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Interview: Don Broco

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The wait is almost over, Don Broco are set to make a triumphant return this summer with the release of their second album, Automatic.

Don Broco

The success of Don Broco’s debut album, Priorities, saw the four-piece’s fanbase burgeon from a cult following to legions of loyal supporters.

With Automatic bound for launch on 9th August, the lads from Bedford are all set to conquer yet again with their unique blend of funky grooves and anthemic choruses that have become synonymous with their signature swagger.

Before diving into serious discussions about the new album I posed a few quick questions to get inside the mind of frontman and lead vocalist, Rob Damiani.

1. Who is your Superlove

Who is my superlove? I think that’s the actress Margot Robbie, I’m a bit obsessed with her at the moment

2. Name your top three Arnold Schwarzenegger films

Oh wow. I think it’s got to be Eraser, Predator, and Jingle All The Way

3. Do you drive manual or automatic

Automatic, my first car was actually automatic, which was a bit of a cheat, a bit of a cop-out.

4. What are your favorite exotic fruits and delicious treats

Mango counts as an exotic fruit, and that is my favorite fruit hands down, and delicious treats would be Malteasers.

5. What is the essential exercise in a thug workout?

It’s got to be the press up.

6. What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

Good question, probably the skydive I did the other day. Me and Matt (Donnelly - drums and vocals) did a skydive for teenage cancer trust, and it’ very high risk, high reward, because you’re jumping out of a plane. It’s not what humans are built to do, but the reward or earning all that money for charity and the thrill it gives you is pretty incredible. That felt risky to me.

7. What’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on?

I haven’t done this myself, but I was watching some videos the other day of some people zorbing. There were a couple of ones at this zorb park where they were running down a hill, it sort of looked like Indiana Jones, and they were getting chased down by these massive zorbs and it looked unreal. I thought that looked like the most fun you could ever have.

Aside from having fun, clothes on or off, Don Broco have spent a lot of time hard at work on their second album, Automatic. Rob explained the approach that he, along with guitarist Simon Delaney, bassist Tom Doyle, and drummer Matt Donnelly, took to the new record.

“We wanted to work out what we liked about the songs and the songwriting and everything that made our band stand out and feel different from all the other millions of bands out there in the world and basically focus on that and develop on it.”

Don Broco are well-known for their punchy sing-along choruses, and this time around they were the priority: “When it came to songwriting we really focused on big hooks, big choruses and getting rid of all the chaff that you sometimes listen to in a song. We just want boom, boom, boom, keep it killer; no filler.”

Aptly put: when catchy little phrases like that come so easily to him, Rob makes it all sound so simple.

Automatic has seen all four of the Don Broco boys develop their sound in new ways. In the studio, Grammy-award-winning producer, Jason Perry, has proven to be a catalyst of sorts, identifying and drawing out the essence of the influences that have stuck with lads since their very first demos.

“We wanted a more varied album where you didn’t have to rely on the guitars at every point. We’re a guitar band, we’re a rock band, but we wanted to experiment into using a few more interesting sounds. We’ve got a few strings on the record, we’ve definitely got a lot more electronics and keyboard. I think you get a lot more dynamics within the tunes when you allow yourself to do that.”

Starting off in their hometown of Bedford, on the eve of their album launch, the Don Broco boys will begin a short spate of gigs across the country playing a number of the smaller, more intimate venues that they frequented in the bands infancy. Rob explained a little bit more about what fans can expect to hear at the shows.

“We’re definitely going to be playing a few new songs that we’ve never played before from Automatic. It’s interesting seeing those new facets, how they go down live. We’re going to be playing a few tunes from Priorities as well, as we still love the old songs. We never want to be one of those bands that completely ignores all the classics, the songs people want to hear. It’s just going to be a crazy, crazy show because they’re at a lot of small venues that we haven’t played in a long, long time.

Touring can provide a fertile proving ground for tracks, and Don Broco could not have had a better opportunity to road test their latest material, having headlined the Kerrang Tour earlier this year.

“We’d recorded all of them by that point. As finished songs they’re different, but you always develop things, when you’re playing songs we always find different ways of playing them live. On the Kerrang Tour we did 'Superlove', gave it its first trail, 'Automatic' and 'Fire'. Those were three new ones that we played on that, and you just work out cool interesting different ways to play them, or sing them. You can afford to try new things out live and give that live show a little something extra. When we were doing it on the Kerrang tour we realized ‘oh cool we were doing it this way’, and it just sounded ‘bigger’ live. That was fun.

With the start of their album tour on 6th August fast approaching, Rob detailed what he was looking forward to the most about getting back out on the road.

“I think getting to go to a lot of these towns we’ve haven’t been to for a long long time. We’re going back to Colchester which is this town which we literally felt like we used to play every other week back when we started, four years ago, five years ago.”

Yet touring can be intensive and inevitably can come with its drawbacks…

“I’m slightly dreading it because of my little brother. He’s going to be joining us on the road and doing our merch, because he’s up for having a bit of a laugh. We were really looking forward to it and talking about all the fun we were going to have and started talking about all the logistics of getting everything there with us. Basically my brother couldn’t be bothered to do all the hard work part of counting it and doing all that and in the process invited mum along too. Now my mum’s going to be striking out on tour with us. Me and my brother. She comes to the occasional show, but she’s never really seen the inner workings of a band on tour. So I’m kind of worried what exactly she will witness.”

As for the city with the best crowds in the country, Rob admitsThat’s a tough one. It really depends on the tour. I think it’s fair to say that, pretty consistently, Manchester has been amazing the past few years. The crowds there have been wicked: it’s a great city, a great student town, and a great city to go out party in afterwards. There are so many good places, it’s really hard to narrow it down.

Don Broco’s consistent touring has helped cultivate a devoted following since their early beginnings. They will be rounding off their short burst of gigs this August with an appearance at Reading festival for their fifth year in a row. The boys’ ascent to the big time is illustrated perfectly by their history at the festival, rising from the BBC Introducing stage, to the festival’s main stage in 2013. As we reminisce on some of Don Broco’s most memorable sets at the festival, it’s clear to see how instrumental the fans have been in Don Broco’s success.

“The first time we got to play actually, is really up there with those memories you never really forget. We were playing the BBC introducing stage, which you mentioned, we didn’t really know what to expect. It’s a tiny stage, it’s not a tent. There’s just space out there so you have no idea who’s going to turn up, or who’s going to stick around to watch you. We had this pretty sizable crowd that we came on to, which we were amazed by. You could see as the set progressed more and more people flocked and came to it and by the end we were playing to this ridiculous crowd, standing as far back as you could see. We all left that show feeling pretty freaking amazing. We normally mess up or someone screws up. If someone has a bad show it really ruins it for the rest of us because they’re bringing everyone else down afterwards. I remember that festival set we all came off going like ‘wow we all smashed that’, and the crowd were just incredible.

Whilst some bands may be intimidated by such a crowd, Don Broco take in their stride. Flanked by Tom and Simon bouncing away with their guitars, Rob is in his element as he struts his stuff on stage. To say that Don Broco are energetic is an understatement.

“I have learned to warm up before you go out. Say you’ve been on in a rush and gone on cold, you’re going to be aching for a couple of days. So I’ve got some back warm ups, some leg stretches, your classic before football at school warm ups your teacher would give you. I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’ll try and touch my toes, I haven’t been able to for a couple of years but at least make the effort to try and do that.”

A rigorous warm-up is probably advisable as antics at a Don Broco gig often exceed the standard affair, ranging from press-up competitions to games of badminton played in the crowd. Drawing on this apparent competitive streak I tasked Rob with putting together a dream team of competitors who would be able to take on Don Broco in a good natured, hypothetical, all-star battle royale, sheerly for entertainment value. Deciding upon four worthy opponents for a solid crowd pleaser of a fight was no easy task, but Rob had a few names in mind.

“If we were fighting someone we don’t want them to be too tough. Bruno Mars is pretty small.”

Careful not to instigate a real tussle, Rob added “We love Bruno though, so we wouldn’t want to hurt him, just play fight.”

In the end, the final foursome is quite an eccentric mix of combatants.

“I was going to say Randy Orton so he could RKO us and that would be quite entertaining. Andy Murray because he’s still quite hate-able, though I do like him, he’s a great player. Jeremy Kyle, just because everyone hates Jeremy Kyle and we could all gang up on him. And Bruno Mars because he’s small.”

 

Don Broco release their second album, Automatic on 7th August via Epic Records.




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