Rob Damiani, (seen here second from the right), lead vocalist with Don Broco, chats with Kevin Cooper about getting drunk at Rock City, swopping Oasis’ Definitely Maybe for a Spice Girls album, their latest album Technology and their current tour of the UK.

Rob Damiani is the lead vocalist with English rock band, Don Broco. Other band members include guitarist Simon Delaney, bass player Tom Doyle and drummer Matt Donnelly. Their debut album Priorities was released in August 2012, followed up by Automatic in August 2015.

The band’s origins go back to before their university years during high school, attending Bedford Modern School, where they played their first gigs, but it was not until after studying at Nottingham University that they decided to become a band.

They first toured the country in November 2008, playing gigs in places such as Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester, Swindon and Watford, amongst others and in 2009 they made an appearance at Download Festival as well as supporting Enter Shikari.

They have released five singles from their third album Technology; Pretty, Technology, Stay Ignorant, T-Shirt Song and Come Out To LA”. The band have gone on to play to a sold out crowd at London`s Alexandra Palace in November, 2017, their biggest show to date.

Whilst currently on tour, Rob Damiani took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Hi Rob how are you today?

Very good thank you Kevin, how are things with you?

All is good thanks and let me just say thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

It’s no problem, thanks for having me.

And just how is life treating you at this moment in time?

What can I say, life at the moment is really good thanks. Having said that we have been extremely busy leading up to the recent release of the album. There were, I have to say, lots of last minute things that we needed to sort out for both the album release and the current tour (laughter). We actually needed to learn how to play the new songs which is something that I feel we have left a little to the last minute but I am sure, fingers crossed, that all will nicely fall into place (laughter).

On the subject of the new album, Technology, I have to say that I have been playing it for a couple of weeks and I have to say that I think that it is a great piece of work.

Thank you, thank you very much.

Are you happy with the album?

Oh yes, we are all very happy with it. I think that you have got to be happy with whatever you put out. I don’t think that we have ever put out an album that we were not happy with but there is definitely a positive feeling this time around that we have managed to better our last album. However, who knows, I could probably listen to the album in a year’s time or two years time and think ‘oh no, we messed that one up’ (laughter). Having said that, I am quietly confident that we have done our best and pushed ourselves, and that we have written some pretty decent songs. It’s exciting knowing that it is finally out there.

The reason I asked was because this was the notoriously difficult third album.

(Laughter) that’s right, yes it was. This album most definitely has had its fair share of ups and downs, and I would say there were a few more frustrations with the timing of its release with this one more than anything. Having been warned about the potential difficult third album syndrome, and let me tell you, you really do hear a lot of people talking about it in those terms (laughter). The way that we approached it was that we all agreed that we were not going to overthink anything. We took the decision not to worry about anything this time around and not give ourselves a chance too. So we actually gave ourselves two months in which to write the album, and that was it.

That is what we told ourselves; we had the studio time booked in and it forced us creatively to not really give anything too much thought. If we liked what we had recorded on the first or second listen then it went in. If we didn’t like it or we couldn’t find any part of the song that worked then we simply moved on. I can’t tell you that it wasn’t stressful because I would be lying. However, it was a very quick process, and so it didn’t really give us a chance to second guess ourselves. I personally think that a lot of bands do tend to overthink themselves when dealing with the difficult third album. They think that there is a list of boxes that they have to tick this time around and they feel that they have to be more popular, more mainstream and they feel that they have to give the fans what they are expecting.

However, we simply did exactly what we wanted to do, hoped for the best, and yes it is safe to say that we didn’t quite finish recording the album within the time span that we had allocated ourselves (laughter). What did actually put us under pressure was the amount of touring that we were doing which meant that by the time that we had got to the end of the allocated studio time we had to leave the album at that point. So we actually went out on tour and then returned to the studio to finish the album at the end of the tour. I think that the creative part of the album, pushing ourselves and giving ourselves that sort of time limit, almost took the worry away from it. For us to be able to release quite a bit of the music whilst we were in the studio actually gave us a lot more confidence; a good warm feeling.

As we were recording the album we were releasing new music; getting great reactions from our fans and whilst you don’t need validation from everyone, simply because if you are happy with it then that should be good enough. However, if you are getting a positive buzz from your fan base then it was their incredible reaction to the new songs which gave us the positive energy needed to finish off the album.

A lot of the fans are already saying that Technology is your best work to date. Would you agree with them?

You are correct in saying that and that is what we are hearing from the fans. It is always wonderful to hear fans saying that your latest work is your best work to date. However, that is something that is extremely difficult to gauge yourself. We are always our worst critics but at the same time we have got songs from our first two records that we really do hate now (laughter). Okay, hate is a strong word, but let’s just say that there are songs which we now do not like playing but then a fan will come up to you after a gig and tell you that one of those songs is the song which made them like the band in the first place, they hold that particular song very close to them and they want it to be the first song played at their wedding (laughter).

That is the thing about music; it all comes down to everyone’s individual taste. Someone will always like one song more than another, everyone is different, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It really is nice whenever you hear that people are enjoying your work and they think that it is good and that it could even be your best work to date. You never want to take a step back and you never want to feel like you are getting worse (laughter). That really is not a very good place to be.

You have recently signed to SharpTone Records, how is that working out for you? Is it a good fit?

Yes it is, it is actually the first time that we have been signed to an Independent record label. For us it is amazing to be getting instant contact with the label. Creatively they are amazing at just listening to what we want to do and listening to what we want to say. Also it is amazing just how quickly they turn things around for us. When we were signed to our last record label who were one of the majors, we would send them an email enclosing an idea that we had got, or a video or something, and we wouldn’t hear anything back from them for a few weeks. There were so many people who your ideas had to go through whereas with the new label we are dealing with a small team of very passionate people.

Also with them being based over in the USA that has now opened up not just the States but the rest of the world for us, so yes, these are very exciting times for us and we feel that we are moving forward with this album which hopefully is going to take us all around the world.

Once you finished the album, were you able to walk away and leave it alone or have you been tinkering?

To be honest with you, since we finished the album we haven’t really touched it at all. We finished the album at the end of last summer and once it was done it was done. In fact we haven’t even listened to it since then (laughter). It is all that you are listening to and all that you are thinking about for so long that it is nice just to take a step back and then when people finally do hear it, then that is the time that we hear it again.

It’s then at that point that you think ‘oh, we could have done that differently’ (laughter).

(Laughter) yes that’s right. That is something that will always cross your mind and actually I will be totally honest with you, it did happen the other day (laughter). We were all listening and watching the first edit back for the new video for Come Out To LA. There is a scene in the video where I am in a stretcher being operated on; being turned into a Cyborg (laughter). During that scene there is an effect on my voice which we all called the demonic robot. That was the nickname that we gave to this effect that we had created. The guys who had the first mix demo of the video and they hadn’t quite setup the levels and so this robot voice was really high-up in the mix and I mean really stupidly high.

We obviously turned it down for the real version but with the video in mind, Matt (Donnelly) said “wow this works really well. We should go back and re-edit it” (laughter). However, we didn’t do anything to it in the end as it would have been far too much hassle. By that time the video had already been mastered but that was one thing where we thought ‘hang on a minute, there is one more thing that we can do’ (laughter). However, from my point of view I have to say that it was almost nice to be told “no you can’t, it’s too late”. At that point you can simply put the whole thing to one side.

Right, putting you on the spot, how would you sell the album to me, and why should I rush out and buy it?

Wow, that’s a really tough question (laughter). Right here goes, if you have heard of Don Broco, if you have heard us before then I would have to say that this is the best Don Broco album that we have ever put out. However, if you have never heard of Don Broco then I would have to say that it is the best rock album that you will ever hear. How’s that (laughter). However, I don’t know if that’s true but if I were trying to sell you the album, that is what I would be saying to you. What I will say is that it is a rock album that brings in a lot of different elements, if you like pop music, if you like dance music, if you grew up listening to other stuff than just rock music then I think that there is a little bit of something for everyone here.

As music listeners, let me tell you, we listen to everything under the sun and draw a lot of influence from many different genres. I think that the main thing is what it comes down to with Don Broco is that we like writing songs. A good song is a good song and we really do try to pride ourselves on both the hook and the chorus, and hopefully we write something that you can sing along to. That is our favourite thing; to play a show and get everyone there to sing the words back to us. For me, that is the best feeling in the world. So if you like all of that stuff then I guarantee that you will like the album.

You are currently touring the album here in the UK throughout February; is it going well?

Yes it is although it is early days. It has been quite a long time since we have done a proper full-length UK tour, so yes; it is great for us to be able to do that. Plus it is great for us to be able to play a few of the new songs as well.

How many of the new songs have made it onto the set list?

We are doing a good portion of the album; five or six of them. A few of the songs from the album are already out there so we will definitely be playing them. The set list is very much a greatest hits set of songs from our previous two albums, plus all the ones from the new album which people have already heard. We may even throw in another couple of newbies as well, so watch this space (laughter).

You will be playing Rock City here in Nottingham on Tuesday 13th February, are you excited?

Yes I am, I am very excited. Rock City is one of our favourite venues here in the UK. Because I went to Nottingham University I have been fortunate enough to see so many incredible bands at Rock City over the years. I have also spent many drunken nights there as well (laughter). So for me to be playing there really does feel a little like I am coming home. All of the time that I have spent in Rock City either at a show or just incredibly drunk, it is just a great place and it holds lots of memories for both me and Matt. I think that as a setup, as a venue, it is just one of the best spaces and the vibe is always absolutely incredible. The Nottingham crowds are always the best.

And what about festivals, will you be playing any this summer?

(Laughter) yes we will be but unfortunately we can’t quite announce them as yet. What I can say is that we are definitely going to be back on the festival circuit. After the forthcoming tour we will most definitely be playing a few festivals here in the UK which we are all really excited about but sorry, I can’t say where and when at this moment in time. If the weather is good then for us, playing at festivals is the highlight of the year.

Who are you currently listening to?

At the moment I am listening to the latest album by Miguel. His album War & Leisure came out towards the end of last year, and at the time we were over in Australia and so I was only able to give it a quick spin. Then Christmas came and went and as you know, over the festive season everything goes out of the window (laughter). It was only last week that I actually found the time to get back into the album. I was able to give it a proper listen to and I absolutely love Miguel. I think that he is one of the most creative and innovative pop rock, R & B artists currently out there. He is one of those guys who is able to mix it up a little bit.

Who has musically inspired you?

There have probably been far too many artists and bands to mention but with the latest album Technology, we really did look back on the bands that I guess first got us into rock music in a way that really did capture our imagination. I would have to say that we took a few pointers from the classic bands of the 90s who we were all listening to whilst we were growing up. They made the bands who were taking a few risks back then and were the bands who made us think ‘wow this is exciting and new’. They paved the way for the current wave of more alternative rock bands, people like The Deftones who I actually saw play at Rock City.

Bands such as Biffy Clyro had a massive influence on us. Also both Incabus and Muse have been a massive influence on our guitarist Simon (Delaney) and our bassist Tom (Doyle) in the sense that they are just a bunch of guys who can make such a massive sound, with just one guitarist and a relatively minimal setup. Another band who we all like and who have got a great new record out are N.E.R.D who have obviously gone down the more straight up kind of hip-hop, sampling section at the minute which they have always had but their first album In Search Of was such a huge influence on this new record of ours. I love their dirty guitars and their really trashy drum sound.

I guess that you would now have to label them as being a rock hip-hop crossover kind of band. No band has ever nailed it better than they did on that album. So yes, there have been a whole load of people who have influenced us along the way.

What was the first record that you bought?

Well I didn’t buy this but I remember that the very first album that I ever owned was Definitely, Maybe by Oasis. My dad bought me the album for Christmas. I have to own up and say that I am pretty sure that I asked him to take it back to the record shop and get me the Spice Girls album instead (laughter). He didn’t take it back but he did buy me the Spice Girls album too. That is my very first memory of music (laughter).

Who did you first see playing live in concert?

The first live gig that I went to was a covers band gig. A band called Sad But True covered Metallica, a band called Teen Spirit covered Nirvana, and I have to say that it was amazing. When you think about the number of hit records between those two bands, what a show that really was (laughter). That was the first live show that I had ever been to, and I thought ‘wow this is it’.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

That would have probably been, although I don’t know the name of the song, it would have been one of the last songs or the second to last song in, and don’t laugh, the movie La La Land (laughter). I don’t know if I actually shed a full tear but my eyes were most definitely watering. There is a final scene in the movie where it does a recap of the story which is almost a kind of future that might have been, and the emotional weight of it simply got to me. I don’t even know the name of the song but it is just a combination of the music together with the sentiment of the film. That really got to me.

You briefly mentioned that you studied at University here in Nottingham, what was the subject?

I actually studied theology so there was a bit of philosophy, and a bit of religious studies. That was my bag back at university and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I admit that it sounds like it was quite a weird one and everyone expected me to go into the priesthood. Everyone who I have ever told that to always says without fail “oh you’re not a priest then” (laughter). Joking aside I had a really good time doing it.

Rob on that note let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been interesting. Good luck with the rest of the tour and I hope to catch you somewhere soon.

No thank you Kevin, thanks for speaking to me. Nice one and I hope to see you at Rock City. Bye for now.