During the production of third studio album Technology, U.K. industrial/modern rock group DON BROCO found themselves immersed in a tidal wave of success for almost all of 2017. Before their first ever United States tour next to pop-punk State Champs and Against the Current took off, they were in the studio with long-time friend and producer Dan Lancaster. Hearing the supreme set of finely crafted rock tracks from DON BROCO’s Technology in their perfect order is like witnessing one of the seven world wonders. From start to finish the sixteen tracks, each coated with a rare profoundness and foundation of electronic rhythm builds the Egyptian pyramids of modern rock albums, incomparable to any other group. As listeners progress through the album, each thick riff, alongside Rob Damani and Matt Donnelly’s deep, buttery vocals, shapes Technology into an impeccable demonstration of what DON BROCO and Dan Lancaster are capable of when paired together. Now under SharpTone Records and with such a satisfying tracklist, DON BROCO had the pleasure of slowly teasing fans by dropping five singles from the album prior to its release, ending in the growly, grand finale party song “Come Out To LA”. Upon the first listen of Technology it promptly presents as a masterpiece, with each lick carefully selected and placed, and we needed to see behind the magic curtain. Rob Damani lead us through what 2017 felt like for DON BROCO and Technology.
For those who haven’t heard any tracks from your upcoming record Technology, describe the overall sound from your perspective.
“I’d say it’s a very kind of dynamic record that brings in a load of different ideas and sounds and showcases our eclectic music tastes in the world of rock and modern pop music.”
So you guys have been working on Technology since this time last year and just recently finished it, what were some of your favorite moments of producing this particular record?
“Yeah, it’s been a strange a process in the way where we wrote it very, very quickly and basically was all within three months. We started last October and we found ourselves in an unrealistic challenge of trying to finish it before we went out for our first U.S. tour, which was last April with State Champs. We wanted to be finished and done for an end of summer album, as we’ve always done that with our last two releases, but we finished when we got back.
My favorite moments were the satisfaction of making songs work that were [made using missing pieces] from other songs. The process of writing it this time was so short, and sometimes we’d get stuck and couldn’t finish the song. We’d have that missing jigsaw piece and we were knocking our heads against the wall trying to find. I guess this was the first time we had all our computers with us, so we came prepared to the album sessions (laughs). It took me digging through my laptop just racking our brains when we’d run out of ideas and somehow we’d miraculously pull out a completely different song, that we thought was in the graveyard of unfinished song ideas and more often than not we found really incredible ideas from them. It gave the songs a lot of excitement for us, especially in the studio, where we would never have taken certain songs in a particular direction if those ideas hadn’t come in and that was really satisfying. It felt like nothing was going to waste, like all our ideas and us working on songs for days that wouldn’t go anywhere, but ended up being useful. That was really cool.”
Now that you’re gearing up for your February tour, you guys will be playing a brand new setlist. What songs are you most excited to perform live?
“I think definitely “Come Out to LA”. We’ve never played that song before live, obviously being the new single it’s the one that our fans are super excited to hear. It’s going go to down really well live, I think it’s more of that party song and we never tested or practiced it yet, we’re practicing it tomorrow and working on it as a live song and I think the excitement for that is the highest. It’s one of the best songs we’ve ever released, so to play that it would be really cool.”
For those like myself who are unfamiliar, can you speak on how U.K. tours are different from touring the States?
“Well, for one thing, they’re a hell of a lot shorter (laughs). That’s something we realized, but it didn’t quite hit home until we were in the States, how lucky we’ve got it in the U.K. You’ll do a full UK tour and it will take a week or two weeks and that’s about it, you get how few places there are in the U.K. So yeah when you come to the states and do a nationwide tour, you’re looking at a month or two minimum so it’s a completely different undertaking. Its like, you really gotta have the willpower and stamina to take on the U.S. tour. After doing that U.S. tour we’ve got so much respect for U.S. bands starting out. It is hard enough booking a tour in the U.K. by yourself in our genre, the only way you can do it is doing it yourself. You’re annoying people and begging to do shows and we found that tough in the U.K. but it’s a whole different story in the U.S. So the amount of admiration I got for U.S. bands that did it the hard way and built up their live following and just toured the hell out of the states to get to where they are is just incredible. It was an environment where we were like “shit, we got away with being a band from the U.K., but at least in the U.K. we had a leg up in the perspective of being able to tour everywhere in 3 or 4 weeks.”
What has been the most difficult situation DON BROCO has found themselves in while on tour?
“There’s been times where we were completely stranded without anywhere to stay. In the early days, we bought a van to sleep in and it wasn’t like vans you’ve got in the U.S. It’s a van that isn’t cut out for beds but we did our best and slept in it about 4 times before we just gave up (laughs). The condensation would just wake you up when you’ve got 6 or 7 guys in a van and you’re all breathing in it and you wake up in the middle of the nights and your breath is causing condensation on the roof of the van and everyone’s sweat and breathing dripping on your face. So after that, we said if anyone could put us up at a show we’ll take it from there and more often than not it worked out okay, but sometimes it didn’t and we’d drive miles to a completely different part of the country to stay out at a friends house. The hardest thing we had to do as a band logistically was we were doing a load of house parties and the guy’s mum found out he was gonna throw this house party we were playing and I guess just went mental on him and was like “the police are gonna come down, you’ll get a record” and you know, really putting the fear of God in him. So he called us up and was like “guys, I’m really really sorry…” and you could tell he felt lame because his mum said no (laughs), it just doesn’t sound cool. But we put out a tweet and managed to find another house party to play a few hours away in a different city, but we didn’t have any equipment there or anything, so we had to bring round like 20 different people to put together a show before it was getting too late. It was amazing, one of the best shows we’ve ever done. When you’re in trouble and you overcome it, it’s very satisfying.”
Any tips for bands touring the U.K. for the first time?
“I’d say one thing we’ve got in the U.K. that I didn’t see in the States are called Travelodges which are just cheap hotels, and they’re the bread and better of touring when you’re not on a tour bus or bandwagon. The most important thing is just getting your sleep, so my main advice, which is quite boring, but stay as organized as possible by booking them weeks or months in advance and you can get them super cheap and you get to have a good night sleep and they’re very comfy. We only started appreciating them when we started touring overseas like in Europe, having to deal with getting freaked out by creepy hotel receptionists or they list the wrong prices and you have to drive somewhere else, and just a lot of effort. So just be organized and book those Travelodges up. Maybe the next time we use them we’ll get a discount! (laughs)”
Which venue are you most excited to play new songs from Technology?
“If we’re talking the U.S., one of my favorite shows was at Irving Plaza in New York, that was really awesome. The crowd and energy and just a cool building, with loads of awesome things around us. In the U.K., we played Brixton Academy and I thought we couldn’t top that, and then we managed to play Alexander Palace which was insane. I guess the next step is the arenas.The first big show I ever went to was Foo Fighters at Wembley Stadium so as something that’s the bucket list moment would be able to go on stage and say “HELLO WEMBLEY!” That would be amazing to do one day.”
The title “Technology” speaks to the age of social media and its pitfalls, what are some of your favorite things that involve no technology at all?
“I mean, this might sound really basic but, only because I had to run to the gym when I usually drive and one thing that really hit me, it’s kind of wet here in the UK and it’s cold with a post-Christmas wintery feel to the air, and I smelled this smell that I haven’t smelled in years of wet grass and mud. And it really just reminded me of playing sports as a kid, where you’re playing in the garden just running around like an idiot. I’m a big fan of exercise and it is definitely something for me that kind of calms me down. I’m more relaxed when I’m able to be active and when it’s a time when I cant go outside or go to the gym, I don’t even realize it but I get stressed. So this smell that I got outside was like “WOW! Running outside in fresh air is amazing!” (laughs). Hopefully, that will make me do that more because I’ve been quite lazy this year.”
You’ve worked with producer Dan Lancaster in some way for all your records, what does he bring to DON BROCO’s sound versus any other producer?
“Dan’s the only person we’ve worked with for all three albums and you know, what we love about Dan is he has an ear for the stuff we might not notice ourselves. He’s the silent fifth member in some regards. He’s got this amazing talent for hearing sounds and songs as a whole piece, which sounds vague but it speaks to him as a mixer and a producer. There are things that might not necessarily be obvious in the building blocks in a song. He’ll notice there’s something within the soundscape that’s missing or could do with a tweak here or there. Stuff we never think of when discussing ourselves, which leads to other things, and were really good at bouncing ideas off each other, so that’s the best thing about it. He will hear something, suggest something, and even if it doesn’t work it will always lead to something better. You keep going back and forth until you end with what you came with, just a way better and far more interesting version of it. Overall I’d say he’s one of the most talented, creative people that we’ve ever met or worked with and we’re very grateful we’ve known him for such a long time. It’s a really good relationship to have. The longer we’ve worked together, the more comfortable we are with each other and it opens us up to a lot of possibilities in songwriting”
Which song off Technology is the most special to you?
“I’d say “Something to Drink” is kind of the most special and important one to me. I always enjoy the songs that don’t sound like they fit on an album, like the wildcards that bring a different flavor or texture. That’s a song we started writing back when we were doing our last album and we were messing around in the studio just recording these basic, joke lyrics and guitar parts off the back of another song, and just started jamming and it was unlike anything we had done before. It was all just a bit of a joke at the time and we recorded it on our phone and I remember thinking “there’s something magical about this, there’s definitely some value here” and I think I was just really happy that I remembered I had this voice note when we were writing the album. I brought it up and it kind of kept getting lost and I didn’t think it would become a song but it came together really quickly as a band, like in a day or two days. And during the lyrics stage, which normally comes a little later, it was just a song that summed up the feelings I was going through at that time from the end of the year, where the world was in a strange place, the people who died, friends of mine as well as famous deaths. It’s more of a feeling than a specific song or story I was writing, but whenever I write songs out of my comfort zone, I can think back and feel like I pushed myself on, different than the normal DON BROCO lyrical process.”
What bands are you most excited to share the SharpTone Records label with?
“Its funny, what’s crazy about being with SharpTone is that there are very, heavy bands (laughs), but one band would be We Came As Romans, if anything could ever work out with them that would be cool. Hopefully this summer there will be festivals and stuff, and the U.K. is getting their festival circuit down so we might be able to play with bands that people don’t normally expect you to play with. I can’t wait for that to start.”