|Dead End Drive-In: Now Showing - Danko Jones|
|Written by Jamie Delerict|
|Sunday, 17 June 2012 04:30|
I've been a fan of Danko Jones since 2001 and I've bought every release of theirs at the earliest opportunity. Over the years, I've been lucky enough to have seen them from many different vantage points. I've been a ticket-buying fan in the crowd at small UK clubs, I've been in their support band in New York and I've been side-stage at big European festivals. I've also had a few opportunities to talk to the great man himself on a number of occasions. And let me tell you that the Danko Jones you see onstage is FAR removed from the Danko Jones offstage. This man understands the "show" part of "showbusiness" and is a born entertainer. I've seen crowd reactions to Danko bordering on "hostile" in the UK and then seen him treated like a Rock God by fans in mainland Europe. I've seen him play to a handful of punters and I've seen him perform in front of thousands of rock 'n' rollers. For all of these reasons and more, I was excited to see what Danko and the band had to say in regards to their careers in the music biz thus far and also the strange kind of "limbo" that the band exist in because of their undefineable sound. Punk? Metal? Rock? Who cares? Of course it's all just rock 'n' roll to people like me and you, but that's not exactly how the average punter views music. Also, much like most of my other favourite bands, I'm genuinely confused as to why the rest of the world (and/or the mainstream) haven't seemed to have cottoned on to the greatness of Danko Jones yet....
The thing that strikes me immediately about the documentary part of this DVD is the production. It's super-slick and the animated graphics that occasionally pop up to emphasise a point being made had me laughing out loud on more than a few occasions. I also found myself hanging on the every word of both Danko and his best friend/bassist JC as my mind worked overtime on filling in the blanks of my own personal Danko-timeline. There are plenty of interesting details for hardcore fans but I'm almost certain that a new or casual fan would become absorbed in the story as it unravels too. The close bond between Danko and JC is heart-warming especially given the half-a-dozen drummers that have passed through the band. The two friends were clearly careful not to sensationalise or trivialise any of their drummers departures (which I commend), but it would have been excellent to hear from at least one of them to get another side to the story as it were. (The inclusion of an emotional Franz Stahl reminiscing about his time in the band in a recent Foo Fighters documentary really helped balance their story in my opinion.) There is some great early video footage of a pimped out and dare I say, "jive-talking" Danko riling up and pissing off punk rock crowds with his cocky persona and I loved seeing his evolution as a performer take place right in front of my eyes.
The documentary highlighted the fact that Danko Jones are a pretty big band in mainland Europe and stalwarts on the festival circuit, whilst maintaining a somewhat lower profile in both their homeland of Canada and in the USA. That subject was seemingly touched upon a few times, but never categorically acknowledged by either the band or the filmmakers. I'll readily admit though, that with these two points, I'm nit-picking (but as a huge fan, I feel as though I have the right to!). I also loved the honesty on display as Danko admits that they simply "outgrew" the garage-punk scene and have no problem admitting that they want to be the biggest rock band in the world like their heroes KISS. Overall, the pacing of the story is pitch-perfect. The wealth of footage at the director's disposal would appear to be mammoth and whether it be documenting album recordings, live footage or behind the scenes snippets, there ALWAYS seems to be some kind of audio-visual clips of the time to back up the present day storytelling. Which when you think about any band with a 15 year plus history, is quite a phenomenal feat in itself. It's a very "real" story of a band that has risen to a very respectable level on the rock 'n' roll ladder naturally, organically and most importantly; on their own terms.
The "extras" are all equally as thorough: Tagged onto the end of Disc 1 is the previously unreleased 'The Ballad Of Danko Jones', a 20 minute short-film starring Elijah Wood, Selma Blair, Ralph "Karate Kid" Macchio, Lemmy and Mike Watt as well as, of course, the band themselves. The footage from this short film was chopped up and used to make the trilogy of videos they released from their latest album, 'Below The Belt'. As much as those three videos were impressive, (especially from a production standpoint) I have to admit to not fully understanding the story that was trying to be told at the time. Thankfully, 'The Ballad Of Danko Jones' does indeed fill in those gaps in storytelling and although the script and plot is average at best, the slickness of the overall production is on par with anything that Hollywood spends millions of dollars on making. Disc 2 contains every single promo video Danko Jones have ever made (clocking in at well over an hour) along with a shitload of excellent (and chronological) live footage.
All in all, I've got to give this DVD five stars and 10/10. Okay, so it may not have the emotional ups and downs and the "pay-off" of the Anvil story, or the sensational and controversial aspects of a Motley Crue documentary, but it's very real, honest and sincere. You're not going to find tales of excess, drink and drugs anywhere here, just a story of a couple of friends who want to make a living playing rock 'n' roll and seeing the world. I for one hope that the Danko Jones story is only halfway through being told.