Interview by Shannon-Lee Sloane – The Colourful Writer.
The Darkness. A band who bring so much to the world with their music, personalities, great sense of humor, staggeringly good live shows and so much more.
Their new album ‘Easter Is Cancelled’ is set for release October 4 via Cooking Vinyl. They hit Australian shores in March 2020 and I can’t wait to see them bring their magic to Brisbane! I got to chat to guitarist and all round rock legend, Dan Hawkins last night about the new album, the tour and more. If only we’d had longer to chat, I have no doubt we could have talked for hours! Dan was easy to talk to and just so lovely. A rock star with real heart…
The first thing I’d love to talk about is your latest single, Heart Explodes, it’s an absolute banger! I can’t stop listening to it, can you tell me a bit about the song?
“Oh wow, gosh, thanks a lot first of all. I can tell you a bit about the development of the song I suppose, it was written on acoustic and then we went to make this album, so we went straight from acoustic to recording the song and we wanted to take it to the stadium. It is quite different to anything we’ve done before I think, that song, it is quite serious and uplifting and it’s a stadium type of song.”
I also love the lyric video that goes along with it, the cartoon versions of the band are really cool, do you know much about the artist?
“It is great that lyric video. It was one of those instances where, the way that singles are released these days, I don’t even understand it, It’s all very complicated, we don’t even use the word single anymore, I am like ‘I give up, whatever!’ *laughs* But we were going to make a video for Heart Explodes, but then to tide us over we had the lyric video made and we went ‘well that’s kind of job done really’. The lady who did the artwork for the lyric video, is the same lady who did the artwork for the album cover. Her name is Kiara, she is from Italy, she is an in incredible artist.”
She really is! That rolls into my next question well, which was to talk about the new album. The album cover art is a little bit controversial, what was the concept behind it?
“Well, the concept of the album as a whole is kind of ‘Easter Is Cancelled’, the title, came really early on. The idea of Justin being a buff Jesus and breaking free from the crucifixion and kicking butt and living. Like ‘what if Jesus had lived?’ I know many people who still believe he walks amongst us, all that kind of stuff. But what if he actually lives? And then it also kind of goes with the life and death and rebirth of rock n roll, so it sounds quite heavy and high brow but really! But the context of the cover, it is actually really funny, like in a Monty Python kind of way, like in The Life Of Brian, I mean, gosh, it doesn’t get anymore controversial than that and it is so funny!”
The album is set for release on October 4 via Cooking Vinyl. This will be your sixth studio album, are you really excited for it’s release and to get it out there into the world?
“I can’t wait for people to hear it. I really can’t. You know, we have a pretty strong relationship with our fans these days, though we’ve always had that. You know, the way the industry works these days, you have more direct contact with your fans, you hear what they think and their experiences of how they perceive the music and stuff and I just know for a fact they will love it. It is actually going to blow their minds it think.”
Your first album ‘Permission To Land’ was released back in 2003 and was a HUGE success, I would imagine it’s been quite a whirlwind since then?
“Oh gosh yeah, we have been around for quite a long time now. It’s crazy really. We are just so busy. I think most musicians who are lucky enough to have a career and make albums, it is a common thing that we all experience, it tends to go in cycles and time just flies because you are always so busy, we never stop. Every summer if we’re on an album cycle or not, we’ll be playing festivals. Whirlwind is pretty much yeah, that’s it.”
In March 2020, Australian and New Zealand fans are in for a treat when you bring the ‘Easter Is Cancelled’ tour to our shores! Are you looking forward to it? Do you like visiting Australia?
“I absolutely love it. There are times when my brother and I have talked about moving to Australia.”
I’m based in Brisbane Australia and when you come here, you’ll be playing at The Tivoli, we are spoilt for great live music venues here in Brisbane, The Tivoli is one of our best, have you played it before?
“I feel like we have. Yeah, I don’t know, it sounds familiar, but then I am sure there are many venues called The Tivoli. I couldn’t say I remember every show that I do, cos I pretty much don’t. *laughs*”
I’ve no doubt you’ve played some amazing venues over the years, do you have a favourite or one that stands out in your memory?
“Oh that’s difficult really. There are so many great venues and we have played so many of them. The ones that really stick out for me, the shows that really stick out for me is some of the bigger shows. The biggest show we ever did was a Woodstock in Poland, it’s a free festival so everyone turned out, there were 400 thousand people watching us! I wish I could explain to you what that looks like. Maybe it was just that particular festival but there seemed to be like pockets of like fire breathers, like flags going for miles, it was like one of the war scenes from Game Of Thrones! Those are the kind of shows that stay in your memory.”
You mentioned your brother briefly before, I was going to say, it must be so great playing in a successful band with your brother, does a life experience like this bring you closer together?
“Well we were always pretty close. At one point it made it hard really because we just kind of lost the plot really and we weren’t talking when the band split up for a while but ever since we got back together we became best mates again, we have become stronger together. We both have a thing where we know when people are trying to…when people are being idiots basically, we both never miss that. Although the band is a democracy and all that kind of stuff and keeping it together, there will be times where we are like ‘nah we don’t wanna do this’. We are very conscious about our health; mental and physical, it is the most important thing. It’s much more important than selling records.”
The Darkness released a promo video for their new album and you simply must watch it. It’s perfectly hilarious and perfectly good at encouraging fans to want to hear the album. Job well done. But then, The Darkness know what they are doing, from the very beginning they have known. In the video Justin says “We are The Darkness and we bring you light!” Indeed. Music certainly brings light to all of us on even our darkest days. And The Darkness bring us new light with their new album ‘Easter Is Cancelled’. Bring on the tour!
You can pre-order your copy HERE now.
Plus grab your tickets to the tour HERE.
WED 11 MARCH – METROPOLIS, FREMANTLE
FRI 13 MARCH – ENMORE THEATRE, SYDNEY
SAT 14 MARCH – FORUM, MELBOURNE
SUN 15 MARCH – THE GOV, ADELAIDE
WED 18 MARCH – THE TIVOLI, BRISBANE
FRI 20 MARCH – POWERSTATION, AUCKLAND