Interview – Rob Damiani of Don Broco

Dreams only happen when you are sleeping, right? No! Those who take their lives and aspirations into their own hands can in fact make their dreams come true through hard work and determination. England’s Don Broco has been sticking by that motto for a decade now, initially forming back in 2008, spending years to work on academics, and then picking right back up again with their passion project. Amusing enough, the project slowly transformed into a fun gig between friends to something vastly more, Don Broco became a successful Rock band!

Breaking into the UK album charts with both their 2012 debut album, Priorities, and follow-up, 2015’s Automatic, Don Broco are now set to take on the world with their worldwide deal with SharpTone Records. An exciting time for the band, they prepare to unleash their third album, Technology, on February 2nd to all four corners of the planet prior to embarking on a North American tour come March. Eager to make an impact, brace yourself, because here comes Don Broco! Recently we caught up with Lead Vocalist Rob Damiani to talk the beginnings of Don Broco, growing as musicians, the writing process for Technology, coming to the USA, plus much more. –  Don Broco has been together for a decade now, and, in that time, the band has released 2 successful records in the UK, toured extensively, and built a strong following. First, tell us, what has the ride been like thus far with the band?    

Rob Damiani – It has been a kind of interesting process for us. It is crazy when you mention how long we have been together as a band. To think that it could have been 10 years, it just seems mental to us! (Laughs) It started out for a bit of fun, we were friends from school, we were just friends who played together. We loved playing and writing music, it was never a serious thing, but it was something we would love to have done. We took a break for a few years when we went to school, it was only really after that we kind of got together and thought, “Let’s give it a go and just see what happens.” It was our dream job, but we were very realistic though. We even knew back then not everyone can obviously do this. It is all down to a lot of luck and timing, but we just thought, “Let’s give it a go!” We did and it just never finished. (Laughs)

Every year we made more fans, got to play bigger shows, and I guess the longer you do something the more of a taste you get for it and the further you want to take it. Year after year we kept getting bigger as a band. We kept releasing more music and getting that buzz from releasing EPS or albums – it is a increible and addictive feeling to hear people enjoying music and singing it back to you at shows. It progressed from there, we signed our first record deal with Sony Records, released a few albums with them, and carried on touring. Now we are in a place where we are signed to an American label with a worldwide deal and now will tour the world!

It has been an incredible journey, but a steady one. It has obviously taken a long time for us. Putting in the time of booking your own shows, playing small rooms, to larger rooms, to arenas now. It has been a bit of an adventure, there have been times where it has been tough. I am sure every band will tell you there are moments where you think, “What the hell are we doing? What the hell are we doing with our lives?” (Laughs) Obviously, so far in our career, the highs have massively outweighed the lows. We are just so excited to be putting out a third album and putting it out in a load of countries. Getting it in The States, which is every band’s dream to get to play in America, especially a band like us where many of our favorite bands come from America. It is going to be great putting the album out! 

Sony Music – It sounds like it has been a fun ride. The band is set to return with your new album, Technology, on February 2nd. Perhaps the band’s most diverse record to date, what was the writing and recording process like this time around?

Rob Damiani – It was a very diverse album to record as well. It was quite haphazard – a little bit here and a little bit there. We recorded a lot of it just at home demoing stuff. When we actually took it into the studio we thought, “Well the demo sounds fine. Let’s just leave that there and flesh around the different ideas and guitar tones or whatever.” Even the recording process was a very mish-mashed process. We did it over a few months. We started out in a proper studio where we kind of rush wrote the album and recorded it as we were going. It was very much a work in progress.

We wanted to finish the album before our first US tour, that was our plan. We basically finished recording it, but the extra 10% to 20% of the real magic and realizing the ideas didn’t come until after. Any moment we had in between touring, because we didn’t stop gigging last year, we just found the time to finish it off. We were doing a lot of festivals in Europe, and by the end of the process, we were really happy to finish. We were basically working on it a couple of days of the week before having to haul off to France, Germany, or Spain. They are amazing, incredible places, but the amount of driving you have to do for one show, it was just crazy! We would get all the way back, get a few more days in the studio, and go back to festivals.

Over the last year it was really a haphazard approach. I think that kept it fresh and exciting for us. Toward the end of the album process where you have been in a room with the same guys for months on end you can go a little bit crazy. Playing the live shows kept it exciting for us. It reminded us what it is all about, playing gigs is what we love to do, it is our favorite thing about being in a band. I think being able to do that while we were writing the album influenced it in a sense. We would be questioning, “How is this going to sound live?” We would ask, “What is going to get the people going? What is going to get us going and feeling good on stage?” It ended up being the real backbone of the record – that live, fun kind of sound. 

Sony Music
Epic – It certainly translated into the recording. That is a good practice to keep things fresh too. There seems to be a theme laced throughout the album with songs such as the title-track “Technology,” “Stay Ignorant,” and “Come Out To LA.” We are living in pretty wild times socially as well as politically. Did all this weigh in to the concept behind the songs and album?

Rob Damiani – Yes, I think this is the first time I really have talked about how I am feeling in regards to the world around us today and the political climate. Trying to work it out in my own head. I don’t know if it is just I am getting older or I am more aware of what is going on? Or am I maturing as a songwriter? Maybe it a combination of those things, plus the fact the world seems so out of the ordinarily fucked at the moment. That seems to be a general consensus, so it is not just me. When you do feel like that, it just comes out naturally in the songs you are writing.

I am not setting out with a political agenda but more just my take on particular situations that I found myself in – things I never necessarily thought about. When you see some of the injustices going on around the world, the power shift, and the way people are acting toward one another, it is a bit of a wake up call. I think before we started writing this album, I know I personally thought a lot more of people, I thought a lot more of the world. Maybe my dreams of humanity being overall in a very good place when I was a kid growing up, over the last few years, I thought, “Ok, maybe these things are not quite as rosy as they seem to be.” I wouldn’t say the album is particularly about that, but there is definitely an awareness in a number of a songs that touch on topics that I hadn’t done before. – It is evident and works well. It is not shoving an agenda down anyone’s throat, but it comes across more of raising self awareness of all our flaws. It seems people have lost self awareness. 

Rob Damiani – Yes, I agree with that. One of the songs, “Pretty,” is a very complicated sort of song. It is something I wasn’t sure if I could even talk about because it is quite a delicate topic. That is the first song I wrote that I even address the existence of the racism within our music. It is a very personal story and a very strange topic. I remember the moment clearly where I was in a situation talking to someone where I thought you could be the first slightly dubious and xenophobic language being used. It was a situation where I remember thinking this is so crazy what I am going through and I had never been in that situation before. I never been aware of it in my daily life. I remember then and there thinking I have to write a song about this. It was such a strange situation to find myself in. In that particular song, I thought that people need to know about this, even if it is a slightly awkward thing to talk about. 

SharpTone Records – It is interesting how negative and positive experiences can influence your creativity. Last question. On CrypticRock, we cover both music as well as movies, particularly Horror and Sci-Fi. If you are a fan of those genres, do you have any favorites? 

Rob Damiani – Yes, big time! I would say my love of Horror is actually a new thing, I used to be so afraid of Horror movies. (Laughs) I think I went through a phase as a kid where I shouldn’t be watching them, and if my parents knew, they probably would have freaked out. I just loved all the classic – Halloween and the Friday the 13th films. All the ’80s Slashers like A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). I think the one that kind of put off was Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994). It kind of blends the reality of what was going on and the plot. To have that kind of mish-mash of not knowing where you stand, talking about it, and the actors playing themselves, as a kid, it just freaked me out! I stopped watching for a few years until my recent girlfriend, who loves Horror, and we started watching them again.

As far as Sci-Fi, I have always loved. Blade Runner (1982) is a classic. I really loved the new one, Blade Runner 2049 (2017), as well. I thought they really did well paying homage to the original. All the ’80s movies I love! The classics very much influenced our latest music video for “Come Out To LA,” films like The Terminator (1984) and Robocop (1987). All the oldies really. My dad raised me on classic Sci-Fi. That is probably where my main love of cinema comes from.

Paramount Pictures
New Line Cinema

March 8 – San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s
March 10 – Portland, OR @ The Hawthorne Theatre
March 11 – Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
March 13 – Salt Lake City, UT @ In The Venue
March 14 – Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
March 16 – Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
March 17 – St. Louis, MO @ Firebird
March 18 – Pontiac, MI @ The Crofoot
March 20 – Toronto, ON @ Mod Club
March 21 – Montreal, QC @ Corona Theatre
March 22 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
March 23 – Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage
March 24 – Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
March 25 – Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
March 27 – Richmond, VA @ Canal Club
March 28 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
March 29 – Nashville, TN @ Rocketown
March 30 – Atlanta, GA @ Heaven at The Masquerade
March 31 – Orlando, FL @ The Beacham
April 2 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
April 3 – Dallas, TX @ RBC
April 4 – San Antonio, TX @ Alamo City Music Hall
April 6 – Mesa, AZ @ Club Red
April 7 – Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom

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