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Dananananaykroyd Interview Pt.2

MORE! Part 1 is here.


Can you tell me about the importance of unity on the album? I can’t think of a band operating today that has more of a sense of all its members working for the same goals, everyone in it together.

DR: It’s just something we’ve always done.

JBJ: It’s weird, our opinions on certain things, our ethics, have always been defined from the beginning. Everyone always agreed on things strongly. It just so happens that our live show and the way we write and record is a result of us defining ourselves early.

DR: We didn’t hold auditions or anything like that, it’s just a gathering of friends. I think right there, right at the start, we’ve had that unity. Friends first.

So if it got to the point where people started falling out…

DR: We fall out all the time.

JBJ: It’s six people living on buses, you’re going to fall out with everyone. If we were a three-piece and there’s a falling-out, you can’t exactly get away from it. But if there’s six of you, then you can…

DR: Avoid certain members! Yeah… unity on the album, what do you mean by that?

Well, you chant your own name, you begin the album with everyone at once on one rocktageous note…

DR: The album was supposed to be a “hello” to the world. The idea is that it catches people’s attention, us shouting our band name is just telling them who we are.

JBJ: And a sly teaching people how to say it… our name just highlights idiots that can’t read.

Jim Bowen or Jim Davidson?

DR: Jim Bowen.

JBJ: Who’s Jim Bowen?

DR: The guy from Bullseye.

JBJ: Oh, so it’s him or Jim Davidson the racist homophobe?

Mario or Luigi?

JBJ: Luigi. I think Mario’s a bit of a wank. Luigi’s the underdog. On Mariokart 64 I would always go with Luigi.

DR: And he’s green for Celtic.

JBJ: And the IRA.

Now that the vocals in the band are split between John and Calum, do you find you play the drums less, John?

JBJ: When I joined the band, it was as a second drummer. The two-drummer thing is amazing, but it’s better if you show the contrast between one drummer and the reason it’s so amazing. The first idea was to drop drums from certain sections so the sections with two drummers would be bigger, like in [recent single] ‘Black Wax’. I think the first song with two vocals was ‘Watch This’, and we thought I’d just play drums in the chorus and make the verse really spacky. It boosts the crowd interaction thing, so there’s two people in your face. We sometimes write lyrics together. There are verses where I’ve written it all, there are verses where Calum has.

There are certain tweaks and differences in some of the older songs on the album, there’s that guitar line at the beginning of ‘Song One Puzzle’…

JBJ: The triplet-y crotchet bit?

DR: That’s Duncan’s part. I’ve been playing the exact same thing…

And you thought “What the HELL is that guy doing?!”

DR: The thing is, I tell Duncan what to play! Then sometimes he comes up with his own parts. He’s a lot better than I’ve given him credit for.

JBJ: It’s not even that, it’s playing the live so much. You start finding little shortcuts, little things to add. They’re never spoken of, it’s natural.

Matthew Horne collapsed on stage this afternoon, what would you do if that happened to someone in the band?

JBJ: It’s almost happened a couple of times, honest to God.

DR: I reckon if it happened it would take a while for someone in this band to notice that that person actually was in any distress.

What’s the nearest you’ve come to it happening?

JBJ: I’ve had proper dizzy spells, from screaming or just exhaustion.

DR: We don’t really care… not really, we’d call all the necessary authorities, clean away the body and get our old drummer back!

Good times. Goooood times.


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Dananananaykroyd Interview Pt.1

Dananananaykroyd are everywhere. Picking up critical acclaim for their hilariously good debut LP, touring the nation to ballistic acclaim and generally mucking about on the internet, they’re the “seriously fun” maxim personified. Much has been made of their relentless ability to appear boisterous in concert and on record, but it wouldn’t work unless they were attentive listeners and interepreters of musical gesture. Sonic Youth meet Fugazi while Don Caballero tell them to turn it down so we can hear the widdly bits, if you like. And Billy Corgan’s there too, but no-one’s really speaking to him.

Just before their sold-out show at the Hoxton Square Bar and Grill, we had a chat with guitarist David Roy and vocalist/drummer John Baillie Jnr. regarding their acclaim, their energy, their unity and some other guff.Dananananaykroyd

What’s your favourite bit in Robocop?

David Roy: “Can you fly, Bobby?”! You know, the guy from _That 70s Show_? I can’t look at that guy now without thinking “Can you fly, Bobby?”! He probably looks in the mirror every day and thinks, “I swear I’m a nice guy.”

Yeah, I remember him, Clarence something-or-other…

DR: Yeah, Clarence Boddiker. I sometimes imagine the guy from _That 70s Show_ is actually the guy from _Robocop_ later on in his life when he’s settled down with a family.

I bought some tablets in Superdrug yesterday. The dosage said take five at a time, but it’s only a packet of twenty-four. What’s that about?

John Baillie Jr: What were they for?

A stomach complaint.

DR: They do that on purpose. You don’t need to take five. But when you get to the last four, you’re gonna need to buy the next pack.

JBJ: In paracetemol, it’s mostly shite. It’s like filler so you can hold it, because it would be microscopic. Well, not microscopic. Fucking tiny. Inconveniently small. So you think, instead of taking five, why can’t they just double the strength?

DR: What, so you take two and a half? Is it not the way the NHS need to make money?

Do you like how I’ve got a page of serious questions and a page of silly ones?

DR: What are you talking about? “What’s your favourite bit in _Robocop_?” That’s a serious question! You know, I haven’t seen that film since I was about 8… my uncle showed it to me when I was a wee boy, it scared the living crap out of me.

That’s the first film I ever saw that had an 18 certificate.

DR: Me too! That bit where he gets shot to pieces is horrible… “Can you fly, Bobby?”

When I saw it, though, it was taped off ITV and they’d censored certain bits of it, so when this one henchman drops a load of scrap metal on Robocop, instead of shouting “Die you bastard!” he shouts “Die you blackguard!”

DR: Haha, “Die you blackguard!” “Forget you!”

JBJ: When we were in America I realised that the only version of _The Karate Kid_ that I’d seen was taped off the TV. So there’s these little bits that I’d never seen before, like, you know when he’s in the shower and Johnny’s rolling a joint, and he gets the hose and fucks him up? There’s a shot where the camera’s down, and Johnny’s rolling a joint, and they don’t show you that on TV. I never understood how he got wet, ever. He just seems to turn a tap on and run away.

DR: Not the back-firing-toilet-wet-his-joint trick? Sorry, your interview.

That’s fine, it’s all part of it. I was reading the NME review of your album, and it tries to place you in the context of some sort of scene, it didn’t really talk about the music at all. What did you think?

DR: (sounding resigned) It’s funny you should ask. We were talking about this earlier today. Personally, James McMahon who wrote it is a really good guy. He asked to do the album, so we were dead chuffed, we thought were going to get a proper, good review in the NME and we wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore. I’m really gutted. Really gutted. It goes back to my teenage years when the NME actually meant a lot to me, and I would buy every 9/10 or 10/10 album. I always dreamed that one day… you know, because the NME’s going downhill a little, I don’t read it so much anymore… I’d always dreamt of having a great debut album score, a well-written review. It kind of broke my heart a little, because I’d waited fifteen years and it’s a bit of a let-down. He didn’t mean it. He didn’t. He was asking why we were gutted, ‘cos we told him.

JBJ: He said he really loved the album.

DR: But the review wasn’t about our album.

JBJ: No. It felt like at the end of it he was like “this album will add to this scene that I’ve just explained to you”.

DR: I know it’s kind of sad, a band like us waiting for a big NME review. It’s because of my age, and I am a little older, so I read the NME when it was at its peak. And that’s that done. That’s our debut album in the NME done, and we can’t ever get that back. I just wished it could’ve been better. This is on strictly personal level, it doesn’t reflect the opinions of the band! Most of them don’t care, we don’t really read our own reviews. But personally it was a little bit of a downer.

Aww, oh no! More tomorrow, when our subjects talk about what they’d do if one of them died. But it’s funny. Have a little listen then!

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Dananananaykroyd – Hoxton Square Bar & Grill, 2/4/09


With their debut album receiving hype aplenty and most reviews being mondo-glowing thus far (including PM’s, look), Dananananaykroyd seem to be in high spirits. That they’ve been on tour forever, are physically wasting away and ill is of no consequence to their love of the live show. It’s everyone together, squashing tightened pop through the narrowest holes possible, so that when it comes out it’s the biggest, most chaotic, triumphant, sweatiest, burliest, wiriest, most battering laugh-attack you might voluntarily subject yourself to.

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of the limits of expression in Dananananaykroyd’s music. No song is written with half-measures in mind, no notes are wasted, and each one is played with intent. This comes across all the more in a live setting, so when you can see dust and spit flying out of vocalists John Baillie Junior and Calum Gunn when they, hugging, shriek about a cake that caught fire or something, it seems to be the most important intimations you ever heard. “We did it!” they shout at the show’s climax. “We did it together!”

Beginning with the first four songs from their upcoming Hey Everyone! LP, the pace is remarkable. Watch This is a bickering, stuttering dialogue that, after delicate and nimble beginnings, explodes into joyful, arms-aloft expressions of supreme happiness. A slightly accelerated Some Dresses, usually the time in the set where the infamous ‘Wall Of Cuddles’ (RIP) would occur, is now home to a new disco section. Gunn dons a white bio-suit for reasons unknown, the lights direct toward the disco ball, a circle is created and a dancing competition takes place. Could you be having more fun, Dananananaykroyd? Could anyone?

Climaxing with Gunn repeatedly lobbing himself into the crowd in the first section of Song One Puzzle and a sweaty encore of Chrome Rainbow, London is won over. In fact, they were won over years ago when the band first began to play here. Only now, everyone is behind Hey Everyone!, and after tonight everyone will now be behind Dananananaykroyd, one of Britain’s best live bands.

See, hear. This review also appears at the lovely Artrocker website.

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Dananananaykroyd – Hey Everyone!

Dananananaykroyd – Hey Everyone! (Best Before)


The first thing to note about Dananananaykroyd is that their unity, their combined sense of themselves, is perhaps stronger than any other band currently operating. Or, rather, their desire to be together, to present one viewpoint with the contribution of six coalescing into the violent musical opinion of one is unassailable. You can hear unity in every song, in every thunderous crash and bang, and it’s so simply achieved. The second thing to note about Dananananaykroyd is that they privilege enjoyment over everything else. Their live show is a sweaty, flamboyant and hugged-out affair, and it seems to have been a modus operandi to attempt its distillation into Hey Everyone!.

As far as statements of intent go, they rarely come more succinctly than the opening title track – a short and triumphant crash of precision finger-tapping and quadruple cymbal action. The intent turns to resolve with the following Watch This, the whole band emphatically chanting their own name before the true hyperactivity begins. Calum Gunn and John Baillie Jr.’s twin vocals are a constant delight throughout, always hysterical and almost bickering with hilarious abandon. Gunn immediately asserts a jovial tone with a girly “Hiya!” before those bickerings take off, and its left to the ensemble to provide the weight – which they do with immense power and style.

One might envisage a template for Dananananaykroyd’s songs – they skip and play awhile, but there’s always an explosion. With Watch This it comes after athletic rimshots and gentle backing vocals. The explosion itself is the purest expression of pop fury imaginable, shocking volume, big chord changes, singable guitars and yelping. The template can be seen again in Infinity Milk, newly extended since appearing in embryonic form on their exceptional debut EP, Sissy Hits. Here, the quiet descends after a fiery chorus for a solitary restatement of the guitar theme before fucking everything arrives again and we’re pushing on towards near-destruction of the vocals. Importantly, the non-vocal instruments remain controlled in their exuberance. It’s almost unfathomable that a group of six people can produce energy concentrate of this undiluted fashion, but an explanation might be that, besides their sheer vigour, the confines of the rock ensemble allow Dananananaykroyd to habitually bash their perimeters. Squash your unbounded energy into the smallest space possible, then watch it fly out with unbridled glee at the opportune moment.

The first single from Hey Everyone!, Black Wax doesn’t feature the band’s strongest chorus, but it demonstrates once again that contrasts have contextual to work. Unfussy and poppily led by tambourine and piano, the verses and choruses fly by until, at one sudden and decisive point, the song turns from unfussy pop to confident atmospherics. The nagging upwards scales in the backing vocals post-second chorus erupt into one of the album’s most triumphant moments (a euphoric/challenging  example of the Gunn/Baillie bickering declares “That’s right!/So far!”) and, brief as it is, it’s hard to imagine rock moments more purely engaging as this one.

Guitar-wise, finer examples of knowledge of chord-construction and melodic leading rarely grace rock music currently. David Roy’s sound and technique is in debt to Ian Williams as much as Billy Corgan, at points impishly motive and, at others, simply and righteously classic rock. The duelling guitar harmonies of album-highlight ‘Some Dresses’ recall the pomposity of Thin Lizzy, but coupled with seriousness, an aggressive fun-factor that transcends mere histrionics. The bombastic outro of closer Song One Puzzle neatly steals the same E major thunder of Cherub Rock, but lays a foundation of nimble, jittery unisonic stabs to offset it. Throughout, there is much evidence of scholarly attention – the evocations of sewing machines and spinning wheels at the end of Some Dresses is masterful, a contemporised and clarified version of genius sonic painters – notably Gretchen’s spinning wheel in Gounod’s Faust.

As a work, Hey Everyone! doesn’t so much succeed as defiantly swirl around and announce, with authority, that you’re going to listen and love. Balancing the intricacy with the exuberance has proved to be a terribly valuable tool, and one that ensures Dananananaykroyd’s appeal will extend to a healthy mix of the thoughtful and the manic. The unity they’ve created is palpable through each song, and it could make this six-piece one to remember for a long time yet.

To hear bits of this gem in a puddle of pissy pretenders or something, go here. It’s out via Best Before on April 6th. You can also see what Dananananaykroyd got up to about two months ago here. Sounds good, dunnit? This review also appears at The Quietus.


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How’s Your Week? – Dananananaykroyd

PM loves Dananananaykroyd. We’ve written about them a few times.  They’re currently on tour with the Kaiser Chiefs, but guitarist Duncan took a few moments to answer PM’s prayers and tell us about his week. This is the second week in a row that sums itself up with the word “fun”. This time it’s capitalised, too! That’s got to be a reason to get up in the mornings, yeah?

Duncan from Dananananaykroyd

In a word, how’s your week?

What did you get up to last night and how was it?

It was a day off from our European Kaiser Chiefs tour, we were in Cologne, so just hung out on our tour bus. Red wine and movies – The Warriors (went down surprisingly badly), The Salesmen (great 60’s documentary), California Man (the perfect tour bus movie) and 6 episodes of Arrested Development
What’s for dinner tonight and who’s cooking it?

We’re in Luxembourg, and there’s catering on the tour! I’ve not seen the menu yet, but we’ve had salmon, brie-stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon, mushroom risotto, leek potato and parmesan pie. So fingers crossed for tonight!

What have you listened to today and did you like it?
I was woken up by John and Calum listening to the Dutch Uncles album. But I love it so much there wasn’t an ounce of annoyance. They’ve created a near perfect album, but no one really seems to know about it. Then Marnie Stern’s new album came on, that’s pretty good too!

What’s your favourite/least favourite thing that’s happened this week?

Favorite – Either being asked to play Pukkelpop in August, or getting a tour bus with bunks for the first time! Personal space on tour! This changes everything!

Least favorite – I can only speak for John and I, but missing Lost coming back is pretty frustrating.

(Duncan answered these questions on January 23rd)

Pure genius. Dananananaykroyd are bringing their wall of cuddles ‘happenings’ to the UK again very soon, see their MySpace for details. See you at the Hoxton show! Their debut album, Hey Everyone, promises to be the best thing pretty much ever. For tedious tight-arse press reasons, PM has only been able to listen to four tracks from it. Rest assured, though,  that these four tracks are better than anything that ever happened to you.

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