Q&A: The Darkness' Justin Hawkins On Being Surrounded By Drama, His Pre-Rock Star Life, And Learning From Lady Gaga
Fans of falsetto-laden cock-rock and spindly Englishmen in catsuits have been shit outta luck since the Darkness broke up in 2006, amid out-of-control tension and lead singer/guitarist Justin Hawkins' heading off to rehab. Then a performance at last year's Download Festival heralded the reformation of the lineup that appeared on 2003's glammy, hammy blockbuster Permission to Land. Now, two sizable events mark the Darkness' official return to the spotlight: a new album, Hot Cakes (out tomorrow), and a support slot for the European dates of Lady Gaga's Born This Way Ball. While the Darkness hopes Hot Cakes translates into fat stacks, being snapped up by pop's leading lady was a surprise. "We didn't prepare for it; it was so unexpected," Hawkins says. "We always thought we were too old and too ugly, and it turns out you're never quite old or ugly enough!" The Voice asked Hawkins for some insight on the London Olympics, recording a Radiohead cover and the importance of scoping out Gaga's balls.
Any idea why the Darkness was excluded from the Olympics' opening and closing ceremonies?
It didn't even occur to me that there was going to be an opening ceremony. I thought a plane gets there, and everything's kicked off. I have no idea why we were excluded. I actually think that we'd have a better shot of being included at the Olympic Opening Ceremony if it was held in New York or L.A. It just seems like at this exact moment in time, the U.K. is slightly hesitant to a Darkness reunion, revival, resurgence, whatever you want to call it. It doesn't matter to us. The world's a big place.
How is the U.K. being resistant to your return?
I just mean that we're not getting stuff played on the radio. It doesn't feel, to me anyway, that it's firing on all cylinders like it is in places like Australia and Italy, where everyone is loving it straight away. But it doesn't matterwe'll go where the work is.
If you could be a gold medalist in any sport, what sport would it be?
I'd probably go for archery. I think of all the disciplines involved, it's the one where you have to be the most aware of your surroundings, you know. You have to really stand there and absorb what the wind's doing, be aware of the distance, have a steady hand. Those are traits that I was born with anyway. I'm also an elf. Though I am Pisces, so maybe I'd do something aquatic. I'm a Piscean elf.
The band's trajectory has gone from super-high to super-low, leading to a bunch of drama and an eventual break-up. Now you're headed for the top again. What mistakes did you make before that you were careful not to repeat this time?
They're all lessons that you have to learn, so in a way there's no regrets, but at the same time, I've learned that a lot of television is evil, so if you're not performing, avoid it. If you're there just to talk about stuff and be silly, that's not what you're supposed to do. I'm supposed to play music or write music. My experience is, if you're not playing music on the telebox, you shouldn't be on the telebox. Stick to what you're good at.
What you said earlier about the split and the drama around the split, the thing I love about the Darkness is that there's been drama around the reunion, drama around the gigs, drama around the hotels. There's drama everywhere! (laughs) That's part of the reason it took so long for us to revisit it, because unlike anything else that we've ever been involved in, there's just so much drama. I'm exhausted.