To compensate for a 40-hour work week, scientists recommend 50 to 60 hours of sleep per week. Must be nice — Danko Jones hasn’t had a nap since kindergarten. Fronting the loudest, proudest, suavest, sexiest, heaviest, heartiest power trio in the world for the past 10 years has been a full-time job — no coffee breaks, no lunch hours, no sick days, no vacations. But he does it for you because he knows spare time is a crime — close your eyes, and you lose sight of the prize.
The thing is, the man couldn’t take a day off even if he wanted one. Just as the man and the band finished up a year of international touring in support of their second album WE SWEAT BLOOD — released in Europe and Canada in 2003 — Danko was invited to do a series of spoken-word shows in Europe to talk about his life and love of music, as documented on 2004’s THE MAGICAL WORLD OF ROCK. And then he had to tend to his radio show of the same — broadcast weekly on Stockholm’s Rocket 93.5FM and syndicated around the world — on which he spins everything from soul classics to the deepest underground metal. And then just when it seemed like it was time to head back to the studio, Danko received word that America was finally starting to heed the call: that is, WE SWEAT BLOOD’s ferociously funky single, “Lovercall,” which became a request-line hit on US Active Rock Radio in the summer of 2005 (and of course led to even more touring).
But just when you think you’ve caught up with Danko Jones, he’ll leave you in the dust. Even though America is only beginning to recover from the brute force of WE SWEAT BLOOD, Danko Jones has unleashed album No. 3: SLEEP IS THE ENEMY. If 2002’s BORN A LION taught us how to play the blues, and WE SWEAT BLOOD put the pedal to the metal, SLEEP IS THE ENEMY matches the menace with equally muscular melodies, making clear what the fans back home in Toronto have known since ’96: Danko Jones is one of last true soul singers of our time.
But just because he’s singing harmonies doesn’t mean he means no harm: the anti-romance anthem “Don’t Fall in Love” may ride a hand-clapped two-chord groove reminiscent of The Undertones’ power-pop classic “Teenage Kicks,” but it delivers a kick to the head instead. And even though Danko will politely ask, “Do you kiss on the first date?” (“First Date”), he rips through it like someone who’s not about to wait for an answer.
SLEEP IS THE ENEMY is an album about drugs, though, of course, the only ones Danko Jones likes to ingest come with a booty, not in a bottle. But then women are the most addictive drug of them all: he knows they ruin his life, but he can’t get enough of them. One minute he’s giving them “The Finger” (and not in the nice way) but then on “Invisible,” he tells a certain sweetheart that “I’d rip my nuts off just for you” (while guest vocalist John Garcia — from motherfuckin’ Kyuss! — offers moral support). No wonder the guy can’t get any peace at night.
But Danko Jones uses insomnia to his advantage, harnessing all that restless energy and all those nights spent tossing and turning into uncompromising, unrelenting rock ’n’ roll music to wake up the world. If SLEEP IS THE ENEMY, then Danko Jones is your hero.