Rock 'n' roll will never truly die.
Just take the Darkness, a British glam-rock band that harks back to a time when unitards were acceptable onstage male attire, guitars were loud, and songs were sung in only the highest pitches.
The sexy, rockin' outfit released its massive debut, Permission to Land, in 2003. But the followup failed. And the Darkness has since conquered alcoholism, drug addiction, and infighting to return in a triumphant tornado of guitars, glitter, and falsettos.
Now, touring the United States with a well-received new record just released, Darkness guitarist Dan Hawkins spoke to New Times about Lady Gaga, sobriety, and the enduring relevance of rock.
New Times: What's it like having a second chance to do what the Darkness does after the band split up so tumultuously?
Dan Hawkins: Fantastic, really! We're just a rock 'n' roll band. We try to kind of put a sort of stadium-size rock 'n' roll show into whatever venue we're in, and it doesn't really concern us how many people are there. It doesn't matter whether there are 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!
Was it weird opening for a pop artist like Lady Gaga?
She's definitely heavily influenced by the same music [as we are], 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 laughingstock 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 would be to give us the middle finger!
How has touring sober made a difference?
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Touring sober has just been awesome, actually. I'm a rock 'n' roller, and I certainly have a tendency not to trust people who are sober. [laughs] And I can understand why people would certainly not trust a band that's sober. I mean, God, where's the rock 'n' roll in that?! You don't buy into all that when you're a teenager. You're into that music because it speaks to a part of you that basically is drunk! [laughs] I mean, that's one way of looking at it!
What do you say to critics who have a very negative take on nostalgia acts and revivalist music?
People who get a bit up their ass about nostalgia acts and people who think these bands are there just to take people's money should ask how the audience feels about it. At the end of the day, you're going to be pretty sorry when you don't get a chance to see a band like Aerosmith play because they're all fucking dead, which probably won't be too long from now. [laughs] And the same goes for the Stones.
Just enjoy them while they're around! No one's made anything like Aerosmith or the Stones for God knows how long. They're a complete oddity! The reason they're around in the first place is because they were so different from everything else, which means it doesn't matter how old they are — they'll still be completely different from anyone else! So get off your fucking high horse and go see the band you want to see and stop fucking whining about it!