U.K. export Don Broco is yet another example of how books should not be judged by their covers. The band’s casually posh style and clean-cut, everyman appearance might lead to assumptions that the quartet performs in the adult contemporary vein of Maroon 5, or with the youthful charm of One Direction. While the group does adhere to traditional songwriting structures in its music, the opening guitar chords of “Money.Power.Fame” — its debut track in the United States, which went into rotation on SiriusXM’s Octane channel on Oct. 28 — shows the group delivering a much more muscular type of pop-rock.
This dichotomy between looks and sound isn’t a complete accident: Don Broco realizes that with the countless musical acts that have a presence online, listeners have a harder time cutting through the chaff to find something they really like. So the band’s fashion-forward ways aren’t just its personal taste, they’re also designed to make a lasting visual impression.
“For artists, it’s more important than ever to embrace what makes you you and use it to stand out from the pack and get people listening to your songs,” observes vocalist Rob Damiani. “When it comes to fashion, a lot of rock bands don’t do this, and tend to dress quite similarly. Maybe they want to look part of a scene or don’t care, but for us, this is just what we wear. Clothes are another expression of our individuality, and like the music we play on bills that don’t always suit us, I think we get a kick out of surprising people.”
The bills that Damiani refers to are the festivals and tours the Bedford, England, band has joined since forming in 2008. Don Broco has played such mixed-genre affairs as the Reading and Leeds Festivals for the past five years, but it has also headlined the 2015 Kerrang Tour, an event that’s known for its hard rock and metal bent. Don Broco even toured U.K. arenas with 5 Seconds of Summer in April, and is now on the road with metalcore stars Bring Me the Horizon through November. Damiani chalks this up to Don Broco’s mix of musical influences.
“Listening to all types of music ourselves, we’ve never been worried about trying to fit into a certain scene or preconception of what a ‘rock’ band should be. Good music transcends genre, so we just try and write the best songs we can and hope people like them, whatever band they see us play with.”
But traversing these different worlds wasn’t always easy. “Starting out, this made things kind of tough,” Damiani explains. “Promoters like to put on genre-specific nights and we never really fitted a bill. But usually, once people had caught us live, they gave us a shot. We stuck out like a [sore] thumb, either being the heaviest band on an indie night or the poppiest band on a metal night, but we kind of liked it.”
Now that the band is working to break into the States after signing here with SharpTone Records, it is ironically appropriate that “Money.Power.Fame.,” taken from its second album, Automatic (due Nov. 11), is the track that heralds Don Broco’s stateside introduction. The title lists the aspirations of many bands that often think that reaching those goals will automatically equate to happiness. Don Broco is already experiencing this existential dilemma, which is what “Money.Power.Fame.” is about: the realization that “despite everything we could achieve with the band, we might never be content,” muses Damiani.
Watch the video for “Money.Power.Fame.” below:
The frontman recalls attending the annual Reading Festival while he was growing up and fantasizing about playing it one day. Don Broco was born after one such festival weekend. “A few years later, we’d worked our way up the billing to the main stage,” he explains. “It was a massive one for the bucket list, and I guess we thought by doing something like that we’d get a real sense of fulfillment, but we didn’t. We loved the shows — they were incredible — but once we got over the high of actually doing it, we just wanted to chase the next one. It was the same for our first album [2012’s Priorities], signing to a major label, selling out tours…”
Despite feeling satisfaction with these accomplishments, “the goal posts are always moving,” says Damiani. “You want to sell more records, play bigger venues, headline the festivals. I think this is a pretty normal process anyone with a bit of ambition goes through. It’s what keeps us driven and moving forward, though I’m not sure it’s totally healthy. It’d be nice to just be happy.”