DANKO JONES bassist John Calabrese recently took a few minutes to catch up with us here at Loaded Radio to fill us in on the new studio release that is “Power Trio”. You can listen to the full talk via the player below.
DANKO JONES, with two and a half decades, nine albums, countless international tours, and shared bills with legends like MOTORHEAD, GUNS N’ ROSES, and THE ROLLING STONES under their sweat-rusted belts—DANKO JONES have made the case again and again that there’s still plenty of life in rock ‘n’ roll’s rotting corpse.
“Power Trio”—it’s such a simple, self-evident title, but one loaded with significance, as it speaks to the special triangular alchemy Danko shares with his trusty bass-slinging accomplice JC and drummer Rich Knox, while also staking out the band’s place on a storied lineage of three-piece titans that includes the Jimi Hendrix Experience, ZZ TOP, RUSH, MOTORHEAD and VENOM, to name a few. When you choose to start a power trio, you’re not simply forming a band, you’re entering a blood pact—a tacit acknowledgement that all three members need to carry their equal share of the weight lest the whole enterprise collapse. There’s nowhere to hide in a power trio—no second guitarist to cover your mistakes, no keyboard player to smooth things over, no horn section to distract the crowd. If you fuck up, the whole band fucks up. Everybody needs to be on their A-game at all times, and on Power Trio, DANKO JONES are in peak physical condition, delivering each engine-revving riff, soul-shaking stomp, and shout-it-loud hook with a sniper’s precision.
Though it features no songs about viruses, hand sanitizer, or Dr. Fauci, Power Trio is nonetheless a product of the current global pandemic, and the corrosive public discourse it’s wrought. But more than simply wage war on the disinformation age via the seething anthem “Ship of Lies” (arguably the first topical song in the entire DANKO JONES canon), the whole album positively judders with the restless, bottled-up energy of a band that’s been cooped up for the past year after spending most of its lifetime out on the road. When Danko sings, “I wanna leave/ I want out!” on the rampaging opener “I Want Out,” you can practically picture him bouncing off the walls, rattling the cage doors, and bashing his head until it bleeds. Even the songs that focus on Danko’s most reliable source of happiness—women—are fuelled by a more heightened sense of mania: on the KISS-goes-Motown strutter “Good Lookin’,” he’s reduced to a blathering, tongue-tied mess by the girl of his dreams; the desperate “Dangerous Kiss” finds him on his knees pleading for another taste of his lover’s lips; and the cowbell-clanking, brass-knuckle boogie of “Blue Jean Denim Jumpsuit” approaches its casualwear queen with a fear and awe normally reserved for religious deities.
But what’s always made DANKO JONES so much more than just a band of black-clad brutes is that their horndog confessions aren’t about mere sexual conquests, but the search for true, everlasting love. “While everybody’s outside fighting” amid the power-chord roar of “Saturday,” Danko just wants to spend the evening curled up on the couch with his missus, whereas the pop-punked, Thin Lizzied prowler “Get to You” and the garage-punk blitz “Flaunt It” actually contain the sort of expressions of emotional support that only exist in the most committed relationships. Heck, with their romantic ride-or-die sentiments, the grunge crunch of “Let’s Rock Together” and AC/DC-meets-PIXIES power-pop punch of “Raise Some Hell” could practically work as wedding songs, assuming you skipped the traditional first dance in favour of starting a mosh pit.
Ironically, the last song on “Power Trio” is called “Start the Show,” which is essentially DANKO JONES’ answer to CHEAP TRICK’s signature salutation “Hello There”—i.e., a song tailormade to be the first song played at DANKO JONES shows forevermore because it’s about being the first song played at a DANKO JONES show. “Get me onstage because I’m ready to play, let’s start the show,” Danko declares, and like every great DANKO JONES song about his chosen vocation—”Play the Blues,” “Code of the Road,” “I Gotta Rock,” “I’m in a Band”—it’s a reaffirmation of everything he was put on this earth to do. But in the wake of this pandemic-plagued year, the song also makes for a surprisingly poignant album closer, because it’s a reminder of all the shows that Danko didn’t get to play this past year, and a reminder of how much we’ve all missed that goosebump-inducing feeling of being in a packed club when the house lights go down, the music playing over the PA cuts out, and your favourite power trio emerges from the darkness to kick into their opening tune. And yet despite this bittersweet subtext, “Start the Show” is brimming with the promise that we will experience that feeling once again—and, after the black cloud of COVID clears, Danko Jones will be there ready to give it to you (provided your vaccination records are all up to date).