Interview: Don Broco

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Sammie Caine caught up with Don Broco frontman Rob Damiani to chat about their upcoming December tour and the recording of their latest album, Automatic.

You psyched to hit the road and head back out on tour?

Yeah! It’s crazily close now… It kind of creeps up on you!

Are there any particular cities you’re looking forward to playing? The show at the O2 Academy Brixton is going to be your biggest show to date, right?

That’s definitely going to be the big one for us because it’s a huge venue. It’s the biggest show on the tour and the biggest we’ve ever played, so it’s the last one we’re doing which means it all sort of builds up. There’s a lot of pressure.

We’re really excited to play Manchester which is always incredible – on every tour we’ve been on, that has been a massive show for us. Leeds is another one that we’re super excited to get back to; it’s such a fun city. But there are loads of shows that we’re excited for!

It’s awesome seeing how you’ve progressed to larger venues over the years, but I’ve noticed that you’ve also been playing a few house parties…?

Yeah, that kind of just happened. It was on a bit of a whim! We’d never played house parties before and it came about through a drunken conversation with this lad after we’d done a DJ set down in Bristol. We got really excited about the idea and there were a lot of drunken conversations. But, when we woke up the next day and were all still excited to put it together, we just went and did it.

It’s such good fun. There’s something extremely exciting about putting an idea together and just acting on it and seeing what happens. There’s a lot of risk involved and a lot could go wrong, but, yeah…

Could you see yourself doing a couple more house parties in future?

I think so! I don’t know when we’ll next have the chance as a lot of the time our schedule is booked up with this and that going on. I’d like to think we’d do them again for a laugh because it was so much fun.

You’ve continued to grow with Automatic whilst keeping certain aspects that earlier fans fell in love with from Priorities. Was there a pressure to try and live up to that with this album? 

Ideally, yes. We loved Priorities; we were massively proud of it. A lot of people really connected with it, which is the dream. When you write an album you hope people are going to like it as much as you do, and when they do it’s amazing. So when it came to writing Automatic we definitely felt that pressure, not just from fans but from ourselves – about not wanting to rush it and do a half-arsed job.

We really enjoyed the diversity on Priorities and that’s something we pride ourselves on: that an album will not be the same song over and over again. It will take you on a bit of a journey; different songs will take you to different places or suit certain moods you’re in.

For Automatic we wanted to rediscover what it was that made us stand out as a group. I think from day one we’ve always wanted to establish ourselves as an original music act and not something that sounds like a load of other bands… We wanted to be something that sounds like itself. We really focused on that and what we thought made us stand out, whilst still writing great songs. Because, I mean, that’s what it always comes down to… If the vibe’s not there and it’s something you can’t party to or relate to, it’s not worth it.

With Automatic you’ve kind of got an underlying funk feel. Were there any particular influences that took you in that direction?

A huge influence for us is the Red Hot Chili Peppers – for a rock band to bring that much energy to arena venues… I don’t think there’s anyone that does it better than them.

In terms of that funky feel: we’d actually already written Priorities before Tom [Doyle] joined the band. Tom’s an incredible bass player – he’s got such an incredible feel for music. When it came to the drum and bass locking in, [he] really brought a new underlying groove that drives all the tracks.

You worked with Jason Perry on Automatic. How was that?

It was an amazing experience. He had such an incredible energy in the studio. He’s one of those guys that are open to a lot of ideas, which is great, because that’s how we function as a band. I think that’s how you come across new music and create new sounds: you’ve got to be able to push yourself outside your comfort zone.

When [Jason] first met us, he’d heard the demos and said “I don’t want to give you guys an easy time, I wanna push you”. He said we’d go back to being the Don Broco we wanted to be, but “if you don’t push yourselves as far out of the remit as you can, then you’ll never know how far you can go”. We took some songs in completely deranged directions.

Which track from Automatic are you most looking forward to performing during the upcoming tour?

I think it’s got to be ‘Nerve’, which we’ve actually just shot a video for. It was one that slid under the radar a little bit. We played it at a few shows in August and no one really knew the album at that point, but literally from the first show the reaction it was getting was insane. Obviously, as a band, that’s what fuels us. You can’t ignore a crowd singing every word back to you, and to get that reaction from an album track that had only been out a couple of days… That was amazing.

Don Broco are touring the UK in December, along with Coasts and Arcane Roots. Grab yourself a ticket to their show at the Ritz in Manchester on the 11th of December!

You can watch the brand new music video for ‘Nerve’ by Don Broco here:

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