The amount of attention punk power trio Danko Jones is getting these days, after six long years of playing, may be whipping others into a frenzy, but it’s not freaking them out.

“We’re pretty grounded at this point,” said the band’s brash frontman and guitarist Jones, speaking by cellphone yesterday before a club show in London, Ont.

“We’ve been told we suck, and we’re going nowhere, by people who probably don’t have a job in the music business anymore.”

Jones formed the band with music scene pals Damon Richardson on drums and John Calabrese on bass in 1996, and they quickly rose out of Toronto’s club scene.


Their latest CD, Born Like a Lion, features 11 tunes including a number of fast and furious rants, lashing out at everything from blues in Play the Blues to screwed-up girls in Suicide Woman. (That one is Jones’ favorite because it’s about a real person. Lyrics like “she may look pretty/ but she’s ugly as hell,” should give you an indication of their current relationship status.)

Scoring a European record label, bolstered by heavy touring, has been one of their keys to mounting overseas success.

Now in their 20s, the self-managed group is on six labels in five countries around the world, including a recent licensing deal with Universal Canada. And they’ve played their kind of music — and called all the business shots — along with the way.


“That’s probably what I’m most proud of,” said Jones, “what the band has done despite everyone telling us ‘do this or do that.’ We’ve stuck to our guns.”

Sticking to their guns has meant lots and lots of international and Canadian touring — by spring it will be almost a solid year — and a dedication to putting on some of their tightest, hardest-playing shows to date.

“That’s basically what we started the band to do, to play,” said Jones. “We played shows where there were no T-shirts on sale, no merchandise on sale … just for the love of it. I don’t know how we did it, but we did.”

One of the group’s latest coups had them hand-picked by The Rolling Stones to open their Toronto club show in August.

It was a heady experience, one which Jones was happy to let pass by without a face-to-face meeting with the band.

“The other guys did. I didn’t and I’m fine with that,” he said. “Never meet your heroes.”