Rock 'n' roll -- at least in its most essential form -- will never truly die. The organism evolves, splits, and reforms as time marches on, but at the end of the day, there is absolutely no substitute for what a band like the Darkness does. These British glam-rock revivalists harken us back to a time when unitards were acceptable on-stage male attire, guitars were loud, and songs were sung in only the highest pitches. A time, when rock music was about having fun.
The Darkness released its monster-selling debut, Permission to Land, in 2003. The group has since risen above alcoholism, a failed sophomore release, and infighting between the brothers Hawkins to return in a triumphant tornado of guitars, glitter, and falsettos. This is all courtesy of a well-received fresh release, Hot Cakes, mended bonds between brothers, and a little help from none other than Mother Monster herself.
We spoke with guitarist Dan Hawkins as the band recouped from its world tour about Gaga, sobriety, and the enduring relevance of rock music.
New Times: Are you guys ready to come stateside?
Dan Hawkins: We can't wait! It's just brilliant to be back to being a proper rock band for a bit!
What's it like having a second chance to do what the Darkness does after the band split up so tumultuously?
Fantastic, really! We're just a rock 'n' roll band. We try to kind of put a sort of stadium-sized rock 'n' roll show into whatever venue we're in, and it doesn't really concern us how many people are there, really. It doesn't matter whether there's a hundred, or a thousand or a hundred thousand, we still get excited about what we do. There are no two gigs the same, and sometimes that's a bad thing for us, because it's total fucking chaos [laughs], but it's just great to be back out on the road!
What was it like touring with Lady Gaga?
Overall, I think it was a great experience, and it really opened up some markets that weren't actually there for us when we started playing. We've been trying to get to South America, even in the last year and a half that we've reformed in, but we couldn't find any promoters that would take a risk, you know?
They have to take a punt on you, not the other way around, you can't chose your promoter, and it was an un-ranked quantity really, about how we would actually do and how we would go down in South America. But every show on the Lady Gaga gig has just been like a headline show. Literally, like you're doing your own stadium show by the end of our set -- the whole crowd's going completely nuts, and it's no exaggeration. There's footage out there on YouTube to that effect. And sure enough, we have promoters climbing over themselves to book us in South America now, and we're going to go in at quite a high level. We wouldn't be able to do that without Lady Gaga, and for that, I will be forever grateful.
Was it a weird disparity opening for a pop artist like Gaga?
She's definitely heavily influenced by the same music [as us] really, and you can see that visually as well, can't you? I suppose that's part of why the bill worked in the first place, and why we weren't the laughing-stock every night. Don't get me wrong, there were certain nights, in Eastern Europe for instance, where no one had heard of us at all, and the people who had heard of us fucking hated us! [laughs] You get someone covered in glitter and wearing some amazingly ridiculous outfit in the front row with fingers in their ears -- the only time they'd lift a finger out would be to give us the middle finger!
100 SW 3rd Ave., Fort Lauderdale, FL