Don Broco: “Life Is Short And Fleeting – It’s Worth Making The Most Of”
Since the release of their 4K-rated third album Technology last year, Don Broco have grown from strength to strength, embarking on their biggest UK tour yet – including a sold-out show at London’s SSE Arena, Wembley – and finally making an impact in America, a feat which had long been a target for the band.
Following the release of single HALF MAN HALF GOD earlier this year, the quartet have now returned with another new track, the self-described “hype tune” Action. It’s a song which features not one, not two, not three but four guest vocalists, with Issues’ Tyler Carter, Beartooth’s Caleb Shomo, Dance Gavin Dance’s Tilian Pearson and ONE OK ROCK’s Taka Moriuchi all lending their talents to the cause. And not only that, but it comes with a bizarre action-figure-loving video that sees all four singers as well as the Broco boys immortalised as ‘80s toys.
Speaking to Kerrang! following a festival performance in South Korea and a bank holiday weekend spent soaking in the positive vibes of Reading Festival, frontman Rob Damiani is in good spirits.
“I had the best time at Reading!” he says. “Going as a punter rather than playing it meant I could just watch bands and hang out with mates. It was probably the best Reading Festival I’ve had in seven years.”
But Rob has far more pressing matters to discuss than a weekend spent revelling in the sunshine. Don Broco are starting a new chapter, and it’s one in which they’re setting out to do things differently. As he reveals, their new song is the result of friendship, ambition and an “acceptance of mortality”. Inspired by a trawl through his camera roll and a life-changing experience on 2018’s Warped Tour, Action is a carpe diem anthem that’s all about living for the moment and a piece of songwriting that is, Rob says, “unlike anything we’ve done before…”
Hey, Rob! What was the vision you had in mind when putting Action together?
“We wanted a hype tune and to do something slightly out of our usual remit. We were looking for it to be a balls-out, fun song that doesn’t give a fuck. In terms of the structure of it, the idea was that the track would do what it wanted and not follow any rules. It was a very spontaneous song that came about by accident. Last summer we were jamming this beat in the studio and going through stuff on my phone trying to find a photo from our Greatness video. I found this behind the scenes video from the shoot where the director was orchestrating a scene with Matt [Donnelly, drums] and Simon [Delaney, guitar], and I happened across the moment where he shouts ‘Action!’ We applied that recording to the song and, weirdly, it seemed to punctuate the beat and sound musical. Vocal sampling is something we’ve never done before, but it worked, and we were instantly like, ‘Okay, we’ve got something here.’ It was really exciting to essentially stumble across the song out of nowhere.”
Is that freedom and spontaneity echoed in the song’s lyrics?
“Totally. Action is about being alive, living your life to the full and not letting anyone hold you back, and that’s something that I think crops up in a lot of Don Broco songs. What holds it together is this acceptance of mortality. We’re all going to die at some point, and Action is about embracing the notion that life is short and fleeting, and it’s something worth making the most of. Whether it’s in terms of career and life plans, or simply saying yes to going out rather than staying at home and watching Netflix, the idea of taking a leap and living in the moment really sums up the message of Action.”
Action features several guest vocalists. Where did the idea to make this a collaborative track stem from?
“Like the song itself, it was something that kind of happened by chance. When Action was in its infancy we were on Warped Tour last year, and that’s an experience I’ll never forget. We were completely exhausted for eight weeks and, at the same time, we had no idea whether we were coming or going. You wake up on Warped and you might be straight into playing a show or it could be a five-hour wait, but you’ve got all your mates in one place for a finite amount of time, so you have to make the most of it. That whole experience reminded me of this song we were writing and I thought that, with all these amazing artists around us, it was a prime opportunity to do a collaboration, which is something we’ve never really done before.”
Did the notoriously chaotic nature of Warped Tour make that difficult to nail down?
“Yeah. It was hard to get things done at the festival, and it took more time than we imagined, but we got there. Tyler from Issues was a good friend that summer and someone I spent a lot of time with, and the initial idea for Action was to get him on it so he could come up onstage when we played subsequent shows with them. We couldn’t get everything sorted in time for our touring together after Warped, but the idea was there. Fast-forward a few months and we had Tyler on board, as well as Caleb from Beartooth, who came to Tom’s [Doyle, bass] house when they were in town for their Wembley show with Architects, and within half an hour he’d laid down some awesome vocals. Two weeks later we left for a U.S. tour with Dance Gavin Dance, and we subsequently became friends with their singer, Tillian, and asked him to get involved. Taka from ONE OK ROCK was someone we’d wanted to work with for a long time, and it seemed fitting that, as one of our first-ever shows outside of the UK was in Japan with his band, we should ask him to guest on Action, too, particularly because we love all the ONE OK ROCK guys. Including Matt and myself, that totals six vocalists on Action, and it results in this constant onslaught of different voices. The whole process was just bonkers, basically!”
Looking ahead to the future, can you envisage a time when all four of those singers could join you onstage to perform the song together?
“That’s the dream! It’s something that could happen one day, and it’s definitely a thought that was on my mind when working on the track. Having all six vocalists together to perform is a crazy idea – it’d be like we were in Slipknot! You never know… I’m crossing my fingers that one day we’ll all be in the same place because to pull it off would be ridiculous.”
Will Action be a standalone single or part of an upcoming album?
“Honestly, we haven’t really thought about that yet. The intention right now is for it to stand on its own, though we’re actually considering releasing the original demo of the song as well. When we originally recorded Action without any of the guest features it had a slightly different feel to it, so we think it would be cool to drop both versions so fans can see the progression and understand what the various vocalists did with their parts once they became involved. I like the idea of Action having an A‑side and a B‑side. But, right now, we’re focused on putting this song out and touring. Once we’re back from that is when we’ll properly get stuck into the new album. Given we’re still early in the process, it’s hard to know whether Action will fit into the next full-length. This song feels like a fitting way to end the Technology era and begin a new one.”
You mentioned that you’re heading to the U.S. soon, and that’s somewhere the band have made real strides recently. How are you feeling ahead of going back there to do a headline run?
“Pumped! We’ve only been off the road for a month or two, and we were really looking forward to that break, but it definitely feels time to get back out there. Being in the UK for the summer has been awesome, though – it’s the first time in at least four years that we’ve had that. We’re in Asia with Mike Shinoda, which is awesome because he’s a guy who has given us so many wicked opportunities, and it’s shows like that that make you feel like a proper rock star. America is somewhere we’re really looking forward to getting back to as well: we’ve spent a lot of time there recently, and it’s only since Technology came out that we’ve really made an impact in the U.S. – it feels like we’ve crammed eight years’ worth of progress in the States into two. It’s getting harder and harder to make a real impression as a touring band these days, so we’re very grateful for how well things have gone for us outside of the UK. To have so many shows sold-out is insane, and it’ll be a nice way to round off 2019.”
Finally, it’s been over a year since the release of Technology. On reflection, how pleased have you been with the response that album received and the progress you’ve made since?
“It’s been by far the best-received album we’ve ever written, and it’s crazy to look back on all the amazing things we’ve done off the back of it. Naturally, we’ve thought every record we’ve written has been the best at the time of its release, but 18 months later I still stand by that statement with regards to Technology. We’ve won fans the hard way through constant touring, and that’s given us the platform to take things to the next level and achieve this success. The fact that our fans have really taken this record to heart and loved it so much is the most we could have ever asked for. It’s been a bonkers few years, but we’re really pleased with where the band is at right now and we’re excited to start the next chapter.”
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