BACK TO BASICS WITH THE DARKNESS
Interview Betsy Green
The Darkness shot into the stratosphere of superstardom when single ‘I believe in a thing called love’ climbed to the top of the charts from debut album ‘Permission to Land’ 2003, giving the world a much welcomed and fresh new taste of Rock n Roll. Curly hair, cat suits and high notes paved the way for incalculable success they reaped.
Sitting outside on the bandstand awaiting the arrival of The Darkness on a beautiful sunny day at the Scarborough Spa. A somewhat small venue, having previously seeing the band at Sheffield Motor Point arena and Download Festival. We were a little apprehensive to say the least, as it was difficult trying to fathom what to expect, knowing the band weren’t huge fans of rock journalists and have been on a particularly rocky road. We were only waiting for about five minutes for the guys when all four appeared in a very timely fashion. To our pleasure, they greeted us with open arms, they were very welcoming, friendly and charming, and looking in excellent shape.
We’d been booked in for a 30 minute interview slot, to then be told we only had 5 minutes with the guys, we were a little despondent to say the least, but this small disappointment was soon extinguished as upon telling The Darkness this, they immediately reassured us that we could take as long as needed and they were more than happy to answer all of our questions. The positive vibes we got from Justin (vocals), Dan (lead guitar), Frankie (bass) and Ed (drums) immediately set the tone of the interview.
This is the first interview The Darkness have completed as the original four-piece for a long, long time, so we felt very lucky to be part of this occasion. It was evident from the first 5 minutes of speaking to the guys they were in a good place, and certainly a place they wanted to be. Not so flamboyant Front man Justin Hawkins put down his copy of Catcher In The Rye and explained that playing small gigs was what it was all about for them now, quality over quantity.
Firstly, we’d like to apologize for how unprofessional this may be as we were expecting a bit more time…
Justin: No one’s ever apologized to us before so that makes you even more professional.
So, are you excited to be here in Scarborough on this beautiful sunny day?
Justin: Most definitely, were actually really impressed by Scarborough, don’t forget we are from Lowestoft, an old holiday resort, not quite as nice, and doesn’t have a castle.
We saw you at download for your comeback gig, how was that for you?
Justin: There was just too many people though, it’s nice to do intimate gigs, it’s really good to be yourself.
How come you guys are touring? Thinking of putting out more new material?
Justin: I don’t know really, most important thing is doing shows, it’s not about creating, if new material comes it’s a bonus. It would be really annoying to have another hit again. Were much better off doing this kind of stuff, it’s real. It’s much nicer to do intimate or more unattended things.
Frankie: Rehearsals are the best, much more enjoyable!
Justin: That’s when you really get to be yourself.
Dan: Sometimes we’ll do a rehearsal and I’ll be the only one that turns up!
You decided not to name the tour, why is that? And if you were going to name the tour what would you have named it?
Frankie: It’s better to be modest and keep it more low key.
Justin: This particular tour is like a long weekend, so I guess we’d call it The Weekend Show.
Frankie: The rehearsal tour!
What are your plans for the rest of this year?
Dan: We will be concentrating on recording a new album in the next 6-9 months, but it’s festival season and since reforming for 3 years we have played festivals. First year we did download, second year we did the Isle of White. Now we are just picking oddities and little home grown festivals around Europe.
So are you just concentrating on The Darkness in the future or are you going to maintain your side project bands?
Justin: ‘Laughs’ Frankie has just joined Hot Leg!
Frankie: HA HA, the problem is their fighting over me for their projects!
Justin: Were still discussing personal terms but I think Frankie is going to join Hot Leg.
Frankie: I’m just talking to my agent at the moment
Dan: I might put in a late offer for Frankie to join the Stone Gods
What’s the worse show you’ve ever played?
Justin: That’s a good question…
Dan: It would be in Finland!
Justin: No that was a good show! Actually the beginning of our last show we didn’t have our own equipment so we had to play with hired. I think there were three gigs without the equipment! I had a big argument with the manager once that was really shit!
Frankie: A terrible gig becomes like comedy!
Who has the filthiest touring habbits?
Justin: I probably shower the least.
Dan: Justin doesn’t bring many clothes
Justin: I don’t actually pack any pants or socks I just wear what I’ve got on for the whole tour, and at the end I throw them away, it’s what Charlie Chaplin used to do!
Have you still got a dislike for music journalists?
Frankie: Everything that comes out of magazines these days is nonsense anyway
Justin: Present company not included thought! Everything that usually comes out in magazines about The Darkness is nonsense unless it’s good things about The Darkness then it’s true of course!
Have you kissed and made up with NME magazine as they seemed very critical of The Darkness and the feeling seemed mutual?
Justin: It’s like been in a relationship with somebody, then it became really abusive and you hated each other, then years later you bump into each other and because their now completely irrelevant, there’s just politeness. They’ve actually said a couple of nice things about us, but it doesn’t really make a difference to us now.
There’s a mutual lack of interest with traditional media and The Darkness. I’m sure if we had a mega hit it would all be different
The Glam Rock scene seems to becoming more popular now, especially with bands such as Steel Panther…
Justin: There’s good and bad in every sub-genre of rock, except for some sub genres which are all bad. I think Steel Panther are great and the guitar player is amazing, comedy mostly but they are really good at playing and fun to watch. Some bands in the glam genre go too hard on the ‘glam’ thing and think their beautiful and androgynous instead of focusing on the music, but the ones that can write songs are good!
After more polite and pleasant exchanges The Darkness happily provided us with autographs and posed for pictures. The Darkness obviously felt as though a large chunk of their identity was swallowed up by the media and masses when they were ‘famous’ restricting them to showcase a true reflection of what they were really about. There was plenty of laughter, banter and friendly chit chat with the four guys. The Darkness were subject to a lot of scrutiny in the past over their motives as musicians, their attitude to rock and opinions on other bands. But for a band that are solely focused on the music and portraying a true image of themselves, You don’t get much more real than The Darkness.