Danko Jones - "Gonna Be A Fight Tonight" (Teaser Clip)
Twenty years. Fourteen albums. Thirty-plus transatlantic treks. Fifteen Top 40 singles. 350,000 podcast downloads and counting. Arena tours across 11 countries with Guns N Roses. A video trilogy starring Elijah Wood and Ralph Macchio. A feature-length documentary. An oral-history biography. Personal invites from Lemmy to join Motörhead on the road (and on water, for the 2014 Motörboat cruise). For most bands, that would amount to a hell of a career. For Toronto trio Danko Jones, its called warming up.
Consider that, at a similar point in their careers, The Rolling Stones were easing into the champagne-room disco of Emotional Rescue; KISS were writing power ballads with Michael Bolton; and Iggy Pop was crossing over to mainstream radio with synth-smothered covers of 1950s golden oldies. Fire Music, on the other hand, is loaded with some of the most incendiary, fierce, and downright pissed-off songs Danko Jones has ever committed to tape. This is a record that should come with a hazardous-materials warning stickeran explosive Molotov rocktail that threatens to melt the very vinyl the record is pressed on.
The music of Danko Jones has always doubled as a form of therapy, a physical and emotional release for those times when love is unkind. Fire Music, however, is what happens when therapy doesnt work, when all that pent-up agitation is left to stew and gets expelled into pure, merciless, violent rock n roll fury. You dont listen to love anymore, Danko sings to the titular Wild Woman of the albums opening trackso, he reasons, perhaps shell listen to hate. The Twisting Knife, Gonna Be a Fight, Body Bagsthese arent mere expressions of frustration, theyre declarations of war: scorched-earth salvos that take no prisoners and spare no survivors, unleashing a torrent of Misfits-worthy WOAH-OH-OH and HEY! HEY! shout-along hooks that cheer on the destruction with an almost sadistic glee. (Back in 2003, Danko Jones released an album called We Sweat Blood; on Fire Music, they sound like they drink it, too.) When Danko takes the briefest of pauses on Body Bags to declare, I do not forget/ I do not forgive, it feels like weve crossed a point of no return that whatever belief he ever had in love and romance has disintegrated into the darkest depths of his blackened soul.
No doubt, the recruitment of new drummer Rich Knoxformerly of southern-fried Toronto rockers Flash Lightninghas had an adrenalizing effect on band co-founders Danko and John JC Calabrese, his rampaging rhythms pushing the veteran duo to new extremes of intensity. But if Fire Musics first side takes a raze n blaze approach, its second act presents less blitzkrieg, more bopafter all, if your worlds gone to hell, what else can you do but laugh? And so the smooth-talkin Mango Kid of old reemerges on Do You Wanna Rock asking, Are you ready for the greatest feeling? Are you ready for the time of your life?which the songs slinky, cowbelled boogie dutifully delivers as advertised. The tongue-through-cheek Getting Into Drugs, meanwhile, goes for another twirl on the same brass rail as the 2012 lap-dance anthem Legs, giving shout-outs to the Stones and Wu-Tang Clan along the way; Watch You Slide is a torqued-up blues-punk shuffle that hearkens back to Dankos maiden mid-90s romps through the Toronto indie scene (a moment in time further immortalized on the 2014 compilation of early demos, Garage Rock!: A Collection of Lost Songs From 1996-1998). And in the grand Danko Jones tradition of roof-raising, show-stopping, wall-crumbling finales (see: My Love Is Bolds Love Is Unkind, Below the Belts I Wanna Break Up With You, or Rock and Roll Is Black and Blues I Believed in God), we have She Aint Coming Home, wherein all the rage and regret simmering through Fire Music is manifest in a riotous roadhouse-metal gallop and a soaring, arms-interlocked group chorus that audiences will no doubt be singing long after the house lights have turned back on and security escorts them out of the venue.
With Fire Music, you get an album that burns at both ends, showcasing Danko Jones at both their most energetic and eclectic, like a greatest-hits career retrospective made up of all-new material, delivering blasts from the past while blazing trails into the future. I got a date with dynamite, Danko sang back in 1996 by way of introduction, if you got the guts, well, light my match. Eighteen years later on Fire Music, that offer still stands.