McFly’s Danny Jones tells us all about Power to Play and 20 years in McFly

2023 marks 20 years of McFly and the band celebrate by releasing new album Power to Play. We sat down over Zoom with Danny to find out more.

Prior to the release of McFly’s new album Power to Play, deputy editor Lizi sat down with the band’s Danny Jones to discuss all things Power to Play and 20 years of McFly.

“The disc is cool, isn’t it?” Says Danny the moment we start, as he shows us the cover and inserts of the Power to Play album.

When asked about the design, he said: “Where the idea came from, is like, some dude in his room just like, you know, playing the guitar, going on.

“Dougie played this game that was like that and he showed it me and I was like, ‘Mate, that’s amazing. We should do the artwork like that.’ And he’s cracked on with it. It’s like some ethereal gaming, kind of like Spacey Journey and it is very 80s style.“

On the new, rockier direction of McFly seen on Power to Play, Danny highlighted how a lot of artists such as The 1975, are trying to go in an 80s dance rock style. He said: “We were like ‘hold on, what should McFly be. Oh Van Halen, Bon Jovi, all these guitar bands that were also pop, like Rush, who were pop in the sense of popular music.

“All we thought about was what was McFly to us individually and what do we think it is. We had an identity board that we wrote on with what McFly was to us. Things like energy, honesty, not to take ourselves too seriously and that we work hard.”

He spoke about how the band have been able to go in multiple directions throughout their career, highlighting how they were around boy bands on the likes of CD:U.K. but could then go and play a rock show.

“People still sometimes call us a boy band,” said Danny. “but then we function like Iron Maiden because we have techs, we have guitar amps and we have this and that. It’s a weird one. It’s the same as being commercial, trying to be clever and get on the radio.

“We just had enough of trying to play the game.”

The band’s own happiness was also a focal point in the decision to go full blown rock ‘n’ roll as Danny said: “All we wanted to do was be happy in ourselves and make an album that is for the fan at the front. We wanted to make an album for that person because that person is us. We’re a fan of our band.

“I felt like before we were making music maybe for someone else, or trying to be like ‘what will this guy think if we go to radio here?’

“We landed on all the 80s rock like Kiss, Thin Lizzy and a bit of 70s as well like AC/DC.

“The riff in Where Did All The Guitars Go? Is very AC/DC.

“Those bands were pop back then but as popular, not the genre it has become. So we were like ‘well, what is McFly in that?’ And it was like ‘80s rock is pop music but with guitars so it made sense. And it was almost a lightbulb moment for us to go ‘oh yeah, Van Halen was like pop music, Bon Jovi was pop music.”

He also credits Rush as being a big influence, stating that they had personality which was one of the things on the inspiration board.

“We felt like we’re in the time of our lives and career and coming back after [last album] Young Dumb Thrills where all our influences just got combined into a pot. It was amazing but it had no sonic kind of cohesiveness.”

The album had a very DIY feel to it, with it being created in the band’s own studio, with Danny producing half of the album himself and long-time collaborator Jason Perry producing half, not that that was ever the intention as Danny told us: “It feels so organic and so original and it feels like something that no one else can create apart from us in this moment in time.

“We didn’t do it on a laptop, which everyone has. Everyone has Logic. We had our own studio, that’s what’s sick about it!

“The time has been amazing. Obviously we had covid and that’s why it took us two years to make the album. We didn’t want to rush it, and we took our time learning them [the songs].

“Now in rehearsals it shows because it takes us a bit longer to get them because they’re complex songs. Even though they sound simple, they’re very complex. But when we get it, it’s a level above what we used to do.”

When asked about his involvement in the production side and how it impacts his views on the songs through both the writing and production, Danny said: “It’s a good question that, because I remember saying to Jason when we sat down, ‘mate I’m just being the band this time because I don’t want to get distracted. I just want to do what’s right for the songs.’”

This came after he was heavily involved in the production of Young Dumb Thrills which allowed him to use the skills he learnt in college on a production course.

“That’s how we started. I was just like ‘right, I’m a band member. I ain’t touching the studio gear.’ And then suddenly I couldn’t help myself and was overshadowing, being like ‘can we do that?’

“And then I got involved halfway through because I felt like I knew what the band wanted to get. The reason I started producing was because I couldn’t articulate what I wanted something to sound like and the band talk through me now for how to get the sound.

“It’s nice having me and Jason be able to give everyone the sound that we want to get because we know how to get it.

“Production is funny because everyone has an opinion on it. I just try and chase a feeling, if it feels good then it’s right.

“When it feels right, put it out there because it’s the listener that finishes it. I love when you’ve come away from an album. I could put Power to Play on now because I’ve been away from it and I’ve not listened to it for a while and I could just listen to it and hear things differently.”

On how fans reacted to singles Where Did All the Guitars Go? and God of Rock and Roll, Danny said: “They are absolutely loving it. They feel like it’s the music that’s been made for them, which it was, and live it’s just going to be next level.

“We’re just trying to make music that makes us happy and make people feel good. Make people want to drive with the windows down. Maybe people want to come to a show and see it live and see the guitar solo that took three hours to record with blisters.

“There’s been pain, there’s been blood and everything but that’s what it’s about.

“We don’t want a clean stage, we want amps on it and we want noise.” Danny then goes on to reference how he gets excited seeing bands like Biffy Clyro on stage surrounded by amps.

He feels like fans would relate most to Land of the Bees, saying “lyrically and musically, that’s the most Rush song you could dream of making.

“The boys started writing it up here on the sofa and I was downstairs. When I came up, I was like ‘I imagine I’m like Bruce from Iron Maiden flying the flag and going into the land of the bees.’ This came from us having a feeling of being back on stage, like the land of the bees, like we’re buzzing back. We were taking the piss but it became that thing. We had to call it Land of the Bees because it stuck with everyone. It’s got this meaning of togetherness and being happy about being back on stage and then this crazy riff.”

He also highlights Fine as being a potential fan favourite as it’s Dougie’s version of Not Alone from their 2003 debut album Room on the Third Floor and also said that there were three or four other really good songs that they had to pull from the record.

To celebrate the release of Power to Play, McFly are heading out on a UK tour later this year but also playing an intimate show in Underworld. “I’m excited but also nervous because when people are closer they can spot the mistakes.

“I do like the small venues, but I love big venues as well. I’m all about theatres and arenas.

“I’m excited but I have a feeling like we want to start small and end up big because we’ve written an album that should be in stadiums, but we can’t sell a stadium so we have to do small ones to create the buzz. We could do arenas right now, but straight into an arena is just too obvious.

“We’re doing Ally Pally too which is going to be insane!

“What’s cool is it starts at the Underworld in a tiny venue. That’s where it all starts. Take over your street, then take over your town, then take over your city, then take over the world!”

On being a band for 20 years, Danny told us they have plenty more in the works. He said: “When we had our little break for a year, I was always confident that McFly was never going anywhere because we all felt like we had something missing from our lives. It’s made me who I am, it’s moulded me.

“The zimmer frame tour’s booked already. We’re holding dates,” he laughs.

And despite being 20 years older and wiser, there are no regrets to look back on for Danny. “I believe that every move is the reason why the next move happens.

“Sometimes Harry would say ‘oh on the last album, this and that,’ and he’ll analyse it and find where things went wrong but I’m not like that. I’ll be like ‘yeah that might be wrong’ but it’s not wrong to me because I’ve learnt from that what is right.

“So I look at everything as how it connects rather than disconnects. The reason we met, the albums etc.. So on an album if something didn’t get done we’d move along to the next one with that in mind and it all makes some kind of path.”

But he does have one regret – not investing in Bitcoin or Apple a bit earlier, he said whilst laughing.

In AltCorner tradition, we end with some random questions. The first being ‘would you rather write music but not be able to play it or play music but not be able to write it?’ Danny provided one of the most decisive answers we’ve received: “Playing and entertaining. I could play Oasis songs and feel satisfying. It’s just more satisfying when you’ve written songs. It’s an added bonus. So I think I’d go for playing and not writing. I get a lot of joy because I used to play covers in pubs, so I’ve done it before.

“I don’t think I’d like to sit in a room and write and see other people play my music. So I’d rather play other people’s music.”

He wasn’t sure on which Pokémon would be his starter Pokémon as he’s not really into it but wants to get his hands on a Flawless Box, a sealed box of Pokémon cards as they can go for up to £250,000 as there’s only so many in existence and when one box is opened, the other boxes values can go up, depending on what was inside.

When asked about his tattoos that have the most meaning, Danny pointed to a stunning one of his son doing a Liam Gallagher impression and one of a lion on his leg which was done around the time of his knee surgery and it gets him through his rehab. He also highlighted a third tattoo which says “the day is worthwhile when you make someone smile” which was a quote his grandad would say.

McFly’s new album Power to Play is out now and the band will be on tour across the UK in October and November.

Elizabeth Birt

June 15, 2023

Band management assistant. Goth princess and lover of all things music and sport.


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