INTERVIEW: Dan Hawkins (THE DARKNESS)
Levi: How have you been ? How's the interview thing going so far?
Dan It's been really good actually, yeah, it's been a laugh.
Levi: Do you have a comfy chair and a drink and all that stuff? Do you get ready for these kinds of things?
Dan: I'm at the venue we're playing in tonight in Los Angeles, and they very kindly lent me one of their own desks, so I feel like I'm part of the office, part of the crew, one of the workers.
Levi: So you're not in your jumpsuit yet?
Dan: Not just yet no.
Levi: Funny, I was just thinking about the album "Permission to Land" today and it didn't feel that long ago that I bought it and I was like wow, its 2003. Does it feel like that long ago that that album came out?
Dan: You're getting old.
Levi: I am getting old.
Dan: It's scary isn't it? I'll tell you when it was the tenth anniversary of that album being released and we did a tour for it, before the end of last year was it? Year before. I couldn't believe it, it's like oh my god, that was ten years. Ten blooming years.
LevI: That's crazy. I remember when you came out and I know you've probably gotten this before, but with your band The Darkness, there were either the people who really loved you, or really hated you. When you went to release that album what did you think people would think of it? It was definitely different from what people were doing at the time.
Dan: Its funny isn't? When we started, it seemed to be people just hated us. Then we kind of became to the point where people either loved us or hated us, and now people just generally just hate us again. Maybe we fear resurgence maybe its like one of things where it just keeps going round. It was quite wild, we didn't really expect to sell as many record as we did, we were just trying to be as good as we could be and have as much fun as we could. We didn't take ourselves entirely seriously you know?
Levi: I think that's it. I think people just assume if you don't take yourself too seriously the you don't love rock n' roll as much or something crazy like that. I never quite understood it because I thought you guys were awesome from day one.
Dan: I think genuinely its like one of those things where it confused a lot of people. Justin's voice is really in your face. I think one thing is for certain that most of the people who weren't sure, didn't like us, if by any chance they came to see us play live, they would like us after that. It's our own fault, we confused people a lot by the ridiculous videos we made and so on and so forth. I think a lot of people went to the show and realized we're just a hard rock band having some fun.
Levi: I play guitar myself and a few years ago I decided I should learn to sing too and one of the first songs I got my singing teacher to teach me I was believe in a thing called love anf chose that song and she was really impressed she loved that song.
Dan: Wow, that's cool.
Levi: I did give up on the singing, but I did karaoke occasionally, I'm pretty hopeless.
Dan: Me too actually. What's your favorite karaoke song what's the one that you think you nail?
Levi: I always do Rocket Man, because I nailed it once and I can get it most times so that's my safe song.
Dan: The only thing is you can never guarantee what key it's going to be at karaoke can you?
Levi: For sure. Did you ever watch the show Flight of the Concords?
Dan: No I've heard of it, my brother's a big fan.
Levi: Apparently I sing like Jemaine from that show so I don't know if that's a compliment or not but apparently I've got a goofy voice.
Dan: Nothing wrong with a goofy voice
Levi: Definitely. You do have a new album out and I've been having a listen and you guys seem like you're a bit more serious these days. I don't know it's changed a bit the style, can you explain it?
Dan: Not really no, I think it's ... Don't know really. I guess this album is slightly less serious than the album before I think we've been getting kind of less and less serous. I think it's pretty much a risk based album and the subject matter is almost angry ... Not angry necessarily the album but edgy? It's not really edgy thought is it? I honestly can't explain it. The thing is we never really have an agenda. All we wanted to do was make a more risk based record this time round so that's what we kind of did.
Levi: You guys have been re-formed for several years now about three or four, do you all get along, you're all buddies again?
Dan: Yeah, we're getting on famously. I think we all really appreciate what we have now. Before it was like... We all just feel blessed that we can actually make a living on this. Very lucky that ... When we were really quite a big band we had a lot of fans but because we kind of crossed over into a kind of pop audience and that's what happens with pop audiences they go on tot he next thing or something else, their a transient audience so we're just lucky that we kept enough of a fan base to do our job, and make a living and carry on being The Darkness.
Levi: Would you ever want to try to capture that pop audience again or are you happy just being a rock band at a festival, that sort of crowd?
Dan: I'm really happy with where we are really. It's one of those things, it's not about money, and it's not about fame. Especially when you've had both of those you can really see clearly what it is, what life is all about and its not necessarily those two things.
Levi: I know you had parted with the drummer, the original drummer Ed Graham what happened there, are you guys friends and you just needed some time apart?
Dan: No, we've had issues with Ed over the years with his health and things like that. I can't really go into that, that's his thing really, but we're all still friends, we love Ed. I've known Ed since I was fourteen so it's just one of those things.
Levi: You were broken up officially for a couple years, what happened in that time? Did you stay in contact much, did you do your own thing? What was life like?
Dan: We kind of got busy with our various different things. Justin had a solo project, and I started a band called Stone Gods and I kind of threw myself into learning everything I could about producing and engineering records at that time as well. Which has served me well really. In a way it was good to be able to sort of do that because I wouldn't have had the chance and now I can go into any studio in the world and engineer and produce and mix records. We were all quite busy. We just needed to stop really, that was the main thing, and just be normal for a bit.
Levi: One band that's popped in the last four or so years is Steel Panther, and they kind of remind me of an American version of you guys. They're a bit of a piss take and don't take themselves too seriously. What do you think of Steel Panther? Have you seen any of their live shows before?
Dan: I haven't. I've heard they're really, really good. The thing about Steel Panther is they are actors and it is a parody act. I think we are a bit different from that to be perfectly honest.
Levi: I was trying to convince myself its real and then I saw a picture of him in the wig and I didn't want to believe it.
Dan: That's the thing is its not real, and we are. That doesn't mean to say that I don't think they're awesome, because I think they're really funny and incredible musicians, but I think that's the only real comparison between the two, I don't know, possibly the outfits?
Levi: Was Spinal Tap ever an influence for you guys?
Dan: I think they were an influence for everyone. Spinal Tap is life. I wouldn't go as far as saying that I want the band to sound like them though. I think Spinal Tap is actually real life for us.
Levi: I'd love to come on a tour with you guys and see what its like. I watch spinal tap every year and I imagine, you just seem like a fun bunch of guys. You're coming to Australia in November, what can we expect from the show?
Dan: Loads of new stuff, loads of old stuff, just some guys with some fucking outrages outfits having a blast.
Levi: Awesome. Any chance to work on new songs or anything like that yet, or is it a bit too early?
Dan: Yeah no we've written about twenty, well to be precise, we've twenty three songs for the next album. That was only in our first sort of writing album.
Levi: Is it going to be a double album you think or are you going to have to cut some down?
Dan: No, no, it's best to just get your absolute best. The next album I want to be a nine track album. I don't even want ten, I want nine.
Levi: I like short albums because I have a short attention span and I get about 45 minutes is good for me I think.
Dan: Exactly. It works well when vinyl was the main format. Nobody complained about that did they?
Levi: Even though I love Pink Floyd - The Wall, and the Beatles - White Album I just can't listen to that album in one go.
Dan: It's quality not quantity.