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Portrait of The Dank

The Dank

About The Dank

Toronto, Canada

Ask Ben VanBuskirk, singer and guitar player for Toronto's The Dank, and he makes no bones about it. "We're here to save rock & roll, plain and simple." A lofty statement, to be sure, but anyone who's seen the band play has seen that he takes this mission statement very seriously. And what's wrong with rock & roll? A quick glance at the club and concert listings for their hometown shows no lack of bands trying to push their own brand of rock on the beer-buying masses. "They're doing it wrong." he states flatly. I decide to dig deeper. But I'm surprised to learn his reasoning is sound. "I'm not trying to sound like a cocky asshole, but i don't see what people are seeing in rock music right now. I'm not interested in hearing chugging guitars and some guy talking about how many chicks he's laid. And I'm not interesting in hearing some indie rocker's high school love poetry. And I'm not interested in the DJ who wears sunglasses inside and only listens to bands no one else has heard of. What I am interested is in mood, in emotion, in awareness."

Fair enough. No one likes the hipster rat race and no one likes Motley Crue (unless it's ironically. or post-ironically. or whatever...). But even a cursory listen to The Dank will suggest these guys take an interest in, erm, physical love and almost certainly own Velvet Underground records on vinyl. Take 'Bethany' from their most recent EP:
"Put one your fuck-me eyes/we're going out to take the prize/we'll roll around in broken glass..." he intones over a Sonic Youth-ish chord progression. Or the White Stripes-on-steroids throb of the subtley-titled 'Fucking in the Rain':
"Kiss me sweetly or just bite your tongue/...I wanna turn you on"

"There's a fine line. I think rock should be SEXY. Telling women to show their tits and singing about strippers is not sexy at all. It's... well, it's deplorable and it makes for god-awful music. I hope what comes out in our music is passionate, often sexual, but not debasing... I think it's more universal than that."

Take that, Nickelback.

In 2007 Ben starts the band with Mike Millar. "We've been best friends since high school. I've been in bands for years, him and i had played guitar together for years for fun, but he'd never had a band. So we figured 'Whatever, let's write a couple of songs and play a show.' But then we were surprised to find out the songs didn't suck too badly."

So the band stayed together. Long-time collaborator Mike Austin plays drums until, according to Ben, "moving to B.C. to be happy and in love. He always was the smart one." Max Distortion, a friend of a friend, joins on bass and later moves to drums. "He is a fucking powerhouse. If he could clone himself, he'd have a rock super group... and we'd be obsolete."

They put out a record (put out, in this case, means 'burn cds at home and sell them at shows') called 'She Comes In Colours'. "We had some songs, figured we'd bash them out really quick and dirty. Technically, it's terrible, but it's perfect."

But the band want to do something more ambitious. "We recorded 6 songs. Really solid performances. Very lo-fi but still very crisp. We wanted something a little more polished, without losing the garage-rock vibe of the older stuff." Hence the new EP, "I Am Not a Poet (And Other Half-Truths), due in Fall 2009.

You, reader, might ask, "What does it sound like? Can this chump say that his band is going to SAVE rock and roll and expect us not to laugh in his face?" I can't tell you that with authority. Tastes are subjective. I don't know if rock was ever dying to begin with. But i can tell you that either way, The Dank is good medicine.

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Portrait of The Dank