Don Broco’s heady concoction of punchy rock drama, frustratingly funky basslines and sharp style has won the band a legion of fans – including the cast of Channel 4’s Made in Chelsea – that is set to grow with the release of their new album. We caught up with drummer Matt Donnelly to discuss table etiquette, strong jawlines and beard contraband.
Hi Matt – ‘Automatic’ [the band’s new album] is out August 7. How has your sound developed from debut album ‘Priorities?’
We definitely went into ‘Automatic’ with an ‘anything goes’ mentality. This album marks the first time we’ve worked together as a four piece. Tom [Doyle, bass] joined after ‘Priorities’ was finished, but he was part of the touring cycle for that record. We love bands that are brave and try new areas, so we took a little extra time on the album to achieve that. We’ve definitely explored our musicianship and different sounds. However, once it’s distilled down it still has that Don Broco sound that people hopefully love.
What impact did Tom have on the recording process?
He’s had a significant impact! (Laughs) Tom is the most classically trained musician, whilst the rest of us are mostly self-taught – we’re very ‘trial and error.’ Tom’s very good at working with music technology and synths, so he’s encouraged us to dabble more in those things. For the last album, we actually remixed our own songs under the moniker of ‘Club Sex’, which was a really old band name of ours. So, we’d already started to dip our toe in that more electronic sound, but Tom’s really helped us to take that forward. He an amazing bass player, and you can really hear his influence on ‘Automatic’ and ‘You Wanna Know.’
Maybe you should write Tom a dating profile. You’ve really sold him to us…
(Laughs) Absolutely. He’s a good egg our Tommy!
Rob [Damiani, lead singer] has said the new album is more personal. Were any of the tracks difficult to write?
Lyrically, Rob takes that burden on as he tends to write a song almost in its entirety. As a band, we discuss topic and general ideas, but Rob does the real nitty gritty of the writing. On the last album, Rob did a lot of storytelling by putting himself in other people’s shoes. He wrote about situations that happened to friends and things like that. Since then,we’ve grown a little older, been part of the music industry for a few years and toured as a band, so Rob has drawn upon that. I’d actually say it’s a little more optimistic than the last record. ‘Priorities’ had a lot of upbeat-sounding songs, but the lyrics were full of cynicism.
The video for new single ‘Superlove’ features some questionable dinner guests. Who has the worst table manners in the band?
Urgh… he won’t thank me for saying this, but probably Rob! His table manners aren’t bad,but he loves his food, as we all do! Rob will finish stuff on your plate if you don’t, which I guess is not normal etiquette. (Laughs) He’s a bit of a messy eater too, but that’s because he’s focused on the task at hand, which is getting the food in him!
Maybe he needs the food for songwriting inspiration…
Yeah! He needs that fuel…
The track received its TV debut on Made in Chelsea. Sartorially speaking, the band definitely has what it takes to keep up with the show’s cast. However, do you think Don Broco would make for an interesting reality TV show?
(Laughs) That’s a really good question! I’d say yes and no. Undoubtedly, with our job there are really exciting times – especially when we’re on tour and playing festivals overseas. I think a snapshot of that would be interesting, but there is also a lot of downtime in band life. It wouldn’t be fantastically interesting to watch us record an album, as that process can be quite methodical and slow. If a camera crew could follow us for a year and then edit it down to the best bits that would be pretty interesting though!
Maybe a Discovery Channel documentary on Rob’s eating habits would work?
You’ve got a seven day headline tour starting at Esquires in Bedford on August 06. Describe the Don Broco gig experience in three words?
The first word is definitely sweaty. We’re going back to playing some of the first venues we played. Esquires is our hometown venue, and the first placed we ever performed in, so we’re excited to be there when the album is released. We’ll play the show, and then at midnight our merch table will be the first place where you can purchase the CD – even those without a ticket for the show can come hang out, get a CD signed and celebrate with us! The second is energetic, which goes hand in hand with sweaty. People always say that what attracted them to seeing us live is that they can see how much we enjoy it. There’s a beautiful synergy between our energy and the crowd’s. The third is quite a wildcard because we can’t guarantee it, but I would say romantic. We know quite a few people who started relationships after meeting at our shows. In fact, somebody tweeted us to say he was upset he couldn’t make a date on the tour because he was marrying a girl he met at a Broco show, which is kind of crazy! Love is in the air sometimes…
If it’s going to be sweaty, energetic and romantic maybe people need to bring wetwipes or something?
Urgh mate! (Laughs) Yeah, well come prepared….
Which of the new songs are you most looking forward to playing live?
We’ve been playing ‘Automatic’ and ‘Superlove’ for a while now, and people really enjoy them! I’m really excited to play ‘I Got Sick,’ which was one of the earliest initial ideas we had, but the last song we finished before starting to record. It’s one of those tracks that we truly tried to do something we’d never done before, and nailed it I think. It’s driven by this thumping drum beat, so I can’t wait to get stuck into how we re-produce that sound live.
Finally, everybody in the band seems to have an inexplicably strong jawline. Is that some sort of pre-requisite for joining?
(Laughs) Yeah – that’s how we filter people out. There’s quite a few weird similarities between us – all of our surnames begin with D. I swear there is no joining criteria, it’s all a coincidence!
What’s the purpose of Simon’s [Delaney, guitar] beard then?Is he hiding contraband in it?
I don’t know to be honest with you! He was throwing out the beard thing for a while, but he kept saying it was too itchy. On one beautiful day, he finally reached the point where he got past that. He’s into beard oils now, so he’s rocking a strong look.If he’s hiding contraband in it, I have to tell you I haven’t seen it, but that’s for legal purposes (laughs)…
Don Broco’s new album ‘Automatic’ is out August 7th via Epic Records. The band’s headline tour starts August 6th at Esquires, Bedford. Tickets can be found at: http://www.donbroco.com/
By Thomas O’Connell