The Darkness

You can imagine the shock on the Justin from the Darkness' face when Will Young comes on to sing the hits of Queen for The Jubilee Celebrations. You see for Justin Hawkins, his brother Dan and Frankie Poullan and Ed Graham their love of Queen didn't come out of a ironic gesture in Wayne's World and Will Young was certainly not fit to fill Freddie's shoes. It's important to mention this because the Darkness were a unit the moment Justin walked onto the stage in a Karaoke competition and performed a note perfect performance of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody".

But still The Darkness are more than just a Queen tribute band and they take everything that's great about rock music (guitar solo's / velvet trousers / long haired frontmen) and times it by a billion. Designer Magazine caught up with Justin to find out about one of Britain's Best New Rock bands of 2002.

Q: Let's set the scene. It's 2002 and we've got the two major forces of evil in the world (or at least music). In the UK we have the bland nu-sensitive bands ala Coldplay and Starsailor. In the US they have the Nu-Metal dirge of Limp Biscuit and Linkin Park. The Darkness you could say are the underdogs to the Blair and Bush of music if you like. Would you agree?
A: I think there's fewer good bands coming out of Britain than there has been in years. I don't know whether it's post Britpop, but it must be post Nu Metal now as well and working out where it's trying to go. But the kids are still kind of buying guitar music blindly!!!

It's only recently that i've tried to get a grip with what's happening on the scene. Generally speaking I only to listen to what I like to listen to. Sometime I feel raped by the hype if I by an album that's supposed to be great and it's not. For my money I think that the great music is from yesteryear. People don't really make proper albums anymore do they?

Q: You seem to have chosen the name The Darkness to throw people of the trail. For those of you who have witnessed a Darkness show you'll know it's nothing like the gothic melancholy the name suggests. What that always the plan?
A: You can look at it like that if you will. But I think all music comes from the Darkness at some point. It's a nagging need to express something and it's usually caused by something your mind or something you need to get of your chest. That's the Darkness for me - is it an antidote to something or is it an expression of something.

We've been doing this project with this line up for two years now, it's just that the songwriting has become more developed and everyone's roles have become more defined. A lot of people thought it was a joke at the beginning and the great thing about Manchester was that as soon as the support band finished everyone moved right to the front. For us that is an out of town gig and it's a great feeling because it means that people know what they've let themselves in for - it's not just a joke!!!

Q: Going back to before you formed The Darkness. You were at college and one of your modules was to write songs in the style of Deep Purple. Does it worry you that nowadays there will modules to write songs in the style of Limp Biscuit?
A: I was doing Music Technology really and there was a pop course running concurrently with it. So I opted to doing some modules from that because I thought it would boost my CV as it were. We actually ended up doing some gigs as the band in that style and it was totally natural for me. The course was run by these people who were deeply disillusioned and it was really a case of those who can do and those who can't teach!!!

I think in a way what they were trying to was mould the future so they still had an interest in the scene themselves. But if I would have been at college now and it would have been a module on the sound of Limp Biscuit I wouldn't even bothered with it in the first place - that thought's just so worrying!!!

Q: When you first started the band, with the knowledge that what you were doing was totally at odds with what the kids are buying, did you still have that confidence you could take over the world?
A: We thought that people would just bite our hands off because for me in particular everything i've ever listened to has been about frontmen with showmanship, quality guitar solos, proper players and mean songs. But it's only been since bands like the Datsuns have come around that the industry has shifted to bands like ourselves. If you think about the turn of the millennium and what was around? Richard Ashcroft was having his solo thing and the singer songwriter Jeff Buckley obsessives.

The thing that bothers me most about the rock scene is the baggy jeans because that's not the derigeur from when I was kid listening to rock. But each to their own and it just means that they're up for the conversion!!!

Q: You've literally just finished recording the debut album this morning. For people who've either seen you live or maybe heard the single. What can we expect from the album in the new year?
A: Generally the stuff we've recorded has tried to get that raw energy back because in a way the single was a little over produced and lost a little impact. We meandered from the manifesto slightly. A couple of songs from the single are going to be on there because we only pressed a thousand copies of it.

The Darkness are on the road throughout November / December
The debut album is released early in 2003
For more info

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