On paper, Dananananaykroyd are Another Band.
On stage, they’re The Only Band.
At least, that’s the buzz surrounding the six-piece as we roll into 2009, memories of amazing nights in the band’s company still fresh. Live, this Glasgow-based (ish) collective are more than electric; they stimulate the senses other bands can’t reach. Smiles at your average Dananananaykroyd gig have been known to split faces clean in two, so wide have they stretched.
After a handful of singles and a well-received EP, ‘Sissy Hits’, the band is now readying their debut album, ‘Hey Everyone!’. The album brings together a number of their older songs, combining them with blistering brand-new cuts sure to give established fans palpitations of admiration. It’s double-thumbs-up great, as wildly acerbic as The Blood Brothers, as energetic as early-days Idlewild, and as sing-along friendly as the best Les Savy Fav.
The album is due for release in April, and ahead of that the band – Duncan, John, Laura, David, Paul and Calum – are touring both home and abroad, crisscrossing the continent as support to Kaiser Chiefs before headlining on these shores. If you’re yet to see the band live, mark their next calling into your local venue of choice in your diary immediately. And if you’ve witnessed the joyous chaos of the Dana live experience at least once already, chances are you don’t need anyone to tell you to do it again as soon as possible.
Clash spoke to John and David about their album, South By Southwest and their forthcoming tour dates, and what the year holds for the band beyond the spring…
Hello Dananananaykroyd... For the slow-pokes at home, please tell us who you are and what you do, and when this group of yours came to be...
John: Hello, my name is John Baillie Jnr and I sing and play drums.
David: Hello slow-pokes. My name is David Roy and I play the guitar in the rock band Dananananaykroyd. We started the band in 2006. Basically, on the internet (of all places), an invite was sent out between friends of the Glasgow music scene to join a brand new rock band focused on party fun-times and huge riffage, indie-pop slapstick guff too. Everyone we asked joined and we practised tons and played our first show in March of that year. Since then, we've gone through a few changes, but I won't bore you any further with that nonsense.
'Hey Everyone!' is coming out in April... You must be pretty excited to have an album almost out. Do you expect the record to meet, or even exceed, the expectations of your fans? Did it exceed your own expectations?
John: We are all very, very excited to have people hear it. I find it somewhat difficult to guess what our fans’ expectations of us are sometimes – with six people in the band all contributing, what the essence of our sound is can change from person to person. We tend to try and make musical decisions without outside influence... this is a long way of saying: I REALLY HOPE PEOPLE LIKE THE ALBUM, WE ARE VERY HAPPY WITH IT.
David: So, so excited like you wouldn't believe. It's been a nightmare! But it's great to finally have this record good to go. Having lived with the songs for so long and knowing in my brains what I wanted it to sound like, the track listing, pretty much all the itty-bitty details and all that sort of thing, it has definitely lived up to how I had imagined it would be. Some fans will obviously have their own ideas and I hope they enjoy it. Some will be disappointed to find a bunch of tracks they already know all too well, but we're looking at the big picture of getting this record out to everyone all across the world and all the brand new, potential fans, I feel, are in for a treat. I'm really proud of the record. I mean, it's definitely not perfect, it has its flaws, but it wouldn't be a Dana record if it didn't arrive slightly soiled.
The album follows last year's 'Sissy Hits' EP, which racked up the plaudits rather brilliantly. Did the reception of that release make you think: 'Shit, there might just be something to this band thing'?
John: To be honest it made me excited because I knew that ‘Sissy Hits’ hadn't even scratched the surface of what we could do on a recording.
David: It got some great reviews and knowing that we could do so much better made it all the sweeter; but we take things slowly, and we don't get too ahead of ourselves. ‘Sissy Hits’ was, at the time, just the next step for us and it got us a record deal and, ever since then, we've gradually adjusted to being a full-time band. But we're still so incredibly small-time that we're not thinking that a few great reviews is the start of anything major; it’s merely a nudge in the right direction. We always thought the album would be more of a stepping-stone towards that than the EP, and that is still a good few months off.
You're referred to, regularly, as one of the best live bands in Britain - a fair comment? Do you aim to always give 100 per cent, and if so have there been nights where you've struggled to give it your all? Is it hard postponing gigs, given your reputation and the excitement that seems to follow you?
John: Personally, it’s not a choice to give 100 per cent or not sometimes. If I'm not feeling too good and I plan to take it a bit easier, it goes straight out the window two songs in. I always say the first and last songs are the toughest physically. Once you’re on the second song your adrenaline has kicked in; by the time you are on the last, it’s run out.
David: I don't know if it's a fair comment or not. I'm sure there are a lot of hard-working bands that would completely disagree. I'm flattered that people think that of us, though. We always aim to play every show as though it's our last and to give 20 people the same energetic and hard-rocking performance as we would 2,000. The fact that it's almost impossible to play so many shows in a row with that mentality means we sort of fail every now and then, and that can get us down. Sometimes it's just completely flat and we can't do it. So much of what we do can be reliant on an audience being there to see us, and an atmosphere, and when that doesn't happen we are most certainly not one of the best live bands in Britain. But we do try to give our all for every show and to make sure everyone there remembers us, even if it is simply for being annoying losers with horrible pain music. Why does that band exist and why are they touching me when I hate them? That sort of thing. As for postponing gigs, we'd still feel completely horrible about that inside, even if we were crap live.
You're playing some massive venues with Kaiser Chiefs... are you gonna pull out the Wall of Cuddles? Have you ever played a stage so big you've been, y'know, a little frightened of it?
John: We love a challenge, and frankly the Wall of Cuddles is usually a case of 'the more people the better'. I got nervous before the Barrowlands show in Glasgow with Foals, but other than that I rarely get scared, just really excited usually.
David: I'm never frightened by the size of an audience. We've already played some of the biggest stages in the UK and we lapped up every minute of it once we got out there. The Wall of Cuddles has maybe run its course; now, we're into making people get fake married than having them simply hug strangers, but you never know. Some Kaiser Chiefs fans might actually be into our music, so you never know what could happen in that weird and unlikely situation (laughs).
What's the comedown gonna be like when you headline again, calling at venues like the Adelphi in Hull?
John: Little venues are awesome. On our last tour we did a handful of shows where we were chatting with the crowd with no mics, because it was so quiet. It’s great to be able to have that level of interacting and to focus your attention on a few people.
David: It's going to be so great getting back to a fired-up crowd who are paying to see us rock them all over that we will be so excited! Don't get me wrong, Hull is the epicentre of all that is evil and warped with the world, but what better place to start our next UK tour than that? Bring it on you amazing douchebags!
You're off to SXSW - have touring buddies of yours filled you in on that event? Excited or worried - there's a lot of meat out there.
John: We're pretty excited. It kinda feels like we are going to the competition at the end of The Karate Kid, in the way that it somehow feels like it will be competitive with so much going on. I’d be worried about it if we were the kind of people that took what we do really seriously, but we just want the people who see us live to have fun.
David: Our friends are telling us it's the best time of your life. I can't wait. It's going to be such a fine reward for such a grueling touring schedule beforehand. I'm a vegetarian, so I will admit to being a little worried by all the meat.
What's up for the band after April? Festivals? Any you really, really want to play?
John: I DJ'd at Glastonbury two years ago and it was special, so I'd like to go back there, but I'm up for as many festivals that will have us.
David: We really want to just play each and every one that will have us. We've never played any major festivals and have always felt that we'd go down quite well at them. So bring that on too! I guess a slot at T In The Park would be really special, but I can't see them caring too much about us quite yet.
Can you lend me a tenner?
John: Yeah, but I need it back on Friday because flanner nullerflops ida bingalongshlak. (WTF? – Ed)
David: No, sorry, I just bought a PlayStation 3 and I'm bit light.
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Dananananaykroyd’s ‘Hey Everyone!’ album is released via Best Before on April 6; their track ‘Pink Sabbath’ was released as a single last year and features in our Clash Top 40 of 2008 HERE.
The band (MySpace) tours the UK as follows…
26 Hull Adelphi
27 Coventry Tin House
28 Oxford Bullhouse
29 Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
31 Cambridge Portland Arms
1 Sheffield The Harley
2 London Hoxton Bar & Kitchen
3 Manchester Deaf Institute
4 Liverpool Korova
5 Newcastle The End
6 Glasgow Playroom @ The Arches
Photo: Amy Brammall