The Darkness – Across The Ocean

The Darkness

The Darkness have landed in Oz! The Darkness are back for another Australian tour to celebrate the release of their newish album Last Of Our Kind. Across The Ocean had the opportunity to speak to Dan Hawkins about the album and how he produced and engineered this one. There’s plenty of good things on the horizon for The Darkness with a much talked about Christmas album.

the-darkness-promo

Having a bit of a snooze on the tour bus hey?

Um, power nap they call it!

How has the US tour gone so far?

Yeah great, really cool, it is the last day today in Boston. We’ve worked our way from the West Coast to the East Coast. It has been pretty good really and the most heavily attended shows we have done since we reformed. We’re building step by step in America very gradually.

Is that’s what’s so hard stopping for too long and then picking up the momentum again particularly in the US?

Funnily enough out of all the places America was one of the easiest, I wouldn’t say we were ever massive in America and we always played on average a thousand people a night, so we came back and were able to play to about seven to eight hundred and now we’re up to a thousand again. Whereas other parts of the world we went from two thousand to about three or four hundred, so it hasn’t been too bad really. We are all fully aware that we need to stop taking so long between albums as we’re only getting out every year to year and a half now.

Another Australian tour is really cool, do you get a few days to recharge before the tour starts?

Yeah, fantastic! Can’t wait! We’re straight in to this tour and its going to tale twenty four hours of actual flying because we have a couple of internals in America before we fly to Australia then when we get there its Sydney to Adelaide. To be honest that’s twenty four hours of sitting down so that should be enough.

Has the success of Last Of Our Kind exceeded your expectations?

I guess so, we really did care a lot about this album and we dug in and did our thing really. There was a lot of turmoil as well during the making of the record, we changed management, changed labels and there’s a lot of that usual stuff going on like all the legal things that are generally quite stressful. We kind of started from scratch when the team around us went because we weren’t happy with where we were really at. I did everything on this record as far producing it, engineering it, mixing it and over it the whole time. It is great to be able to see a vision through from start to finish without handing it to someone else or having someone interfere with song choices, track listing or permission to work with certain people. Unfortunately we did have to disappear for a year to do it. It won’t be an option next time for the next record.

Did you ever think you would be producing your own records?

I always wanted to, to be honest. On the first record I wasn’t credited as a producer because I was a bit wet behind the ears and I didn’t fight my corner. Pedro and I who produced that album had a production partnership, he was basically the engineer and I was the producer of the record but unfortunately I got bulldozed out of the way half through the record. There you go! I always wanted to produce The Darkness and in a way I always have done.

Was it a bit surreal recording the album in your own home studio?

Yeah, I’ve pretty much ran a commercial studio and I built my own residential studio which I was running as a business. The last album that was done at the studio was Hot Cakes and when that was finished I sold it off, sold the building and moved all the major equipment and put them in to a flight case version of a studio. It’s kind of like a portable state of the art recording studio and we figured that all we really needed is a space. I’ve got all the microphones, mixing desk and everything I need except the space. That is quite easy to find and borrow houses off people, so that’s what we do.

Do you think recording in Ireland influenced the recording?

I don’t know, that is an interesting question and I think it was quite a moody place where we were. I’m sure it had an influence especially songs like Roaring Waters and Barbarian. I think it does have an impact on what you do but I don’t think it is as much as you think. Really, you could just be anywhere. We just did a lot of writing in Spain and there are no flamenco influences on there, know what I mean.

Did you think Barbarian was one of those songs after recording it you knew you nailed?

That happened really quickly, the thing was that the riff was there. I brought the riff in and everyone really liked it and everything else was in a holding pattern just waiting and serving that riff. I was really glad that it turned in to a song. Justin literally farted out those lyrics and it came very quickly. With us some songs take months and others its literally three minutes. I wish they were all three minutes!

The album closer Conqueror, whose idea was it to have Frankie sing on it?

I was pushing really hard for that. Justin and I really want Frank to do it, it wasn’t Frank’s idea. What it is, we sit around in a room when we are writing and sometimes there will be a backing track without any lyrics on it at some point, which the mic in the room is open to offers and whoever grabs the mic on the playback, it will be in record and you can sing whatever you want. Half the song was written on the spot with Frank just adlibbing. It was gibberish, the lyrics were gibberish and didn’t make any sense so together with Frankie we fleshed it out in to a story. I think we want to do more of that and they’re putting the pressure on me to sing and I don’t think anyone wants to hear that on the next record but unfortunately that might actually happen.

Has changing drummers changed the dynamic of the band now from Emily to Rufus?

To be fair Emily was employed to do the record because we parted ways with Ed. The reason Emily is on the record because I asked around people that I knew in the industry as to who is the best session drummer around we should look at and people mentioned her. We tried it on the road and it didn’t really work and it was never going to be a permanent thing whereas Rufus is. He has actually become part of the band and is contributing song writing wise. He also is half the sum of our ages so there is definitely a punchier sound since he has come on board.

Has Rufus inherited Justin’s fashion sense? The knickerbockers were a highlight last tour!

The less of those the better! He certain is on board with being in The Darkness for sure.

Is the release of the deluxe edition of Last Of Our Kind purely to keep the momentum going?

This is the thing, when the label needs to print some more CD’s because they have run out and we’re at the end of the campaign it is the sort of thing where we were collating everything on to one album so there is a definitive version out there if anyone should want to buy it. We have gone to special effort with this and we wrote a song especially for it and we held a couple back from the album as well writing a Christmas song to go on it. It is one of those things I would like us to have a Christmas album and in seven years time we will be able to have one if we do a Christmas song each year. It’s a double whammy really and get a Christmas song on there and all the songs associated with this record on to one CD so we can move on to the next.

Do they still have Christmas singles in the UK or is that dying off like everything else?

Well, thanks to the X-Factor and all that shit unfortunately it did die a death because they have a monopoly on who is at number one at Christmas time. We don’t care! If we can bring back the tradition of people releasing Christmas records then fantastic. The problem is that most labels know, excuse the pun, that you don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell in getting anything near the top chart positions. People have given up trying to enter the race, we’re aware of that and we don’t care! We’ll release them anyway, we love Christmas!

Will there be a Darkness live album at some point because that’s the heart and soul of the band playing live?

I think you hit the nail of head there, the problem with us is that even though we’re pretty tight and competent musicians, anyone will be able to tell you that at a Darkness show we spend most of the time running around doing stupid tricks and fucking standing on our heads and shit. There’s more than a few bung notes when we play and it can be completely chaotic and you never know who is going to be on the stage or what’s going to happen. It’s like every night thank god that nobody got hurt kind of thing. It doesn’t add up to the possibility of having a really neat live album recording. If its accompanied visually then I think it will probably happen. We are looking in to that and hoping to film the Roundhouse show in London at the end of this album tour but you really need a couple of dates on the trot and it sterilises the gig when you light it the way that you have to so that it works for TV. Our fans pay good money to come and see us play and I don’t think they would want to go to a show where the house lights are on the whole time. I’d love to do it but not at the expense of the fans.

Rob Lyon

Rob Lyon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rob Lyon has been writing about all things music for well over ten years in Adelaide clocking up more live shows each year seeing the best going round.

Whether it is rummaging through vinyl at record stores such as Clarity and Title finding hidden gems to scouring the internet to find that album by the next big thing or chasing bands to get that elusive autograph and photo his passion is music all the way.
Rob Lyon

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