Photo: Scarlet Page

20 Questions: The Darkness

The Darkness tackle barbarians and invaders on their dramatic and goofy fourth album. Guitarist Dan Hawkins also took time to tell PopMatters about his love for Yves Saint Laurent and Watership Down.
The Darkness
Last of Our Kind

The Darkness have, like their heroes AC/DC, withstood life’s hard knocks.

While everyone knows that their iconic 2003 hair-pop confection “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” will outlive most millennials, that overindulgent sophomore disc One Way Ticket to Hell… and Back sank most chances of the group rising above One Hit Wonder status. Frustrated, the group ventured off into other bands, with high-pitched vocalist Justin Hawkins trying his hand with the group Hot Leg, while guitarist Dan Hawkins and bassist Richie Edwards formed Stone Gods, both outfits releasing albums within a year of each other. Yet fate had other plans in store, and in 2012, the band released a long-awaited third disc, Hot Cakes, which contains what is arguably the greatest song they have ever done, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us”.

With solid sales and a fanbase that never really left them, the band made their way out Valentia Island to record the aptly-titled Last of Our Kind, a disc which spends its time talking about barbarians and ancient conquests while still delivering the roaring riff rockers that have become their signature. As if that wasn’t enough, the group even crowdsourced some group vocals on the soaring title track to their fans, known as The Darkness Army, who were more than happy to comply.

To celebrate the disc’s release, Dan Hawkins took on PopMatters’ 20 Questions and revealed to us a love of Watership Down, Yves Saint Laurent, and why he’d want to take a peek at what’s going on in the year 3000.

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1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

Watership Down by Richard Adams.

2. The fictional character most like you?

The 80’s British TV character Lovejoy (played by Ian McShane), because if I hadn’t entered the music trade I would be buying and selling antiques and solving crimes in a leather jacket.

3. The greatest album, ever?

The Beatles’ 20 Greatest Hits.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Trek.

5. Your ideal brain food?

Sitting quietly alone makes you produce thoughts.

6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?

Being alive. Most people who have lived like I have and also battled cancer are dead.

7. You want to be remembered for …?

Being the second-best rhythm guitar player ever, next to Malcolm Young.

8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?

AC/DC’s Malcolm Young, the Cult’s Billy Duffy, and Metallica’s James Hetfield.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

10. Your hidden talents… ?

Football, house renovations, interior decorating.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

“Stop worrying about things that don’t matter or you can’t change” — Justin Hawkins (my brother and frontman of the Darkness).

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

My Les Paul Standard guitar. If it were the Medieval times it would be my horse.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or… ?

Yves Saint Laurent.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

Stephen Hawking.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

To the year 3000, just to have a quick look and see how we got on.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?

Running at least ten kilometers.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or… ?

English Real Ale (preferably Harvey’s Best).

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

Country; the Sussex countryside in England, to be precise.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

Put more money into the National Health Service, as people are dying unnecessarily that have paid into the system all of their lives. Also, please increase the internet speed in my area, it’s shit.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on now?

The Darkness just finished our new album, Last of our Kind, which I engineered/produced and mixed. We are about to embark on a world tour in support of the record. And I’m also building my new recording studio. Busy times!