THE DARKNESS gave a backstage press conference at CARLING WEEKEND: READING FESTIVAL today (August 27) – and NME.COM was down the front.
Shortly before their headline appearance at the festival the group met the press in a backstage tent, and took questions for half an hour. Here’s what happened.
How do you feel about headlining Reading?
Justin Hawkins: “It’s the pinnacle headlining Reading. This is our ambition. Me and Ed (Graham) used to come here and drink heavily in a tent. As punters it was always the best festival and now we’re headlining it is literally a dream come true.”
Why is Reading better?
Justin: “Why is it better? Have you seen the celebrity area through there? It is magnificent. There is not drop of mud amongst it. It is wonderful. I’m not really sure why it is so special to be honest. It has a certain panache. They don’t have a vocabulary or a glossary. It has got a certain magic about it. It has like a rock heritage as opposed to a heritage of healing fields which is fine for a lot of people. But where we are coming from is the planet of rock. This is a much more appropriate vessel.”
Are you hungry?
Justin: “Are we hungry? We are hungry for meat.”
What sort of meat?
Justin: “Horse I think.”
How would you respond to press speculation that there is dissent in the ranks?
Dan Hawkins: “That has only come about because there hasn’t been any single releases or us actually doing any gigs in the UK unfortunately becomes headlines for them because people often make things up. Unfortunately we rise to the bait sometimes and go yeah.”
Justin: “We have always been a bunch of miserable cunts anyway.”
Dan: “The good thing about this band is that we all get on.”
Justin: “We are freak depressants and manic depressants. There have always been cracks but we have always been brilliant at papering over them.”
Do you see this as the end of ‘Permission To Land’ today?
Justin: “Today and tomorrow spell the end of our mainland and our assault on Britain in terms of this album. We were supposed to be touring it until the end of the year. But at the end of year of course we will be touring some of our new material from our forthcoming album which will be our second album which is hard to believe in five years of trying. But we are always looking forward to writing some new stuff and playing it for the benefit of our legion of very loyal fans who deserve more material. But it is time to stop and this is the part when we say hey everyone it has been a great year. We’ll see you next time.”
Dan: “I think this is the first time that a lot of our fans who bought the album will get to see us because we haven’t done an arena tour. We have been out conquering the rest of the world. I’ve got no doubt at all it will be the first time at least half the people out there have seen us. We only ever play small shows.”
Are you knackered then?
Justin: “We don’t look knackered do we? What are you trying to say? No. It is not a physical exhaustion thing. It’s not like we can’t cope with the workload. All it is we want to inject some fresh meat into our set really. It is time to up the stakes a little bit and show people where we are going because we haven’t really had a chance to develop because we are always on the road playing the same songs day in day out which sounds like we’re whingeing and I suppose we are in some ways.”
Are you going to inject the meat tonight?
Justin: “There will be a large Darkness meat injection to the crowd this evening.”
For the new album will you there be a bit of a new look?
Justin: “One of the problems that we have found worldwide is that people assume that we are American because of the nature of the music. I think one of the reasons for that is the absence of the bowler hat and briefcase. So we’ll be looking to incorporate that somehow.”
Lots of people are saying that you’re headlining Reading with just one debut album?
Justin “Well that would be very correct. We could deny it but we would be wrong.”
Dan: “On our day even our B-sides are better than most of the headline act’s songs and hopefully today will be one of those days. It sounds arrogant but we wind ourselves up about it.”
Justin: “I think people who have bought tickets know full well that we’re headlining and its supply and demand really. We are happy to do this.
“When we did T In The Park and we were replacing David Bowie there was a slightly different vibe about that one because that is a man who has got a long career of fabulous songs and a whole back catalogue to choose from. He could do a whole greatest hits set. We didn’t feel we were appropriate headliners that day because it should have been him.
“But we have always been headliners for this Reading Festival and we don’t feel ashamed to perform that function. That is why we are here really. We came to headline the festival.”
Who have you been hanging out with backstage?
Justin: “Family and friends. We are keeping it close knit.”
Dan: “Apart from Ash, the Goldie Lookin’ Chain and possibly Har Mar.”
I hear a rumour that you are starting a band with Har Mar Superstar and Tim Wheeler from Ash?
Justin: “I would prefer not to speak of that matter at this exact time. I want to concentrate on my side project, The Darkness.”
Have you got a working title for the album?
Justin: “At the moment we are calling it ‘White Slave’.”
Do you have no plans to settle down in the country and have kids or whatever?
Justin: “That depends which country you are on about.”
Have you got a band motto?
Justin: “If something is worth doing, it’s worth overdoing, or you can’t polish a turd. No, it is better to praise the light than curse The Darkness is our motto.”
What do you think of Morrissey playing tomorrow night?
Justin: “It would be nice to see him but I think we will be in Leeds.”
Is ‘Growing On Me’ really about venerial disease?
Justin: “It is about genital warts. I’ve got a friend of mine called Terry who has some.”
Are you going to make a movie?
Justin: “We are in the process of making excruciating behind the scenes, fly on the wall (film)…It is too depressing at the moment because we did some screen tests for it and a lot of folk felt like slitting their wrists which is not really The Darkness experience.”
Does it bear any resemblance to ‘…Spinal Tap’?
Justin: “There is a four piece band in it and one us has a moustache. So yes.”
Has being a star sunk in yet or do wake up in the morning and pinch yourself?
Dan: “That is a really tough question. Probably not really because we have been on the road for so long.”
Any chance of you doing another Christmas song this year?
Dan: “We wanted to but we can’t.”
How is it going in America?
Justin: “Brilliant. America is fantastic. I find that question amazing really because people say that Americans are a different species and they really are. I think a lot of other countries look to the UK for inspiration for what is going to be the hit new sound. Generally speaking proportion of the population enjoy the music that we do and you can guarantee that they will enjoy it in America as well and they do.
“A lot of people say Robbie Williams hasn’t made it in America but he has sold millions of records. He has sold more than we have. It is actually one of the best kept secrets in music really.
“Everybody knows us in America because we are on MTV so we’re gonna give them another album and go ‘Listen to this you American people you’re gonna love it’.”
What are you most proud in the last two years of this incredible ride?
Justin: “Winning the Soccer Sixes. Scoring two goals against GLC because they had Neville Southall in goal and there aren’t many people who can say that.”
Why do you believe in a thing called love?
Justin: “That song was written a long time ago love.”
Keane apologised for insulting The Darkness recently. Do you accept their apology?
Justin: “They didn’t insult us anyway. We just didn’t like their music and that’s fine.I actually quite enjoyed the singles that we heard to be honest. I heard a few songs on the radio and it is very difficult to make a judgement on a band based on their singles. But they alright. Poppy Radiohead.”
Are there any bands you would like to work with?
Justin: “There are a lot of bands we would like to work with. We have a firm affiliation with the GLC. But we are more concerned about getting a second album out now. We are more concerned with that than collaborations because it might be completely worthless.”
Is the second album finished?
Justin: “Well it will be out next year basically. It is not going to be a concept album. It will be just like the last one really.”