McFly man and solo artist Danny Jones reflects on misconceptions, Mike Oldfield and the teachings of Mayer.
For whom the bells toll
“I first started playing because I was obsessed with the Tubular Bells Live DVD. I remember the guy introducing it was like, ‘Two highly compressed electric guitars!’ and then Mike Oldfield played this amazing guitar solo. Then it was Springsteen. He always played a Telecaster, so then I wanted a Tele and that solidified which guitar I was going to play.”
“I ended up buying guitars and buying guitars. I had a Custom Shop Nocaster, a Tele like Springsteen’s, another Tele that I set on fire myself. Then about five years ago, I sold everything and got three Teles that sound insane. And I’ve got three acoustics and one Strat that all sound insane - and now I’m done! That’s all I need. It was either Stevie Ray Vaughan or Steve Vai that said, ‘Tone is the ability to listen to yourself.’ That’s so true.”
Everybody’s got to learn sometime
“I had a lesson off one of my idols. We were supporting the One Direction boys and we went downstairs at our hotel and John Mayer was there! We chatted and chatted because I’ve been into him since Room For Squares. He went, ‘Come on up, man, I’ll show ya!’
“So we went up to his room and he got this beautiful Martin out and just threw it at me. He was like, ‘I need to take a piss!’ I looked at Tom [Fletcher], my bandmate, and I was like, ‘Shall I?’ So I started playing Why Georgia and John was like, ‘Yeah man!’ Then he came back in and showed me how he played it. He had to put a bunion plaster on his index finger because of the way he plays the chords.”
“Bad gigs? There was one when I was 13/14. I got to this pub and it was a bit lairy. I said to my mum, ‘I don’t think they’re down for music. They’re all lads in football shirts.’ So my mum spoke to the landlord and was like, ‘Look, he feels a bit weird, so we’re gonna leave...’
“As we left, we got chased down the street by this guy hurling abuse at us, going, ‘Get back in there and play some music you little twat!’ I literally got chased because they wanted to hear music. I’d got it wrong... I was shitting myself!”
“The common misconception back in the day was, ‘Are you even playing?’ I ended up seeing it as a compliment because I was like, ‘If they think we’re miming – we must be a good band!’ I finessed my pedalboard. I finessed my sound. I was breaking for guitar solos. And you don’t get appreciated for those things when you’re from our world, which was frustrating.
“People say, ‘They were manufactured. They can’t play.’ But I’ve been playing since I was six years old. I grew up on blues. I just put it to the back of my head now. I play for the enjoyment of playing.”
Squeeze me baby
“What gets me through a tour – and to this day I have never missed a show in my life – is vitamin D, vitamin C super green juice! [Laughs] Literally. We’ve done those [rockstar] days, but it was a long time ago. I think we’d have ended [if we had kept that up].
“Three of the band have been to rehab, for different reasons, but I think if we didn’t have that moment of madness where we went like, ‘Shit, I’ve got a problem.’ Then I think we’d be over, or dead. So long live the green tea, the vitamin D and the vitamin C!”
Danny Jones’ debut solo single, Is This Still Love, is out now.