It goes without saying that it has been a phenomenal twelve months for one of the UK’s most up and coming acts; the one and only Don Broco. Their list of achievements is seemingly endless: having bagged a Top Ten spot in the mid-week Album Chart with début full-length ‘Priorities,’not to mention the hype of their upcoming tour which, since the interview, has now sold out.
With so much more ahead of them, we caught up with front man Rob Damiani to chat about the tour, festivals, ‘Priorities,’the “Broco walk” and who he thinks out of the band would last the longest in a push up contest; read on to find out!
Already Heard: Firstly, congratulations on your headline ‘Priorities’ tour being so close to selling out! Your Underworld date sold out within minutes and your added Koko date in April has also sold out; when the idea of adding the extra London date was discussed and especially in such a prestigious venue as Koko, what were your first feelings?
Rob: (laughs) Well at first you know, we thought can we really do this, can we pull this off? I mean Koko is probably one of our favourite venues: we got to play there earlier last year supporting Four Year Strong and it was probably one of the highlights of last year gig wise for us; so when the idea came up we thought straight away that would be amazing let’s do it! When it had been discussed last year obviously it’s booked for April, it’s quite a way of so we were confident we could do it but you know we were still kind of excited and nervous; but then when it pretty much sold out in the first day we were just amazed so we definitely made the right decision!
AH: You head out to play in February and then again in April, what is your top tip for being out on the road?
Rob: Erm, I would say keep busy because when you’re doing long tours like this it can get quite boring in the van and you can start winding each other up which isn’t always the best idea! Luckily we all get on pretty well but this is going to be the first time that we have an actual crew with us; so you know before it was pretty much just us with one or two mates acting as sound guy or whatever, but this time we’ve got a proper tour manager and tech and stuff so it’s going to be a full van for the first time which is going to be interesting, because we don’t have the biggest van so it’s going to be a little bit of a squeeze! Last tour we did, the hit of the tour was iPad Monopoly; it just really kicked things off I don’t know why, we got really addicted to it and it definitely kept us busy!
AH: We can imagine you must need a lot of things to keep you busy travelling such long distances!
Rob: Yeah I mean when we were actually writing ‘Priorities’ [the album] we had just the four of us in the van so we had space behind in the back, so we actually wrote the album while we were touring; but this time there’s just no way we can fit anything in. We put more seats into the van so it’s all going to be really squashed in the back, so we’re going to have to find alternative ways to keep us interested!
AH: Good luck with that! We’re slowly edging towards festival season now and it’s all kicking off with brand new Radstock, with it being in its first year what are your expectations for the festival?
Rob: I guess even though it’s the first year expectations are high in a way; we always have absolutely insane shows in Liverpool. The last two, three years actually we’ve been lucky enough to play Liverpool Sound City Festival which has always been amazing and Hub Festival which is more sort of catered to rock acts; Young Guns played it, The Blackout did, We Are The Ocean and it was an insane line-up. I see this as taking place over that, I mean we know the venue well; the other bands are all great; it’ll be a sick show. In fact we haven’t played a show there in a while now so it’s going to make it even more special!
AH: You played Rock City Basement at Hit The Deck Festival last year and you’re headlining the festival this year; how does it feel to be asked back yet again and for this year to have moved so far up the line-up?
Rob: Yeah, amazing; last year I’d say it was one of the highlights of the year because it was sort of one of the first festivals to kick things off really, now it’s Radstock and Hit The Deck so yeah it’s amazing. When we got the offer we were beyond happy you know, it was a crazy gig last time, the room was completely packed out and people were queuing up to get in the basement; I mean it isn’t the biggest of rooms! So to get invited to go back and be in the main room headlining is just going to be insane. We got to play it on the last tour we did: we supported Billy Talent and that was our first taste of playing the big room in Rock City and we loved it! It was one of our favourite shows of the tour and well, Nottingham is pretty special because me and Matt [drummer] went to Uni there so every week we’d be at Rock City you know, for one of their club nights or to see our favourite bands because it’s such a hot spot for touring so we’re massively stoked about that!
AH: While we’re on the subject of live shows it would be rude not to bring up your on-stage routines including the well known Broco walk; how did that all come about and who invented the “Broco walk”?
Rob: (Laughs) Well we actually kind of argue about that amongst ourselves who came up with it! It’s all a bit of a blur now because it basically started as a joke in practice and we’re big fans of Prince. If you’ve watched the ‘Purple Rain’ movie, they’ve got sick moves and the rival band in the movie they’re the winners when it comes to dance moves on stage. So we were into that and it was actually a couple of weeks before I think that we’d gone to see Bruno Mars’ live show, he had like a one off in London. We weren’t really Bruno Mars fans before but we got invited to it and we went and we were just blown away by the live show and they’ve got some sick moves as well; it just got us thinking in practice, laughing about having a joke and yeah that was one of the moves that came out of it. We thought we’d try it out once at a local show for a laugh but it actually turned out well; it was actually the first time we’d ever played ‘Priorities’ as well and the crowd went absolutely mental so we thought right, we’re onto something and it’s stayed in the live show ever since!
AH: Arguably one of the most well received songs when you perform live has to be ‘Thug Workout’ where fans take to the floor to partake in push ups. You’re always encouraging those brave enough to do as many as they can, but if the four of you were asked to do it yourselves who would last the longest?
Rob: Ooh that’s a toughie! Erm I think if it’s between us four, I’m probably going to get told off by Tom for this because it’s not nice being knocked out of the race that early, but I think Tom ( Doyle – Bass) would be out there because he’s quite lazy when it comes to the gym! Me, Simon (Delaney – Guitar) and Matt (Donnelly – Drums) I’d say it’d all be pretty even. I’ve just been on a little holiday and I’ve come back and asked Matt what he’s been up to and he’s been hitting the gym every day so he’s in really good shape at the moment, so I’d probably put my money on Matt! Plus he’s a drummer as well; I guess it depends on whether it was before or after the show. If we have a competition can we do it after the show, and then I’ll have a bit more of a chance than Matt because he’d be tired after drumming?
AH: We reckon so! Your record ‘Big Fat Smile’ saw you edging towards big things and then ‘Priorities’ was released and it’s arguably at that point when Don Broco really hit it off. How would you say your sound has progressed from ‘Big Fat Smile’ to ‘Priorities’?
Rob: I’d say it’s a lot more thought out in the sense that with Big Fat Smile the tracks pretty much entered the studio as they were and we didn’t really mess with them at all. With ‘Priorities’ it all came about pretty quickly, probably quicker than ‘Big Fat Smile’ actually because we sort of messed around and it took us a while to get that out, because we were too busy touring and didn’t actually get down to writing songs. ‘Priorities’ was written really quickly but once we actually got in the studio we’d given ourselves like a week of messing around with different instrumentation and trying things differently and reworking the songs. So I guess it’s broader in musical terms because we got to try out different techniques with recording and all the songs have definitely got their own vibe; the production on them is all quite different which is nice and gives a lot of variation on the album and obviously with more tracks to work, with we got to cover more ground musically and lyrically so it’s definitely a bigger selling record!
AH: In terms of recent achievements, you were named ‘Best New Rock Artist of 2012’ by iTunes and Google Play made ‘Fancy Dress’ their first ever ‘Single Of The Week.’ On top of this and as previously mentioned you’ve almost sold out your headline tour, you’ve had a lot to celebrate recently. What does a Don Broco celebration involve?
Rob: It’s pretty simple really: all our mates round, a lot of drinking and normally a bit of a night out! When we found out the album result we were just over the moon. We’d actually been out the night before because we had an album release show in London, we’d all gone out afterwards. We’d been woken up the next morning and I guess that was our first biggest achievement was ‘Priorities’ when we found out that it had gone in the Top Ten of the mid week UK Album Chart, which we weren’t expecting at all! So we were all pretty hungover at the time but it sort of gave us a new lease of life! Then we had one night off to recover and then the next night we got our management to take us out to the Playboy club which we’d never been to before; we thought if you’re going to celebrate anytime, now is the time to pull out all of the stops and make a bit of a fuss of yourselves so that’s what we did for that! It was pretty fun, I’d definitely recommend it.
AH: When you first started the band back and you looked ahead into the future, what did you expect you would have achieved at this point?
Rob: It’s hard to say really because I think when you start a band, you’re serious about the band and the music; you’re hungry for it you kind of want it all at once and everything always takes longer than you’d expect. Even just writing the album, we started writing it I guess two summers ago, recorded after the summer, not last Autumn but the Autumn before that and then it took like half a year to get it out into the world; it’s only now that people are really hearing it and it has spread through word of mouth, and through different outlets like you guys and written press that people are sort of really cottoning onto it now. So I guess looking back you know you can’t really ask for any more than you’ve got at the moment. Like we’re plugging away to grow our fan base but I think if we’d been told a year ago that the album would do so well we’d have been pretty surprised. We’d have loved to have hoped that it would have taken us this far but to have actually got there we’re really happy!
AH: Even just going through our conversations in this interview we’ve established that both 2012 and now 2013 have been extremely successful for you as a band. What’s your next aim?
Rob: Well we’d love to obviously play the festivals again, we had such a good festival season last summer and we’d love to do more this summer but bigger stages, higher up slots would be great. Further down the line we’d love to get out and tour more. We got our first taste of Europe last year supporting Young Guns and we loved it; it’s given us a real taste for playing overseas as well. After this big UK tour what else is there to do really in the UK? You don’t want to over play and kids getting bored! So we’d love to get out and travel a bit really, that’s a big goal of ours and spread the Broco word amongst the world!
AH: Any final words?
Rob: I guess we just want to thank everyone who has known about us before and helped get the word out about the album: played it to their mates; put it on at a party, because I think in recent months with the album that’s what we’ve noticed: people getting on board, getting in contact with us saying “Yeah my mate hooked me up and I love it,” so yeah to all of the people supporting us big up yourselves and we’ll see you very soon on tour!
‘Priorities’ by Don Broco is out now on Search And Destroy Records.
Words by Hannah Gillicker (@HannahGillicker)