Don Broco's Rob Damiani Picks 6 Game-Changing Nu-Metal Records | Revolver

Don Broco's Rob Damiani Picks 6 Game-Changing Nu-Metal Records

From Limp Bizkit to Linkin Park, singer tells stories behind rap-rock that most influenced his creative development
don-broco-rob-damiani-live-by-tompullenphoto-web-crop.jpg, Tom Pullen Photo
Don Broco's Rob Damiani
photograph by Tom Pullen Photo

Revolver has teamed up with Don Broco for an exclusive vinyl variant of their new album, Amazing Things, on white wax. It's limited to 350 — order yours now before they're gone!

England's Don Broco have steadily been blurring the boundaries between post-hardcore, alternative rock, and pop since forming in 2008. But perhaps for the first time since the group's earliest efforts, their new Amazing Things album also finds the foursome reveling in the blustering, new-millennial bounce of nu-metal. Having all grown up breaking stuff to Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach records, it's a return to form, of sorts.

"What we wanted to do was take the aggression, the swagger and the creativity of nu-metal," vocalist Rob Damiani explains of reinterpreting the genre, which he and his bandmates — drummer/vocalist Matt Donnelly, guitarist Simon Delaney and bassist Tom Doyle — first gravitated towards in their adolescence. "When it first popped, it was just so exciting, and that's probably why it became so big. But it very quickly became boring — there were just a million second rate, copycat Limp Bizkits and Linkin Parks. It all sounded the same."

Parallels can definitely be drawn between vintage, backwards cap–sporting rap-rock and Don Broco's "Manchester Super Reds No. 1 Fan," which pits Damiani's fully barked hip-hop flow against chunky riffing and a decidedly funked-up, yet pummeling, backbeat. That said, it's all part of a broader musical horizon.

The ultra-thick "Revenge Body," for instance, works a meaty, "Bulls on Parade"–channeling riff, but likewise spirals into the modern-day squelches of EDM production. "Swimwear Season" comingles poolside bossa nova with a codeine-hazy blur of Deftones-style heaviness. While certainly inspired by nu-metal, these are grace notes — albeit monstrous ones — in the band's ever-expanding approach.

All the same, Damiani was more than happy to get into how heyday hits from some of nu-metal's most iconic acts ultimately pushed Don Broco towards shaping a hybrid theory of their own.

Limp Bizkit - Significant Other

I'm pretty sure it was Matt's brother that first leant us his Significant Other CD. I'd been listening to pop-punk, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica. All my friends were listening to Eminem, and Dr Dre's 2001 record. When we got to Significant Other everything just clicked. It was like, Oh my god, all these different ideas — these bands and rappers I'm listening to — are right here in this one band! I'd never felt so cool listening to music before. I remember really vividly that in our school, the first people in the common room got control of the CD player. So, many morning breaks we'd rush to the common room so we could blast Significant Other.

Between the aggression and the swagger, Limp Bizkit are the perfect jumping-on-point for the genre — and not only musically, but visually. You had this crazy contradiction in styles! You've got Fred [Durst] in his red cap and baggy jeans, just looking like a total G; and then you've got Wes [Borland] who's in makeup, the contact lenses and the crazy outfits. This isn't what I thought the band would look like, but it works. Sometimes bands have these really super strong personalities — creatively, sonically and visually — that would not usually work together, but somehow this clash of worlds creates something super original. For me, they were the first band where it felt like they're part of this new sound, this new genre that was about to take over. And it did! That's the crazy thing, Limp Bizkit became the biggest band in the world, [even though] the music they're playing was so heavy, in-your-face and obnoxious.

Deftones - White Pony

Deftones gave me a new understanding of heavy music. I'd heard "My Own Summer" and loved it, but I don't think I'd gotten Around the Fur [before White Pony was released]. I remember seeing the "Back to School (Mini Maggit)" video on MTV, obviously an edit of "Pink Maggit." I've seen some interviews where they say they didn't like that version of it. But whoever commissioned that video, especially, was a marketing genius. There were all these high school movies coming out — think Blink 182 in American Pie — this whole thing of American high school culture that I know everyone in the U.K. was watching. Everyone was skateboarding, all that kind of stuff. I remember seeing that video thinking, These guys look cool … Let me give these guys a go. I bought White Pony, but I don't think I was ready for the impact of how much it would change my understanding of that type of music. It had that swagger and bravado [of nu metal], but not the obvious energy of the vocals. [Chino Moreno's] vocals felt so cool, everything was slower. It just tapped into this whole emotional landscape that other bands didn't use so much. It's a perfect contradiction to the flamboyancy and almost stupidness of nu metal as a genre. [White Pony's] "Passenger" is still probably my favorite song of all time. It's incredible.

One of the scariest moments I've ever experienced as a performer was when, very early in our career, Chino came to a show we were doing. I think it was an Atticus Christmas party in London. It was super awkward. It's a Christmas party, so everyone is getting drunk on free booze. We're playing to basically no one — it was just our manager on the dance floor, and he's also wasted. Then we see Chino walk in, walk backstage, get a drink and then sit down on the stage. I was quite self-conscious; it might've been before our first album came out. We didn't really think about writing good songs when we first started out, we just [wrote enough] to play a show. I remember thinking at the time, If Chino is ever going to watch us again, we need better songs. We met him very briefly after [the set] and he was super complimentary, but I think he was just being nice.

Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory

One of my lasting memories is me and my younger brother, Michael, singing and dancing in front of the mirror as little kids. We used to dance around to Michael Jackson, making up routines. As teenagers, we'd be doing Linkin Park, sharing Mike [Shinoda] and Chester [Bennington's] vocals: switching it up like, "I'll be Mike now, and you're Chester." We knew the whole [Hybrid Theory] album front-to-back. It's probably a testament to how well written the songs are. There was no fat on them; they were simple bangers. "In the End" was such an epic-sounding song, but I loved the heaviness of "Papercut" as well.

We toured with [Linkin Park's] Mike [Shinoda] a few years ago. That was a dream come true! We did a few shows with them in Germany, and then Mike invited us out on a U.S. tour. About halfway through the tour, the tour manager said, "Mike would like to have a word with you.' It felt like I was going to get told off by the headmaster. I was like, Shit, what have I done wrong? He invited me into his bus, we got into chatting about random stuff, and then he said, "I want to know if you would perform a song with me. What Linkin Park song would you want to do?" I had to get back to him. Chester was incredible as a vocalist. His range is phenomenal — an absolute powerhouse. I can't think of a better vocalist than him. I was trying to sing the songs, but I didn't know if it would work — they're ridiculously hard to pull off. Luckily, I found a song in a lower range that we could do, "A Place for My Head." Simon came and played guitar on it, too.

Before the first one, though, I had a mind blank. Suddenly I was like, Oh my god, I've forgotten the first line. I remember turning to my tour manager literally seconds before we were going onstage — he's Googling it, we're panicking. He asks their tour manager, who asks Mike. I didn't want Mike to know, but he's pro; so cool. "It's this … don't worry about it." We did it, and it was amazing. We did it for the rest of the tour. Just the best.

Papa Roach - Infest

Obviously people know "Last Resort" as the big banger from this album — and it is — but people do forget how good the rest of that album is. They were pretty much the reason I went to my first proper concert. I'd been to see a Metallica tribute act at my local venue, as well as a Nirvana tribute act. Then Ozzfest was coming to Milton Keynes, which isn't far from the town we're from, Bedford. We'd got a few friends to go, and Papa Roach were the main band I went to see. That was the cool thing about Ozzfest: it had classic metal acts you'd heard of — I'd dipped into Black Sabbath a bit — but Ozzfest really embraced that nu-metal wave coming through. Mudvayne were on there as well; Slipknot, too. Hed (PE) were playing as we drove in.

I remember Papa Roach being the personal highlight. I'd never seen anything like it before. Jacoby [Shaddix] is the most high-energy frontman, he just gives it his all. You don't want to just see people playing the tunes, you want to see them immersed in the music and losing it, and that's what [Papa Roach] give you. I saw them again at Sonic Temple two years ago, when they headlined. Again, it was just mind-blowing how good this band can be.  At the top of their game. One of my favorites.

Incubus - S.C.I.E.N.C.E.

I wanted to talk about Incubus. I got into them on Morning View, which definitely took it away from the whole nu-metal thing. I got into S.C.I.E.N.C.E. a few years after they released it — they embrace the funk, and feel-good nature of rock music. They're a huge influence on Don Broco, and have been since our inception. Brandon [Boyd's] voice is just so luxurious and sexy. You don't have to have someone shouting over everything! You can have these smooth silky vocal tones that can serve as an amazing counterpoint to when you want to go crazy with the music. That album is wicked, their creativity is weird and exciting. You don't know what's going to happen next — you've got DJ scratches, the bass guitar gets its moment in the sun for me. A big influence on not just this [latest Don Broco] record, but all of our records, to some degree.

System of a Down - Toxicity

You have so many memories associated with the first time you hear a record. I listened to [Toxicity] with a friend, which is why it sticks in my memory. We'd heard "Chop Suey!" and loved it, just intrigued about how crazy it was. I remember going down to our local record store, us both buying a copy of the album, and going back to my bedroom, just listening to it and not saying anything. Both of us were at a loss for words, but it awoke something in us.

There's a lot to unpack on that record. There's less of the talky, rappier style vocals in System; they do it a little bit, but it's not their go-to. But [Toxicity] brings together all the elements that make nu metal such an exciting genre of music: it's heavy as fuck and totally wild. No rules. It's got time signatures that pull the rug out from you. "Chop Suey!" is such a wildly structured song, but it's a bona fide hit. The album brings together these random moments, but it's super playful as well. They don't stick to any traditional heavy-music metal restrictions. The way they brought their take on Armenian folk music into it is mind-blowing, something I'd definitely never heard before. Lyrically as well, it's super interesting. I remember at the start of the record with "Prison Song" — you know, it's a song about the U.S. prison system. It kind of opened my ears to music that touches on political ideas and references.

 I just think it's incredible how they don't give a fuck. They do whatever they want, cram a lot of ideas into the songs, and still make it work. One of the first songs we ever wrote was a song called "Thug Workout," which was like my attempt at being as interesting as System of a Down. It definitely wasn't. [Laughs] We kind of moved away from that, but on [Amazing Things] I feel like we're dipping our toe back into that world of "who gives a fuck, do what you want'. It keeps things super exciting and wild.