THE DARKNESS Guitarist Says Recording Cover Songs Is 'A Waste Of Time'

December 10, 2017

Brothers Dan and Justin Hawkins of British rockers THE DARKNESS were interviewed by prior to the November 12 stop of their "European Tour De Prance". The full chat can be viewed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):

On whether people still "misunderstand" the band:

Justin: "There's definitely people that don't appreciate what we do, but that makes the enthusiasts even more special to us. You can't please all the people all the time. We don't have such a broad appeal that we have to deal with people that much. We've got our fanbase, and for the last few years, we've only been playing to them. They're great — and they're clever people. They understand what we're trying to do."

Dan: "A lot of people see us play live at a festival and they don't know much about the band, apart from maybe one or two singles 10, 15 years ago, they genuinely can be quite surprised, I think."

Justin: "That's why it's good to play at festivals. You get people who are just waiting for the next band, or who are just drunk in a field, and you get a chance to make some new friends. It's really important when we play at festivals, we give a good show, and then people can discover us that way. The only thing that matters to our business is live work. It's where we concentrate all of our efforts, and it's what it's all about — performances."

On the group's new album, "Pinewood Smile":

Justin: "I feel like this is a really concise album with no low points. When you have these nine tracks that we chose for the vinyl, it's a great album, top to bottom. You can pick any one of those songs, and it's, 'Yes, we're proud of that.' I think 'Japanese Prisoner Of Love' is a really good indication of where we're going, because it's got a really powerful riff, ludicrous lyrics, it's melodic, and it has a lot of layers to it in terms of the way it's produced and recorded. It's really in-your-face, and it has quiet bits as well, so it has dynamics. I think for me, that's probably the one that says the most about where we're at artistically."

On what new drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor brought to the album:

Justin: "The process changed a little bit because now we've got Rufus in the band. With a different personality comes a different methodology, and it took us a little while to establish who does what — what roles people play in the writing process. It's a collective effort, but everybody does certain things to a lesser or greater degree."

Dan: "Luckily, he fit straight in. He was recommended to us through Brian May's guitar tech, who, when he found out that [former drummer] Ed [Graham] left the band, he said, 'You've got to try Rufus out. He's an amazing drummer, and a really good laugh.' The second I met him, I just knew he was a good laugh, and very confident. They're kind of two of the most important things, really. He's a really nice guy. That helps — but not essential.

Justin: "I think it is quite important to get on with people. You have to coexist to a certain extent for half the year when you're on tour, so you can't have somebody in the band who you think is an anus — especially when they're new. It's good that he's a great person, but also, his playing, he has a great feel, and he's really powerful, and he's very technical as well. I think he's the best drummer we've ever worked with."

On the band's new single, "Happiness":

Justin: "That's a controversial one. It's one of those songs where we all looked at each other and said, 'Uh-oh — we shouldn't be doing this, because it's going to be a single.' It doesn't really represent the band — it doesn't sound like us. It's a bit like BLUR's 'Song 2'. The label immediately said, 'Oh, that's the single,' and we didn't even want it on the album. We saw it as a bonus track, really.

"For me, if a radio plugger says to you, 'Let me use this song to put on the radio because it makes my job easier,' my instinct would be, 'Well, why should I make your fucking job easier? This is the single — go put that on the fucking radio. That's your job.' But we don't live in that world, apparently. I think on the next album, we will live in that world, because we've been doing it ass-backwards — I don't know, asses are supposed to go backwards; we've been doing it ass-forwards for a couple of albums, and it's not exciting for us."

On why the band hasn't yet recorded a cover song:

Dan: "It always seems like a bit of a shame. It seems like a waste of time to cover someone's song when there are so many songs that you write jostling for position on the album. It's better to create — it's better to draw something than color it in."

On the importance of setlist sequencing:

Dan: "The one thing you've got to remember is that you can't just get rid of the ballads. Ultimately, people are drinking before the show — a lot of people are, anyway — and at some point during the show, they're going to need a piss. That's why the ballad was invented. It wasn't for love reasons; it was to allow people to have a piss. If you get rid of the ballads — if you get rid of the go-to-the-bar section, toilet, whatever you want to do — you kind of have to reduce the set length as well, because what you're trying to do is keep people there the whole time, and keep them rocking so hard that they piss themselves."

Released on October 6, "Pinewood Smile" finds THE DARKNESS in electrifying form, delivering some of the most sharp-witted, infectious and downright brilliant songs of their career. Upon its release, the album was greeted with rave reviews, including four stars in issues of Q, Planet Rock and Mojo magazines.

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