Brumlive’s Lucy Pryor caught up with Rob, Tom and Simon from Don Broco at the start of their recent UK tour
Thanks for taking the time out to talk to Birmingham Live! You started out on your headline, nationwide tour last night in Norwich, how did your first night go?
R- It was amazing!!
I saw some photos on Instagram this morning, it looked amazing! Was it in an old church?
R- Yeah, there are quite a few old churches on that road actually, its such a cool venue!
T- Yeah there’s like 4 or something, and one of them has been converted into this art centre and venue it was great.
To anyone that hasn’t heard of you yet (which is pretty unlikely with the radio airplay you have!), can you sum up your sound and what ‘Don Broco’ are about?
R- First thing is we’re a rock band, I guess musically we take a lot of different influences into our sound. Predominately we like our pop music, our up-beat tempos, live we’re all about everyone having a good time and having a good sing along. Catchy, fun rock music!
According to your bio you’ve had a few different names including Club Sex and Summerfall, Where did the name Don Broco come from and how come you settled on this?
R- Well me, Simon, and Matt have been together since we were at school, a sort of 3 way bromance!
(rest of the band start laughing)
Yeah we’ve been playing in bands for a long time now, I’m sure there were more names than that actually! Club Sex was a more recent one, I think we still play one song that we wrote when we were Club Sex. Once we actually decided we were gonna go for it and take things seriously, we needed a new name that wasn’t so… you know…
S- Not that it wasn’t serious, its just the world wasn’t ready for Club Sex!
R- Yeah the world wasn’t ready for Club Sex. So that may just be a side project one day!
So that’s a future project for you then?
(All start laughing)
S- Yeah we’ll do some not so secret gigs as Club Sex ha ha!!
You formed back when you were all 15 at school and according to your bio played your first gig whilst studying for your GCSE’s. It must feel like this is all you’ve ever done?
What do you think you would be doing now if things hadn’t worked out for you as a band?
R- I guess so! That was the 1st time we ever played with 3 of these members as a band. Once we went to University we weren’t a band then, it was only afterwards we got back together and thought, right lets make a go of it. Then we met Tom (bassist), who was playing in a different band at the time.
T- But everyone has their price!
Did they steal you Tom!!
R- Poached (laughs)
T- after a long period though
Ha ha did they have to woo you with gifts?!
R- Yeah we took harems of women to his door
T- I was easily swayed!
What did you all study at Uni then, was it related to music and the band?
R- Tom did
T- Yeah I did music
R- I did theology
Ahh that explains some of your lyrics then!
R- ha ha really? ! Simon did English Lit and Matt did chemistry! Sooo not really related to the band! I’ve never really thought of doing anything else other than being in the band, and it scares me , the thought of getting real job!! I wouldn’t know what I’d be doing, maybe a priest?
(everyone starts laughing)
It’s almost exactly two years since the release of your mini album ‘Big Fat Smile’ on 14th Feb 2011, and the start of your headline, sell out, ‘Priorities’ tour. Do you finally feel like you’ve ‘made it’ as a band, or does none of this feel real still?
R- Its hard to ever sort of think we’ve ‘made it’ now, you know, we have all these ambitions, and every time you sort of tick off a goal, you’ve got another goal and they keep getting bigger and bigger. We definitely feel validated that two years ago we were doing tiny venues to nobody, and now, people have heard the music, and we’ve got an album out, and we’re here.
And people are queuing outside to see you!
R- Exactly its an amazing feeling to know we’ve gotten to this stage, definitely.
I read that you turned your tour van into a portable rehearsal studio? How did that come
about and do you still use it?
T- ha ha well the amps are actually still under the seats!
Oh my god is it outside now ha ha!!
T- We need to take them out actually!!
R- Yeah its weighing us down! There’s no room to do anything anymore! Back then there was only the 4 of us in the fan so there was room in the back for the guitarist to sort of angle it so he could play
Did you have a full drum kit set up in there? I would be so impressed if you did!
R- Well we had a Kohon, which is sort of a cube drum thing that the drummer could tap along with , but not the full drum kit yet ha ha!
Your songs are full of hooks and punch (if that’s the right word!!), please don’t take this personally but the first time I heard your songs I wasn’t sure. But then I sort of needed to listen to them again and again, and there was something that just kept hooking me back! Those are the sort of songs I really like as they grow on you, the songs that I instantly like, I end up being bored of after a week, but with yours I just kept hearing something different each time I listened to them.
R- Oh that’s great! That’s brilliant!
I read that Rob said
““the lyrics on this album are about the decisions you have to make – whether that’s being in a band and not earning any money, being poor and having a good time, to getting out of a relationship. Lyrically, I was in the zone, it’s darker and more honest than I’ve ever been before,”
what is your biggest influence on your song writing, is it as the quote said, or does your theology degree come in to it or something else?
R- Yeah I think one of the biggest, not lyrical influences, but the way I approach writing my lyrics is taking the anything goes approach. I’d say collectively as a band one of our favourite bands is a band called Ruben, who unfortunately aren’t together anymore. You listen to his lyrics and he writes about anything and everything. He can be writing about the universe one minute and then he’s taking about being in a band and how rubbish it is the next . And I sort of took it from that you know if he can write about whatever he wants then I can write about whatever I want too. I think within your life you’re going to go through a lot of things and people can write stories about whatever they want. There a song on the album called ‘Back in the Day’, which we wrote during the riots, and I didn’t really want to write a song about the riots. I’ve never seen myself as sort of a political writer, or have anything of value to say about politics. I don’t think I’ve made up my mind yet about where I stand politically, but its all you could think about when the riots were going on, you were just bombarded with it, so I ended up writing a song about that. It was something my dad said actually that got me thinking, he said about how riots are cyclical and throughout time, when sort of people at the bottom of the pile are fed up with it, people are going to stand up and take notice. Every generation has it, then something gets fixed and people slip back into it. No one was actually talking about it on the news, and I ended up writing about that, which I never thought I would do when we started writing the album. Then the majority of the songs are more about things that have happened to me and my friends and the choices you have to make and the things that I find interesting are the choices you have to make in difficult scenarios. And that sort of how we ended up writing the song ‘Priorities’, which is specifically about spending time with your mates over spending all your time with your partner, and the title reflected the whole album as in how you prioritise your time. It all sort of fit in nicely once we had that title really.
‘Hold On’ was the 3rd single to be released from your album ‘Priorities’, and had a massive amount of air play on Radio 1 and Kerrang as well as other stations. With lyrics like
“If I said I remembered your name then I’d be lying. Told you my real name then I was lying”
Was this inspired by real encounter or is it a comment on our growing culture of one night stands and sex for the sake of having sex whilst pretending to be something they aren’t?
R- Yeah! It was sort of about when I was on a night out and I was a little bit bored, all my friends were chatting up different girls and I found myself in this scenario, I was a little bit drunk and I was wondering around thinking where have all my mates gone, and they were all chatting up girls! It was weird, I kept going up to them thinking I’ll get involved in this conversation and then think, I cant really as he’s chatting up a bird so ending up being a bit of a third wheel and just lingering around. And I heard my one mate say this ridiculous line to try and chat up this girl, actually, it wasn’t a chat up line, it was just arrogant sort of chat and somehow it was working and she was giving it back just as good. And it just got me sort of writing these texts to myself on my phone and thinking I’ve gotta write a song about this! Then it got me thinking about what a weird scenario it is when people will go out just to get a one night stand, I’m not saying I’m any better, as I’ve gone out on nights and though I’d love to get laid, you know I think a lot of people do that. I’m not looking down on it, I just find it strange that people put themselves in those scenarios!
In the video for ‘Actors’ your 2nd single off of Priorities, we see you all having sort of split personalities, and switching between the dark and the light. Did you get a say in the concept of the video and if so did you achieve what you wanted? For me the video is sort of a narrative of life in the spot light of fame where you’ve always got to be ‘on’ and the tension that causes behind the scenes. Is this something you you find you have experienced as a band, especially now you’re getting quite famous?
T- It was a great shoot!
R- yeah we do get a say! We’d been basically chatting to a mate of ours who’s done some wicked videos, he’s done some really big music videos as well as like beauty and fashion and stuff, like Kelis , Ellie Goulding and The Saturdays. So like some really expensive videos. He was saying about how he hasn’t done a rock video in ages and how he’s a rocker at heart and he’d love to do one of ours. So we were talking to him about how what we could do for sort of a live video with a twist, as we hadn’t done a video about what we are as in performance . The song is about being a little bit two faced and how everyone’s got different sides to them, and it one of the darker songs on the album. We thought we could get that across by showing the sort of fake behind the scenes of what its like for our band.
Actors is sort of a narrative of life in the spot light really though isn’t it, because you cant ever really have and off day, you’ve always got to be ‘on’. When the camera flicks on, you might feel like crap but you cant show it. I don’t think you can really have an off day when your famous because people remember it and think oh my god they were so rude and it becomes sensational. Is this something you’ve found you’ve experienced? You’ve been together such a long time, do you ever wish that you could have an off day?
R- We’re quite lucky really in the sense its never been too bad, I guess you get the occasional how where you turn up to and your absolutely knackered.
T- yeah and you just want to hide away
R- Yeah and then you get there and you’ve got fans waiting to meet you at the van, and if you’re completely honest with yourself you’d love to just hide away and have a sleep in the venue but you cant. Its the fans that make the band, that’s who we’re playing for, without them you’d just be playing to empty rooms so you just have to suck it up! We’ve been lucky though we don’t have that too much!
You do all seem very cheerful!!
R- Yeah we haven’t turned in to bitter old men just yet ha ha!!
The song ‘Actors’ tells the story of fake people trying to keep up a pretense.
With lines like
“Shadow every single move
Take your cue, laugh when the boss laughs
All the actors, all the actors
All the actors
God know they try”
Being in the music industry pretty much the whole of your adult lives now, is this something you’ve learnt to do and the song is the story of this, or is this you rebelling against that ‘fake’ persona you’re kind of expected to have and wanting to be yourselves?
R- Yeah its more us rebelling against it than being fake ourselves, I’d like to think we aren’t fake!
Oh my god I’m not saying you’re fake
(all start laughing)
R- No no that’s OK (laughs), in any industry music or whatever, you have to go to these events and you cant be a twat to everyone or your not gonna keep your job. Sometimes you witness a conversation and you see someone making an absolute fool of themselves. You see them talking to one person then two minutes later taking to someone else and just totally backstabbing the person they’ve just spoken too.
T- Yeah people can be so two faced.
R- yeah definitely
For me that song just reminded me of where I used to work and the people you would see sucking up to the boss and being two faced and it drove me insane!
R- Well that line that you picked out as well was one I was privy too . I was like I’ve got to write that line there and then it was like the guy who he was sucking up too laughed. then there was like a 2 second delay , then he looked around to see if everyone else was laughing then he was like ha ha. It was SO blatant, I just thought is everyone really buying this? So I quickly wrote myself a little note then and there!
Do you do that a lot then, write lyrics on your phone while you’re out and about?
R- I need to more!! We are about to start writing the second album and that’s how I write lyrics the most!
You’ve played Download and Reading/Leeds in the past, have you got any plans to play festivals this year and can you tell me which ones?
R- we haven’t confirmed for any of the big summer festivals yet, they’re still a way off. But we have confirmed for Radstock which is a new festival. To be honest we love all the new, emerging festivals as they are so much more intense.
T- We’ve got Takedown at the beginning of May too, erm we’ve got Hit The Deck in April.
R- I’d say Hit The Deck festival is the big one we’re looking forward to, we played it last year and it was amazing and then this year we’re headlining it!
T- It only started 3 years ago I think? Its just expanded every year
R- The first year we went as punters, the second year we got asked to play and had a wicked show, and getting asked back for a 3rd year and headlining is just amazing.
Gigantic dressing room this year then!!
R- Oh yeah (all laugh)
Do you get like an exciting rider or anything then?
R- Ha ha not really!!
T- We did ask for our dressing room to be painted blue
(All the dressing rooms in the academy are painted blue)
Ha ha that was lucky then!!
Are there any artists or bands out there that you want to collaborate with in the future?
T- I think its always really interesting to have someone do a remix of one of your tracks, because its a different take on it.
Didn’t Haduken do a remix of ‘Hold On’
T- Yeah they did!
What did you think of that?
R- Yeah it was good we loved it, it was quite different as well!
T- Its nice to see what someone does with the raw tracks, and see what they see.
R- Our new single that’s coming out ‘Whole Truth’ has quite a party vibe to it and we’ve been working on some different versions of it ourselves, I’d love to hear what someone like Diplo or a big dance artist do a party remix of it, like a major laser version of it or something.
What do you have planned for 2013, can we expect a new album soon?
R- We’re gonna start writing towards the end of the year as I think we’re gonna be to busy to fit it in before then, we’re going to Europe with We Are The Ocean, going to Germany.
T-Actually I think it might just be Germany.
R-We went there in October last year with Young Guns so it will be wicked to get back there
And do you have a big fan base in Germany?
R- The first show we did there were amazing,
T- People were coming to the first show then the next show, and the next show and the next show. Germany’s a big old country to be driving round and coming to all the gigs, so it was amazing.
And what about America, do you ever think you’ll go out there?
R- No plans yet but we’d love to go out. We’re sort of focusing on Europe at the moment, but you know hopefully next year, we’d love to get out there. We’re keen to go anywhere really!
Thank you so much for talking to Birmingham Live guys!
Interview – Lucy Pryor February 2013