INTERVIEW: The Darkness
Over 10 years after the release of their hit album ‘Permission to Land’ which was the fastest selling debut album by a British band in America since that of The Spice Girls, The Darkness are back!
On June 1st, their new album ‘Last of Our Kind’ will be released but in the mean time they’re creating an ecstatic hype about while on a sold out tour around Ireland.
Many critics have suggested they’re outdated and ‘one album wonders’ but The Darkness are back with a vengeance to prove they aren’t going anywhere. With line-up changes and the introduction of the incredibly talented Emily Dolan Davies on drums, summer 2015 will see the release of what they’ve described as their most ‘riffy’ album yet.
Recently, they released the first single ‘Barbarian’ was described by lead vocalist Dan Hawkins as having “not one but two dramatic monologues, a guitar solo that has been declared ‘irresponsible’, a riff that weakens lady-knees and a chorus that makes grown men shit directly into their pants.” Then again, we wouldn’t expect anything less from The Darkness. Gigging NI’s Kelly Thompson had a quick chat with Dan Hawkins before their Derry show.
Fans of The Darkness are looking forward to the release of ‘Last of Our Kind’ being released in June. What can they expect from this album?
“Eh, first of all keen guitars, lots of rocking. The whole thing rocks really. It was kind of built more around riffs this time as we decided to abandon trying to write ‘songs’ and just tried to right riffs then turn them into songs. That’s pretty much what we did on the first record but we lost light of that after someone give us an award for song writing so we thought we were song writers. Really, we’re more riff writers, so yeah. It’s our most ‘riffy’ album.”
So ‘Barbarian’ lyrics describe the Viking Invasion in East Anglia… Is this symbolic of your Lowestoft roots?
“That sort of thing doesn’t really go on in Lowesoft apart from on a Friday night on the main high street in the old part of town which has pretty much still pillaging going on there I think.”
You have been successful for over 10 years now, so what do you think the key to your success has been and what advice would you give to other bands?
“Hmm, the key to us remaining successful is we’re all very happy to have the best jobs in the world. But essentially, I mean, if you have a job, it means you’re being paid and we’re paid through our fans, so yeah. It’s thanks to whatever reason we’ve a very loyal fan base all over the world. They always come to see us play and some of them even buy the album.
“Um, advice, yeah, I think don’t try and be like other bands. So many people, people I know as well, they change their mind every five minutes cause there’s a new band that comes along, they really like that band and they change their sound to sound like them. Ultimately, just do what you love and if anyone likes it then great, if they don’t then whatever.”
“Um, well, I dunno really. She was hired on the merits of her drumming. I mean, she’s such an amazing drummer and she’s great to watch. When you actually see her drumming, it’s something to behold really. I think we’re quite in touch with our feminine side really so we’ve always had our management, whether it be on the road or the desk who have always been female over the years, there’s no real change really.”
So you produced ‘Last of Our Kind’ as well as working with Nick Brine and Justin on the production of ‘Hot Cakes’. How do you think it has benefited you as a band?
“Eh, it’s made the production sound better I think, to be fair. I don’t think really you can have a production partnership as it doesn’t really work. It’s about seeing your idea through really, something that you primarily record for the performance that you’re trying to achieve and the mix you’re trying to get. It sort of has to be one vision.”
What has been your favourite performance so far?
“Oh, blimey, there’s been so many. It’s so difficult with us as every night is different. We played on Valentia Island yesterday, next stop New York. It’s pretty difficult to get to, we did on purpose really. But anyway, that was just absolute fucking chaos, total chaos. Um, and most of our gigs are like that, it never goes according to plan. So, it’s quite hard to differentiate really, I mean I think there’s so many gigs you just come off and you’re like wow, what an amazing experience but to be fair, I think that happens a lot with us. We enjoy what we do so yeah, too many to count.”
Obviously everyone has different opinions so how do you set musical differences aside to create the tracks?
“Oh, Jesus, well we don’t really. We just fight various corners and argue and then eventually whoever shouts the loudest wins. I mean we do have quite broad tastes, so there you go. I was on the treadmill today and listening to something, I’m not even going to tell you what it was, it was so bad. There you go, you have to listen to it all.”
With influences from the 70’s and 80’s like Queen, Def Leppard, Kate Bush and AC/DC. Do you think they have impacted your musical careers or would you ever like to take a new direction?
“I don’t think we’ll change direction, you know, we’re capable of changing direction but I think we’re a band that’s more like AC/DC and their stubbornness in a way. We do what we do and we love it. We’re not experimenting with this, this is what we love. I can’t see it changing really.”
It’s very rare that a band on your calibre of fame would dedicate a tour to Ireland as most play Belfast and Dublin. Why is this important to you?
“Well, I think at this point in time. We did a little tour at the end of not last year, but the year before. But the last bit of touring we did, we finished of the last album campaign really with a little celebration of the anniversary of Permission to Land and we played lots of little places in the UK but we didn’t do Ireland. We felt like; A) there was unfinished business, and B) it would be a great place to do it. So it just worked out great that we basically had written the album in Ireland and we thought that this would be where we’d start it. We wanted to go somewhere away from major exposure and we certainly didn’t want to go through London on this so we thought we’d go through Londonderry instead.” [laughs]
What can we expect in the future from The Darkness and will we be seeing more of you in the future?
“Oh definitely, we always try to do Ireland. It’s only ever the boss or schedules that mean we don’t get to come here. But I mean, we would like to see how this tour goes, well, it did sell out in a week so it’s already done pretty well. Maybe we’ll play slightly bigger venues next time. I don’t really, we’re doing this for fun. The truth be known, we’re not making money on this tour but that’s not the point really. It just seems like the right thing to do right now for whatever reason.”