That's what we do on stage and that's when it really shows what you're like as a band, so I think a video is a great way of showing people a different side to you, whether that's your sense of humour or creative side.
We've done cowboys, we've done aliens, and we've done serial killers so we thought we would do cyborg. It's quite a fun song because Matt, who's our drummer, gets to sing a fair amount in it. He's never got to sing that much before, so we thought we'd play with that within the narrative and turn him into the lead singer for a little while which was really weird for me.
Your previous album received great feedback from your fans, are you looking forward to the release of 'Technology' on the 2nd February?
Definitely! It's kind of scary when you've built everything towards one day, it does feel like there's a lot of pressure on it. But weirdly it doesn't feel as pressured as the last album. I don't know if that's just because we've had so much more music out before the release.
We took a different tact when we were releasing music this time around. As soon as we had a song that was ready, we just wanted to get it out there and get our fans the music as and when rather than holding it all back for the album.
It made it a lot more fun for us in the studio because you forget what it's like as a band to be playing shows and to be doing band stuff, which is putting out music and getting that buzz when you get a good reaction from it. So because we got to do that during the writing process it kind of gave us more confidence writing the album and took the pressure off.
People have heard five or six songs from the album already, and it's a long album, but we know people are already on board with the new vibe. We are confident people are going to love it and we are excited for people to hear it.
What's the process like for you guys when it comes to writing and producing an album? Where does it start and how do you bring all your ideas together?
Usually Simon, our guitarist, will come up with a riff or a loop or something pretty basic. Once we've got that we just write a load of music around it that could be useful and then build the building blocks.
Me and Matt get together and just jam a load of melodies and then just get in a room and do a kind of show and tell and be like ok, we've got this, this and this, this works with this, this works with that. Then normally off the back of that we'll get the guitars out and come up with a few more ideas and piece the song together from there.
This time around it was way more fluid than the last two albums in the sense that we had these ideas but weren't necessarily set on the song before we went in the studio. Last time we pretty much had the songs all done and dusted, they might change a little bit, but this time we said 'ok we've got a load of good stuff here but we are open to moving it around'.
Matt didn't really write any drums until he got in the studio and then he would literally just play a load of drums and then we'd just choose the bits that we thought were cool and that we could work with, tweak and build on.
You've also spoken about how 'T-Shirt song' is one of the most emotional songs on the upcoming album for you personally. Was it scary writing this song and putting it out there for other people to hear?
I'd say it was more emotionally relevant with me than directly personal. It's a song that I was quite scared of talking about.
The heart of the song is about a really really tough breakup that my friend went through. Whenever you are writing about other people, which I do, you want to write from experience, so I write about things I've gone through, things my friends have gone through, and this certain topic was probably the hardest because I didn't want to speak for him because you never know exactly how people are feeling.
The sentiment of the song which I strongly believe is the way to really get through anything tough in life, is that when you hit the bottom, the way you build from that, and sometimes the only solace you can find in that is to think, that was absolutely terrible but that's never going to hit me as hard again because I've been there now and I'll be ready for it. The second time that happens, if it does, it won't be as bad.
When people screw you over in life and maybe don't treat you the way you would like to be treated or would treat other people and bad stuff happens, you know you learn from that and those people are the people that shape you and turn you into who you are.
I was actually going through something else at the time which was completely unrelated but it was going through my own struggle that really brought it home and gave me that grounding to feel like I could write that song.
Because of that the song turned into more than it originally was, when it was originally going to be a story about my mate. It turned into more of, ok this can relate to me now on a different level, and relate to other people as a more general message of coming out of something and taking the positives from it.
Do you have a favourite track on the new album 'Technology'?
That's really tough. I think once we actually start playing them all live that's when it will maybe solidify my favourite. Currently my favourite of the tracks that haven't been released is a song called 'Something to Drink'. It's the last track on the album and it's quite different for us a band.
I love it when we try something new and you hear it back and you think wow I didn't realise we were capable of that sort of song. The memory of writing it and how we came up with – I love the process that went into creating that song.
We had the initial idea for that song when we were writing our second album 'Automatic', and it was this random idea that we were jamming and sounded like a bit of a joke. I voice noted it on my phone and just randomly when we were writing this album I came across the voice note and thought, ok there's something in here, we could make this into something.
Having seen you guys in your early days, your fan base seems to have grown really rapidly. Did you ever think you'd go from supporting the likes of Bring Me The Horizon and You Me At Six, among others, to pulling in massive crowds at your own headline shows and selling out venues like Alexandra Palace?
I guess no. We always believed in ourselves and thought we had the potential but a place like Alexandra Palace that's so, for us, unbelievably massive, I don't think we ever thought that far ahead.
Doing support tours is such an amazing way of picking up new fans, probably our favourite way of doing it as well. Until you have that connection with the crowd and until someone's seen Don Broco live, that's when they really get the full picture. There's a lot going on with our band, probably too many ideas (laughs) that we just throw into the mix, and a load of songs that sound completely different, and it's only when you get the full picture that it gels and that it makes sense.
We always thought of Brixton Academy as the venue where big bands play and that was the bucket list venue that we thought 'wow we've made it'. So to be playing Alexandra Palace and venues like that is just crazy and it's quite hard to comprehend that level of people now.
We're just very grateful that people want to come and see us live.
After you've finished touring the new album, what's next for you all?
We have a two week break and then we are off to America. It will be our second time there which we are really excited for because the first time was insane. So it's basically going to be a lot of touring this record and getting to play a load of countries that we've been to once or twice and play a load of new ones hopefully as well.
Once the album is out and people have heard the rest of the songs as well it will be great to have a load more touring where we can play all the other songs that we wouldn't have played at that stage.
Was there anything else you'd like to mention?
We're back in Norwich on 12th February. The venue is just amazing; it's probably one of our favourites. We played one of our first ever gigs there. We might have just started calling ourselves Don Broco at that point or we might have been calling ourselves Club Sex. Simon our guitarist went to the UEA – he had a band that was part of the band society, or something like that.
He went to the UEA and the rest of us went to Nottingham, we got a gig in Nottingham and he got one in Norwich and we were super stoked. I think there were, because it was the band society, about 30 people in there or something. So you're playing this absolutely massive venue and there's no one in there, but I remember it being really cool.
We've got to come back since then and play it properly and it's been really good. Definitely one of our favourites.
Tickets for the show at The Nick Rayns LCR on February 12 are available from the UEA Box Office for £22 advance.
The new album 'Technology', due for release on February 2, is available for preorder from Don Broco's website.