Published on June 6th, 2011 | Jonny Abrams
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“Better that than Billy Talent”: thus came the reaction from Dananananaykroyd guitarist David Roy when Rocksucker compared their sound to Sonic Youth, just one of the many topics we covered while grilling one third of the Glaswegian six-piece in a packed frontal beer garden just before their exhilarating performance at the Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen.
For the record, neither David nor bassist Ryan McGinness were supping on anything alcoholic for the duration of the interview: rest assured, then, that this band’s absurd moniker is no reflection on their meticulous professionalism (at least when they’re not injuring themselves jumping off stages or enlisting the help of hired goons to steal their own equipment).
Rocksucker enjoyed a full and frank discussion with David and Ryan about the big issues in life: you know, wrestler analogies, albums that smell of dreadlocks, Back to the Future III, the perfect cooked breakfast and a drunken encounter with Bob Hoskins. That sort of thing. Oh yes, and forthcoming album There Is A Way, the joyously riotous follow-up to 2009 debut Hey Everybody!. “Read on Macduff”…
Obvious question for starters: how on earth did you manage to get your record label and management to agree to a name like that?
David: They didn’t have a say in the matter! I think we got signed at a point where our live show justified having a silly name.
Ryan: It’s a lot better than our name, basically.
David: You can’t have everything perfect all the time. “We like this band but they’ve got a crap name. Ah well, you can’t have everything.”
What was it like recording with Ross Robinson in LA?
D: It was awesome.
R: We had a really good time. You’re in a nice place, a really good environment to work in. He’s a really cool guy and he’s worked with lots of really cool people so I think we were a little bit awestruck at first maybe.
D: Five weeks in LA, on Venice beach, recharging.
When were you over there?
R: We went out there at some point in November…
D: …and we were home just in time for Christmas.
R: Aye, there was a little bit of panic what with the snow and stuff but we managed to make it home, so.
D: It was a bit of a shock: we’d spent five weeks in LA where it was pretty much summer as it is here, sunglasses every day, and then we landed back here and there was snow everywhere. Chaos!
Tell us a bit about what we can expect from the new album, in as vague or as abstract terms as you like…
R: Recently I put on our Facebook page that if our album was a person then it would probably be the WWF wrestler Mick Foley: it’s sort of haggard and stuff…
R: Oh sorry, my bad.
D: (Seizing the Foley baton, as it were) Because it’s fat, it’s gigantic, it’s got a beard…
R: …and his heart is in the right place as well.
D: It’s flabby and bearded but it has a heart of gold.
R: And it’ll wrestle the shit out of you!
Who was your wrestler of choice back in the nineties heyday of WWF?
R: The Ultimate Warrior was good, for me.
D: The Undertaker.
How come you decided to have two drummers in the band?
D: Just for maximum power. We had four at the start and that was too much so we cut it down to two. We’re down to one now, like a normal band.
R: With a silly name.
We were going to ask: how disruptive have the various personnel changes been to the band?
D: It’s been fine. The people that left left for very good reasons and they were quickly replaced so it wasn’t a struggle.
R: It’s worked out pretty well for me as well so I’m happy with that.
D: It was worse when John broke his arm and he couldn’t play drums for a year or so.
Has he jumped off a stage since then?
D: He has but it took him a while to build up the courage again.
Are you – as has been mooted – going to return to the venue where it happened [The Annandale Hotel in Sydney] and resume the gig from the point in the set where it happened?
R: We’ve said that. When’s it happening? A month or so?
D: End of July.
R: End of July that’s going to happen. We’re pretty excited. Not looking forward to the flight but it’s amazing once you get there.
What’s it like touring round the world in a van or some such? Do you ever go out of your minds?
R: It’s actually not bad. Have you seen the film Back to the Future III? They’ve got this big train with wings on it and our tour van is modelled lightly on that. It’s luxurious.
D: It doesn’t make you want to shoot yourself in the face. That’ll do.
Is it true that the original studio you were recording your first album in was condemned by the fire department so you had to hire the Mafia to break in and steal your equipment back?
D: We had to get hired goons to break open the door and get the gear out, yeah.
How did you find these goons?
D: I don’t know.
R: Hired goons? You can get them anywhere.
D: It was in New Jersey. You’ve seen The Sopranos, haven’t you?
R: Just look for any shell-suited guy in New Jersey with a nice house.
D: That’s a proper three-year-old question right there. Ryan wasn’t even in the band then!
Your song ‘Black Wax’ was supposedly inspired by a dream of John’s in which he was having sex on a bus made of drums. Can you tell us of any other peculiar dreams which have found their way into Dananananaykroyd compositions?
D: You’re talking to the wrong guys here! We’re the music guys. I don’t know where John gets a lot of his ideas from but some of them are from dreams he’s had. Any more you can think of?
D: There’s one about finding a diary in a time capsule, reading through it and absolutely hating the person; then getting to the end and realising that it’s your own diary. That was from a dream.
‘1993’ from the first album ends with a menacing voice whispering /hissing the words “hey everyone” over and over again. Are you not concerned about what this could do to one’s state of mind should they fall asleep listening to it and have it percolating into their dreams?
R: You’d die straight away.
D: It’s like The Ring.
R: That’s why there’s a warning on the CD. And that’s why no-one bought the first CD.
D: “You might die.”
Why did you ditch the working title of the new album? It’s perfect.
R: What was the working title of the album?
I Honestly Can’t Believe You Got That Much Ham into a Solitary Sandwich and Still Went to See Metallica. (Reportedly.)
D: That was just a joke that’s on Wikipedia. The amount of people that actually fell for that…
R: We’ve been asked about that before as well. It got to the stage where I tried editing our own Wikipedia and it came back saying that I couldn’t because it didn’t think I was a member of the band! It had been going on so long.
D: We kept on changing the album title!
R: I think I was trying to say that it wasn’t going to have a title. Our original idea was for the album not to have a title but just to have a very distinct smell, so whenever you went into the shop you could recognise it from that. But there’s no way you could do that so we just decided to have a regular title. We’d have used a freshly-cut grass smell.
The smell of the vinyl or CD booklet: you just don’t get that any more in this, the era of the download. In Rocksucker’s humble opinion, the best smelling album of all time is In it for the Money by Supergrass. It was a lovely ruffled booklet as well.
D: Godspeed You! Black Emperor: their albums were pretty smelly. They sort of smelt like dreadlocks. Dreadlocks and sunsets.
Which is your favourite meal: breakfast, lunch or dinner?
R: Breakfast, most definitely. It sets you up for the rest of the day.
What, in your opinion, are the constituent ingredients of a perfect cooked breakfast?
R: I’m not a vegetarian and David is so it would be a very different breakfast for me.
D: You answer this question then!
R: I’m Scottish so it’s going to have to be: potato scones, black pudding, square slice sausage, Scottish plain bread and…erm…some heroin.
D: That’ll do the trick. Sets you up for the rest of the day.
Breakfast of champions!
R: Seriously though, it ruins your whole day. Don’t do it.
Rate our interviewing technique out of ten.
D: There were a couple of old questions in there so I’d give you seven or eight.
So we don’t lose marks for this? (Brandishes tiny scrap of paper on which questions are handwritten in alternating red and green ink)
D: That is just crass.
R: I see how you’ve mixed the red and the green. A lot of people wouldn’t be brave enough to do that.
That way we didn’t have to leave spaces in between questions, thus saving paper. Rocksucker is environmentally friendly in that very particular way.
D: I saw Neutral Milk Hotel in 1998 and their set list was written on a napkin.
R: One time when I was at university, I was coming out the studio and I met Bob Hoskins. I told him that I really liked his work in Hook but I was a little bit drunk and the time and I don’t think he really wanted to talk to me that much.”
Looky looky, I’ve got Hooky!” Classic fare. Banal question alert: what are you listening to at the moment?
R: I’ve kind of gone back to the old school, listening to lots of Simon & Garfunkel, Tom Petty, that sort of thing. When we talked earlier about our van, it isn’t quite as luxurious as I described it and at some points it does get a wee bit rough…
D: You can change our answer to that question to: it’s horrible.
R: …it’s totally rubbish! So because of that, when you wake up you need some soothing hang over music to get you back in a nice mood and I find that Simon & Garfunkel, Yo La Tengo – that sort of thing – is quite good.
D: And the new Chad VanGaalen album. I like that.
Finally, could you each name – as of this very moment – your top three albums of all time?
R: Source Tags & Codes by …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. Siamese Dream by The Smashing Pumpkins. And Big Ones by Aerosmith.
D: Rusty by Rodan. Tomorrow We Will Run Faster by Sweep the Leg Johnny. Have you heard of them? They’re two of the greatest rock albums of all time and if you like Sonic Youth then you have to listen to them. And finally, probably Pet Sounds or something like that.
R: Dark Side of the Moon!
The Queen Is Dead, Parklife etc etc. Ryan and David, thank you.
Dananananaykroyd’s second album There Is A Way will be released on June 13th on the band’s own Pizza College label. For more information and a list of live dates, please visit dananananaykroyd.co.uk