|'Too Much Trouble: A Very Oral History Of Danko Jones' - Stuart Berman (ECW Press)|
|Written by Gaz E|
|Sunday, 13 January 2013 03:30|
I doubt that there's a Danko Jones fan on the planet at the minute who is cursing the lack of product from their favourite band.
Written - collected together, more to the point - by Stuart Berman (Pitchfork contributor and editor of Toronto magazine The Grid), 'Too Much Trouble: A Very Oral History Of Danko Jones' appears, at first glance at least, to be a coffee table book for the coolest of houses - full pages of the large form, soft cover book are taken up by (fantastic, it has to be said) photographs and it seemed like this tome was gonna be more of a 'glancer' than a 'nose-deeper'. How wrong I was.
Berman's book, and this is where the 'Oral History' part takes centre stage, is made up completely of quotes, interview segments and throwaway lines from a vast array of individuals who have found themselves, somehow, on the Mango Kid's Cadillac as it careened from Canadian garage punk promise to massive European success. Berman's skills here are highlighted not so much by the collating of eye catching lines from a cadre of impressive individuals, or even the securing of the people themselves, but by his ability to link them together so well. His skills with words and layout are such that the book reads like a comedy one minute, a drama the next, a celebration at all times however.
Berman's finest work, strangely, comes when he actually does nothing but present the reader with two sides of an argument, comment after comment - many contradictory in the extreme - laid out before you in a war of words, literally. Reminiscent of being caught in the middle of a fight that you don't wanna be in, but can't draw your eyes away from, these proper laugh out loud moments will leave every reader with but one thing on their mind; I'm siding with Danko Jones.
Talk of Danko's (or at least the artist now known as) childhood obsession with KISS will resonate with many, his discovery of new music also. Whether it be a love of Bad Brains, Arena Rock or Public Enemy, Danko's absorbing of any music that he found cool is something that I'm sure many Uber Rock readers will find a kinship with, his latter rejection by Canadian scenesters due to his love of all things heavy something I'm sure readers will find parts of their own life story wrapped up in.
A hilarious early moment of the book which details a radio show co-hosting/comedy-obsessed Danko's memorable prank call to the Jews For Jesus hotline where he quoted Metallica's 'Master Of Puppets' in a demonic voice culminating in an attempted over-the-phone exorcism, is a classic precursor to the between-song swagger that the frontman would possess (pun intended) and exhibit from the very beginning of his, and his band's, musical journey. And, boy, what a journey...
Shunned by his contemporaries in his native Toronto, former band members and record labels over the years due to everything from supporting Nickelback to a dislike of Tears For Fears, the simple fact that Danko Jones, the man and band, continues to make music by their own rules is a success story that every true rock fan should applaud. This is a band of true music outsiders that play the music that they want to play, and make no apologies for doing so: if you are in a band you'd want to be like that, surely? Channel this spirit into your everyday life and, I assure you, the world will be a better place.
An impressive, and wholly important, piece of the book's quote jigsaw puzzle is the vast amount of glowing testimonials of everyone from cult musicians to bonafide rock stars, all extolling only positive vibes in the direction of Danko Jones. Lemmy, Brant Bjork, Brendan Benson, Jello Biafra, Del James, Dizzy Reed, Blaine Cartwright, Peaches, Damian Abraham, Mike Watt, Lee Dorian, Marty Friedman, Eddie Spaghetti, Dregen, Dallas Green, Eric Davidson, Jeff Waters, John Garcia, David Vincent, Jason McMaster, Brent Hinds, Sean Yseult and Hank Von Helvete to name but a few are on hand to wax lyrical about the qualities of both band and band members, all impressed by the music and live performances yet surprised by the softly spoken off stage demeanour of The Mango Kid.
Philomena Lynott's words are some of the most touching in the entire book, which comes home at an impressive 270 pages. Her admission that Danko cried while viewing her shrine to lost son Phil paints not just a picture of a sensitive soul who transforms into a strutting, wise-cracking rock 'n' roll lion when a guitar is strapped onto his frame, but also that, like you, like me, this guy is a music fan, pure and simple: a music fan who did what we all wanted to do - move people with ass-kicking tunes. It's why the current drummer in the band was a member of a favourite group, one so important that a song dedicated to them appeared as a bonus track on 2008's 'Never Too Loud'.
More important than filling in any gaps in your knowledge of the band, more important than there now being an essential history of a cool band waiting to take centre stage on your bookshelf, 'Too Much Trouble' makes you want to listen to Danko Jones; as you read, as I type, as you search for a place selling this excellent book.