Their name being a play on the batman theme and Dan Aykroyd, you’d be pretty safe in assuming that to Dananananaykroyd are a band to whom fun is very important. Their debut album Hey Everyone, a high energy mixture of punk energy and pop melodies, saw the band catapulted onto the world stage, even touring to our shores for Splendour in the Grass 2009. This tour would prove a fateful one though with drummer and vocalist John Baillie Jnr breaking his arm at the start of the tour at their Sydney show when he stage dived into nothing.
Anyway, cut to two years later and the band have just released their sophomore album There Is A Way. Showcasing more diversity to the band’s sound than the first album, the band approached the follow-up with a view to broadening their goals in the studio beyond just recreating and capturing the atmosphere and energy of their live shows.
Currently touring the album, the band are set to revisit our shores for Splendour yet again, determined to deliver the show they weren’t able to the last time around. We caught up with vocalist and drummer Callum Gunn to discuss the band’s new approach in the studio and the new album.
Music Feeds: So what has been keeping you guys busy recently?
Callum Gunn: Just making an album come out really. Played a few shows and stuff and we’ve just been gearing up for festival season really.
MF: So tell me about the new album then, how does it differ to the first?
CG: It’s more focused I think. I think the first album was sort of straight ahead because we’d written these songs very much with the view of playing them live rather than thinking about variety. So with this album we tried to think about what we could fit in other than just rock songs you know. It’s more dynamic you know, it’s got some funk on it even.
MF: Funk? Is there any slap bass?
CG: Yeah probably, Brian is a bit of a demon for that, you’ve gotta love the slap bass.
MF: Of course man, of course. I’m assuming as well it, like it’s predecessor, is very high energy?
CG: Yeah there’s definitely a lot of energy on there. It takes a lot to play the songs, and it’s a lot harder to play than the first album, so a lot of energy goes into that, but we did spend a lot of time during the recording making sure that we got as much energy as possible into the recordings. But yeah, we wanted a bit more variety on this one and I think we’ve managed to pull that off in a way that retains our same sound and aesthetic.
MF: So is it the same line-up as the last one?
CG: Well we’re just down to one drummer now, after John broke his arm in Sydney he’s moved into just being a vocalist now.
MF: Cool, is there some sort of stigma then attached to coming to play out here?
CG: We haven’t spoken about it with each other, but there is definitely a sense of coming back and playing the show we tried to the first time. When we played, we only played a song and a half, but it just felt great, like we were firing on all cylinders I think and it was going well until John broke his arm, so we’re looking to sort of recapture that with time and take it to it’s logical extreme by finishing the show this time.
MF: So have you had to change how you play the songs from the first album then?
CG: It wasn’t difficult at all, it was just a case of having one drummer really, and we’re still playing some of the better songs off the first album. I mean they were all great but we’re playing the better ones (laughs). It’s sort of good though because we can get rid of the songs that we didn’t like playing as much now that we’ve got a new batch of songs that we all like to play.
MF: Yeah, like fuck that one, it has like six key changes.
CG: Yeah, fuck that one it’s got too many words.
MF: So how does the songwriting process work? Is it jam based?
CG: No, no, usually one of our guitarists will write a song, which is generally where the songs come from, like they’ll demo a song and send it to me or John and we’ll work on vocals and stuff. Then once we’ve got something that we think is good, we’ll take it to the studio and that’s where we’ll work on it more, that’s where it ultimately comes together. The demos are the blueprints for the songs, and we don’t really come at it from a jam perspective, but it does get to a point where it’s evolving more with the group, if you know what I mean. We all work on it, but it’s not really improvised based, we think it all out.
MF: Jamming in segments then sort of? Working on different parts together rather than just running through a whole song or anything?
CG: A lot of our stuff is quite intricate, the guitar lines are really well thought out, I don’t think we could come up with it in practice, I mean we usually just play Rage Against The Machine songs in rehearsal anyway. I mean, I don’t know, we’d like to just release cover of Rage’s first album really, but I don’t think people would like that.
MF: Nah man release it for free online, people will love that?
CG: Yeah, just Rage but with horrible Scottish accents.
MF: Yeah like, (speaks in horrible Scottish accent) ‘fuck you I won’t do what you tell me?’
CG: That sounds pretty good actually, I wish I was recording this. But yeah, I like it, I think we might do that.
MF: You better give me a credit if you do.
CG: Sure. It’s on.
MF: Your music is very happy… well I don’t want to say happy hardcore, but yeah, happy music with post hardcore influences.
CG: Yeah, I mean we did toy with calling ourselves happy hardcore for a while, but we’ve settled on posi-core, you know positive core. We really do try and keep our music quite ecstatic because we’re always very ecstatic when we play it and it’s important to us for that to come through.
MF: It comes across, especially on the first album. It really captured the live sound.
CG: The first album was more like a flyer for the shows, just something to get people to come check us out, but this album is more like a cohesive body of work. I mean we love playing live and I don’t think that will ever change for us, it’s where we started you know, but it’s hard to get that energy across on the record.
MF: Was part of wanting to broaden the sound rooted in how hard it is to capture the live element?
CG: That wasn’t something that we’d really considered, we just wanted to make it sound like us. We just wanted to make sure we played with as much feeling as we could. I think a lot of that came from how we recorded it, you know we were working in a pretty live way; in the studio we’d all be round the drum kit playing and we had the engineer in there with us pumping his fists in the air and all of that, to try and get that live feel. But we definitely threw a lot more stuff at it to try and fill it out, to really make it more well rounded.
Dananananakroyd will be touring Australia off the back of their appearance at this year’s Splendour In The Grass Festival playing at Sydney’s The Annandale Hotel on July 29th and Melbourne’s Est Brunswick Club on August 1st. There Is A Way is out now on the band’s own label Pizza College.