They’ve nearly had as many lives as albums released and now they bring us Last Of Our Kind, their new record. We chat to Justin Hawkins, frontman of The Darkness, that man capable of breaking glass with his falsettos that, back in the day, made us cause serious auditory damage trying to sing “I believe in a thing called love” in some karaoke bar.
Every new The Darkness album release causes this sort of excitement state because, unlike other bands, people never know what’s going to happen. You still surprise people.
Oh, that is good news! I think some people are surprised that we still exist, but you’re right there, we are a surprising band. I call it “surprise rock”. It’s a good genre, isn’t it?
I’ve read that you were committed to make a riff album, a guitar one, this time. Why did that become a purpose?
Well, I think we realized that that’s what we do best, really. It’s the most fun to play live, for a start, and I’m really tired of making albums I don’t enjoy playing live. I think it’s nice to release material that makes you feel good and people can see that; nobody wants to go to a The Darkness gig and watch The Darkness not enjoying themselves. We’re a bit older now and we know what we want to do.
Is going back to basics like going back home sometimes?
Yeah, in a way. I do think that maybe it’s got more to do with time in our case. There’s been much said before about what fans would like us to do and we got it wrong, because all they actually wanted was us to enjoy ourselves. We’re very fortunate to have fans that mainly want us to do well and be happy. I know bands that got fans that actually don’t want them to become successful, because they retain that sort of ownership towards the band that way. But I know that The Darkness fans want us to become super-successful so they can say to their friends: “I told you they were the best band”.
All bands have got a supportive core fan base. The thing with The Darkness’ ones is that, apart from passionate, we are slightly mental, in the best of ways.
Oh definitely. “Fan” is the short form of “fanatic”, so, in a way… it’s a bit of a disorder. We’re very lucky and thankful to have The Darkness Army supporting and kicking ass. It’s what we need the most, really.
Lots of the imagery in Last Of Our Kind has got that war, battle, viking background. If you had to fight for or against something, what would it be?
If my wife was here she’d be saying “fight for animals!”, “stop people from eating animals!”, and I think she’s right there. This is a weird thing to admit but I’ve always, strongly, permanently, believed in reincarnation. And I also believe that every single organism on this planet or universe is connected. Life is one giant… thing. That’s my own version of spirituality. I do believe we are all linked, animals included, and it’s disgusting how some people treat them. Makes me feel really horrified. So yeah, eat as many plants as possible.
This is the country of bullfighting, which is a great example of what you say.
Yeah! Bullfighting is a strange one; the fashion is brilliant and bullfighters look amazing, but they are unbelievably cruel. Everyone should just dress like that because it looks so regal and magnificent, but should not involve needless torturing and killing a bull.
I read a sentence a long time ago that I think applies well to The Darkness: “taking things with a sense of humour is not the same as taking them lightly”. You display a very healthy sense of humour.
I try to do things with a sense of humour, though as seriously as possible. It’s not easy; since I was kid I’ve been told to take things more seriously. I often hear: “I can’t tell if you’re being serious or not”, because of my personality. The thing is… most of the songs you hear at rock music is bad lyrics and not everything has to be crazy this and crazy that. The best writers were humorous people, like for example Bon Scott or Freddy Mercury. It sounds to me as if you don’t do something following the clichés, you get criticised. But we’re not gonna do clichés; we’re The Darkness, we’re gonna do something fun and different.
Although The Darkness makes references on interviews and takes inspiration (I guess) from other bands in history, you’ve always done things in your own way in the mix of music, shows and even clothing. Where does this imagery, this creativity, come from in you?
Good question. It’s a combination of things; we’re all four very different, we dress different and we come from different backgrounds too. People used to compare us to the Spice Girls, because we look so particular. But it’s more like… we didn’t hang out with each other when we were growing up and we had different experiences. Also, none of us are prepared to compromise with what we need to be in rock and roll (laughs).
You couldn’t be invented.
(Laughs). Yeah, who would invent that??? It’s funny though, because in the older days, one we were first coming through and before making a record, there was this theory that we were this sort of made up superband of the music industry. You’d had to be an evil genius to do that.
What’s your future plans now?
I would like to… make another album, really. I want to record with our new drummer. We’re feeling like we’re 28 again.
You’ve had a long career with a history. What’s the main thing you’ve learned during this time?
The one thing I’ve learned is that there’s only one opinion that matters and that’s your own. You have to feel great about what you do, it’s the only way of feeling connected. This is a very difficult business and you have to be true to your heart.
We ask this question to everyone interviewed at La Monda. We give you the beginning of the sentence and you have to complete it. So, here it goes…
“Artistic expression as a way of defending…” the truth.
- The Darkness
- Ane Guerra