Bursting onto the scene with their 2003 debut “Permission To Land,” British glam rockers The Darkness revived the hair-band hooks and costumed posturing lost in the wake of ‘90s grunge. Despite the album going platinum in four countries, its follow-up received a lukewarm reception and the band fell prey to a long list of textbook rock ‘n’ roll pitfalls.
After a five-year hiatus, the band reunited in 2011. They’ve since released two well-received albums and toured with Lady Gaga. Currently featuring three of four original members, The Darkness added drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor (son of Queen drummer Roger Taylor) last year.
Prepping for a run of tour dates before finalizing a new record, charismatic frontman Justin Hawkins spoke with DiscoverSD from his home in Switzerland. He and the band make a stop at San Diego’s House of Blues on April 10.
Q: How are you?
A: I’m pretty spectacular at the moment, really. I’m walking my dog, there’s no fog, and it’s night. The city is in the valley and you can see the Lake of Constance over in the distance. It’s rather nice.
Q: Anything left to do before the tour starts?
A: I think one of the most important things we do is look at each other’s dressing-up box and decide what we’re going to wear. It’s crucial, obviously.
Q: Have you got yours figured out?
A: I’ll be wearing something quintessentially Americanized. Hopefully it won’t upset anybody.
Q: Can you elaborate?
A: Well, I don’t want to spoil it for you. But here’s a clue - when’s the last time you watched an early Gap Band video? (laughs)
Q: Ha! Awesome. Now, is this a democratic process?
A: Absolutely! Everyone puts his ego aside and we just try and showcase (bassist) Frankie (Poullain)! The most important thing is that he shines out like a beacon - a growling, pointing beacon that mesmerizes the ladies in the first five or six rows. Beyond that, we’ve just got to make sure that we complement his outfit.
Q: He sings a song now. Will you be playing “Conquerors?”
A: I’d love to hear that in the set. And I get to play bass as well - give my voice a rest. It’s quite nice to let someone else have a go, you know? But should I log that as a request?
Q: For sure.
A: Great. I’ll see what I can do. (laughs)
Q: Is it difficult to continue being the Pied Piper of the party now that you’re not indulging in all the things that come with it?
A: It took me a little while to get the balance right. I found it difficult to be around at first, but was drawn to it as well. Now I just love it. I particularly enjoy being around drunk people. And I’m usually in a room where that’s everyone but me (laughs). When I wasn’t comfortable with that, it was a bit more challenging. But I still have a great time, all the time. It’s just in a different way. And I’m not feeding a superiority complex or something like that. I genuinely enjoy hanging out with drunk people.
Q: What’s next? How is the new album coming?
A: We already have a few songs prepared. We’re hoping to get our new album out by the end of this year or the beginning of next. It’s just about finding the time to record them. And I’ve actually always been terrified of the process of regrouping to make an album. I always worry about “what if I can’t think of anything?” (laughs) I’ve never had writer’s block as such, but it’s definitely a fear. But I’m reassured by the fact that I worry about it. At least I care. And I think that’s it. As long as you care, everything’s all right.
Scott McDonald is a writer, on-air personality and consultant with 15 years of experience in the San Diego music scene. He has interviewed hundreds of artists, from the legendary to the underground, for print and television. Follow McDonald and his melodic musings on Twitter @eight24_ or Instagram @scotteight24. Send your music musts to email@example.com.