— by Jon Wiederhorn
Rock and roll has always embraced themes of sex and sensuality, but few artists seem to enjoy getting down and dirty as much as Danko Jones, for whom sweating, screaming and gyrating are as much a part of a performance as the music.
The Toronto trio's frontman, who alternately goes by the names the Brown Panther, the Mango Kid and Doctor Evening, writes songs that churn and grind with raw, primitive power and lyrics that unashamedly address the undressed.
" 'Lovercall' is about oral sex," he said without flinching. "It feels good, so you might as well talk about it."
For some artists, writing songs about fellatio would be an embarrassing prospect, but when you've worked as a porn store clerk before entering the music business, your standards are slightly different. Even so, the Mango Kid is a little ambivalent about his former career.
"I'd say about 85 percent of the people who consume porn are pretty disgusting," he said. "I didn't watch it for a while after I quit, 'cause I didn't want to be lumped in with that group. But eventually I came around."
Two years after their 1996 formation, Danko Jones released a self-titled EP, which was praised for being sleazy, abrasive and bluesy. On My Love Is Bold, their follow-up EP a year later, the band refined its sound, but Danko Jones didn't really find their niche until recording Born a Lion, due June 23. Unlike the EPs, which were bluesy and a little punky, the new disc reverberates with ground-shaking grooves reminiscent of Soundgarden.
But whether braying like the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion or chugging like AC/DC, Danko Jones have developed a reputation for exciting and visceral performances. A reputation in Canada, anyway, where they've played venues as large as the Maple Leaf Gardens arena. In America their audience is smaller, but for Doctor Evening that's not the point.
"We want to be known as a live band, a really good live band," he said.
That's not all he wants. Someday he wants to meet one of his idols, and it's not Ron Jeremy or Matt Zane. It's Kiss singer/bassist Gene Simmons, who has almost as much of a nefarious history.
"There's two kinds of Kiss fans," the Brown Panther said. "Whether you know it or not, there's Ace fans and Gene fans."
He paused and stuck out his tongue as far as it would go. "I'm a Gene fan."
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