Its been a while since RPM first made contact with Montreals The Dangereens who describe themselves as,
“The most elegant-decadent rock n’ roll unit of the 21st century”. which is quite some boast, However, when we heard their long player ‘Tough Luck’, it was obvious they actually have the tunes to back this up. When everything settles down maybe the world at large will finally have the chance to see for themselves if this just a case of idle promises or The Dangereens are indeed the real deal. What the world needs right now is some glamorous, decadent Rock and Roll so we reached out to lead singer Hugo to find out who the hell are The Dangereens and why should we check em out and for Hugo to introduce us to the world of The Dangereens. So, Read on and get excited for The Dangereens…
Firstly, ‘Tough Luck’ (the album) was recommended by one of the writers here at RPM Online, and when he said the magic words “there is a hint of Hanoi Rocks in here” I knew I had to order the record. I did and he was right. So with that in mind where would you say you sit musically on ‘Tough Luck’?
Quite frankly I don’t believe that Tough Luck should be examined as a whole (in terms of musical genres), but rather as a collection of songs that draw from various influences. There are touches of 70s glam rock, punk, power pop and southern rock, 60s garage rock, 50s R&B and rock’n’roll, 40s boogie-woogie… So, you know… I guess I’d describe it as a “glitter rhythm and punk” effort… Then again, I’m not too good with labeling my own shit. I’m sure you’d do a much better job at it 😉
How long have you been together as the Dangereens?
About 4 years
What about influences and what you wanted to achieve with the ‘Tough Luck’ long-player?
Our influences are as numerous as they are scattered… Some of the guys like 80s hard rock, heavy metal and other types of mustache music that I know nothing about. Personally, I like 3 chords, light-hearted love songs, tear-jerking outcries and obscure rock’n’roll moronities… Anything that moves and grooves, you know? One thing we all agree upon is that it’s gotta be soulful, it’s gotta have that swing, and it’s gotta sound like us. I guess my role as the leader of the gang is to take that harder edge from the other guys and make it snap, crackle and pop so that at the end of the day, every song’s a groover. I really focus on a song as a song, and not as a part of a concept or anything like that. How our album ended up sounding like an album (with a common thread and a continuation in the themes) really beats me! I still don’t know how we pulled it off…
What was the process for writing the record? Is there one main writer and how does it roll as far as jamming the songs in a rehearsal room or is there a set method?
There is a main writer: me. Now is probably a good time to introduce myself. I’m Hugo and I’m the singer. I also play rhythm guitar on the album. That being said, I’m not alone in this band, and I cannot overstate the importance of the role that the other guys have played in the writing process of this album. I like the idea of working really hard in the beginning of a project on elaborating an aesthetic and a sound that gathers (or at least tries to) a common side of every member’s personality. Once you’ve built that core, then you can start slacking and drinking, and still the songs will come pouring like it’s the monsoon.
About the writing process now… So I come up with the words, the chords and the vocal melody and I show it to the guys, and I guide them roughly towards a certain way of approaching the song. Once I see that everyone understands how the song should be approached, it’s really not mine anymore… As long as we all respect the song, I’m happy. Sometimes one of the guys will come up with something brilliant I haven’t even thought of. This is proof to me that the song lives and that it can speak, and that is always a good start. Oh, and this all has to happen in this crappy (but cheap) room we use as a jam space, and as quickly as possible. If too much effort or talking is required to get there you probably oughta let this one slide until the time is right.
As far as the process for recording the songs is concerned, we really focused on how that “core” should sound by jamming 3 times a week and by trying to build it with raw-live-off-the-floor energy. Even there, we still got to the studio unprepared and had to deal with a bunch of last minute freak-outs, but we pulled through gracefully (in my own opinion). How we managed to do that is beyond me as well. I believe in my heart that rock’n’roll is about sensibility, and that’s not something you can prepare or train. I guess that what I really mean is that rock’n’roll is about laziness (haha).
How have you dealt with the release with touring being off the agenda?
We had absolutely no idea things were gonna freeze like that… We figured we’d release the album a bit later than expected (May instead of April), but still in time for the summer. We thought we’d be out of this shitshow by then… we were wrong. I guess that’s why we’re musicians and not global medical analysists… analysisticians?… analysts? (haha)
Is there any music written for a follow-up?
Oh hell ya! If there’s anything good about this pandemic, it’s that it pushed me to write new material. We’ve got about 10 new songs now that we can’t wait to share with y’all!
You preceded the album with a pair of tracks ‘Lucky In Love and Holy Water, why were they left off the album? They are two totally different numbers and show a real maturity in the writing and I love a saxophone in my Rock and Roll and Jay plays a major part in the sound?
The label we’re affiliated with for distribution (ALIENSNATCH! Records) suggested to take them out. They were initially supposed to be on the album. I agree with you that they add a certain depth to the band’s repertoire as they are slower songs. We might reissue the album including the 2 singles one day…
Blue Jay is a wonderful guy. We love working with him. He comes from a jazz background and everything he added on the album came out naturally. We hope to work with him on future recordings.
The album has a classic feel to it but also sounds fresh and versatile. Do you have a particular track that you love? If I was to tell someone about this new band I’m playing called Dangereens what would you suggest I play them and how would you describe it?
Thank you! We love working with old-school material like tape machines and 60s transistor soundboards because they force you to commit to decisions. The entire album was recorded on analog devices and I guess it gives it this naturally compressed and warm sound which we now consider “classic”. I don’t want to get into the details of analog recording because it bores the daylights out of me, but I can say it also made the recording and mixing process a whole lot faster because we’d rarely go back to fix mistakes (mistakes are a crucial part of the Dangereens’ sound) and because we didn’t need to colour the sound with a bunch of VST’s or anything like that. During the mix, it was mostly a matter of making certain things shine a bit more and leave other things in the background and Ryan Battistuzzi made a phenomenal job at that.
About my preferred numbers, usually, my favorite song is the last one I wrote. Having let some time pass now, I’d say my favorite ones are Microwave Boogie for the story-telling type of lyrics and the general delivery of the band, Love Jive for the pedal steel arrangements and guitar works, and Hearse Driving Blonde for the simple, uplifting vibe. Tomorrow I might say something else though.
The band is quite different from the one that released that first EP back in 2018 even if those songs are excellent again showing the versatility within the band both being able to just Rock and Roll on ‘Reign Of your mind’ and then the acoustic side as on ‘Libertine’ and the two tacks you released on Bandcamp that covered show you delved deep into the back catalogue of rock and roll. Why those two tracks in particular?
Yes, the EP marks a different era. As a matter of fact, we were another band back then, literally. We were 4, Yan, who plays piano on the record, was our drummer, and we had another bass player, Miles. After Yan and Miles left, they were replaced with Olivier (actual drummer) and Jordan (actual bass player). As I was saying before I like to write/compose for the band I have. These new cats have different artistic orientations and tastes, and I feel it is my duty to represent that in the songs, you know?
About the cover songs, it’s very simple… We initially booked 2 days of studio to record the 14 rhythm tracks (the 12 Tough Luck songs + Lucky In Love and Holy Water). Thing is, we were so hot on the 1st day, we ended up canning 12 of them, leaving only 2 for the second day. I then decided we’d use the remaining time to record live-off-the-floor performances, 50s style. Break Up was already part of our live set and High Blood Pressure is just a song I love so I showed it to the guys on the day of the recording and off we went!
As for live shows, how long has it been since you last played and what are the plans? Is Europe a possibility when it’s safe to do so?
When the pandemic hit us, we had just come back from a 3 days mini-tour in the US. We played Brooklyn, Manhattan and Boston. All three shows went incredibly well and we made awesome friends (shouts to Muck and The Mires who rocked our socks off)! Man, were we riding high… Also, we were planning a Europe end of summer tour so you can bet your bottom dollar we’ll come around as soon as borders open!
What about promo videos any more planned?
We made the one for Streets of Doom (it’s on our Youtube channel, Dangereens Official) and another one that should be out anytime soon! I can’t tell you for which song though 😉
Going back to the album. I love songs like ‘Thieves’ and ‘Worried Mind’ and would love to hear them played live. When I’ve been playing the record I hear bits of inspiration from bands like thin Lizzy and some traditional boogie-woogie mixed with the likes of Hanoi or a bit of Bolan boogie the whole thing just rocks, and a whole bunch of others that jump out to me, in a sound or maybe a chorus or melody. the way you mix up the influences on ‘1003’ with the sax and some fine piano playing whilst keeping it fresh is something not a whole bunch of bands are doing right now it would be great if success on a big scale was around the corner. They do say it comes in waves and we’re just about ready for Rock and Roll to dominate the charts again. How was the album recorded? songs like ‘Little Uptown Girl’ sound like they were one live take would that be a fair assumption?
Aww, now you’re gonna make me blush (haha)! I don’t know about rock’n’roll dominating the charts, but it doesn’t really matter to us anyway… The way I see it, this band is all about good times, and good times never go out of style (although we all may feel that way these days). All those bands you’ve mentioned are definitely up there in our spiritual altar, but we also listen to more recent stuff. To me, a good song is a good song. It doesn’t matter if it’s rock’n’roll or new age, you know? When I write a song, I think of the melody and rhythm first, then I lay words on it. The fact that they end up sounding the way they do is because of the way we naturally approach music as a band. Rockin’ and rollin’ is part of our daily routine.
About the recording process, we start by recording the rhythm (drums, bass and guitars) tracks altogether, then we do overdubs for vocals and other instruments (saxophone, trumpet, piano, organ, strings, etc.). In my opinion, the more elements you record simultaneously, the better it sounds. Giving that we were working with a 16 tracks tape machine and in a small basement room, it would’ve been impossible to achieve recording everything all at once, but at least we got to work off of our live rhythm tracks, without using a click. Saying that our songs sound like they’re live takes is possibly the best compliment you could’ve given me! A song is like a picture, you know? It’s about capturing that unique moment in time. You can always take a snap of some willow tree by a lake, then photoshop Kate Moss kissing you on the cheek underneath it later, but eventually someone will figure out that shit’s not sitting right…
Ok enough of me waffling, what plans have Dangereens for the future? the next record? Singles?, Tours? and where is the best place people reading this can get the album in physical format from obviously digital copies its Bandcamp right?
It sucks because I can’t tell you much about the future since we are in the midst of negotiations and I don’t want to jinx it, but we’ve got BIG plans… All I can say is you’re gonna see a lot more of us in 2021 going forward!
To get a physical copy of our album, you can go through ALIENSNATCH! Records
‘ Bandcamp page. They’re also available through Green Noise Records
for North America. Otherwise, if you’re in Montreal, hit us on Facebook
and we’ll come and deliver it to you. We have black and clear red vinyl. They look and sound amazing! As for digital, you can find us on all platforms (Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, Amazon Music, etc.) or buy a digital copy via Bandcamp
So there you have it, The Dangereens ladies and Gentlemen now hit up some of the links and check out the music. Thanks to Hugo for being so generous with his time.