Monday 19 August 2019

The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins: I didn’t understand Brexit

The singer talks politics, new music and how his life has changed since the death of musician Tom Petty.

The Darkness gig – London
The Darkness gig – London

By Francesca Gosling Press Association Entertainment Reporter

The Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins has joked that he should be next in line for the US presidency as he hit out at the “craziness” of a “celebrity” leading the White House.

In a tirade about both Donald Trump’s rise to leadership and Brexit, the singer told how he had been tempted to include a political theme in the band’s latest record, Pinewood Smile.

The Classic Rock Roll of Honour – London

The Lowestoft group’s fifth studio album comes two years after 2015’s Last Of Our Kind and drastic changes in the global political landscape.

“I wanted to call our last album Rise Of The Arse Clowns, because there were some really strange decisions happening in the political arena that I didn’t understand,” he told the Press Association.

“I didn’t understand Brexit, and it’s very strange to see the most powerful position in the world occupied by somebody who was on Home Alone and The US Apprentice – it’s mental.

“I deserve to be president, I’ve been on telly three or four times, so I’ve got to be in with a chance. I might not know anything about politics, but that’s never stopped anybody else.”

He continued: “There is a temptation to do political (music), but that only works in the present.

“In future, when people wake up and realise how stupid we’ve all been, it will work itself out and those songs won’t matter.”

Hawkins said the group is now more focussed on maturing their image from the high-pitched novelty rockers responsible for I Believe In A Thing Called Love and Christmas Time, to a world-class rock and roll act, having come back from a three-year hiatus following their 2006 split.

The 42-year-old explained: “We were so busy back in the day that we never really had a chance to sit down and take stock of how we sounded and what we were going through – I think that’s part of the reason why we had to have a break.

“People assumed that we weren’t coming back, and then when we came back we didn’t make enough impact for people to realise that we had done so, so that has been an issue for the last two albums.

The Darkness gig – London

“I think it’s different now … We are finding our place in the music trade, we’ve got our fan base and we are trying to expand it, but we’re not changing what we do to achieve that.

“Now we know what we are letting ourselves in for, we are aiming high, we want to take over the world … that might not be achievable but so long as the process is enjoyable that’s OK.

He joked: “I don’t think a sane, level-headed person can listen to the new album and tell you that it isn’t the greatest rock album of the last 10 years – and if they do say that, it’s because they are lying or their wife fancies me.”

As the group embark on a UK tour from Thursday, Hawkins told how his attitude to music has also been influenced by the recent death of his hero, US artist Tom Petty at the age of 66.

Tom Petty death

“It has actually changed the way I live now,” he admitted

“Tom was taken too soon and I am really upset about it. If you have goals and dreams and stuff you want to do, life really is too short.

“If we were doing this interview a year ago I probably wouldn’t be saying stuff like ‘our work is of sublime quality’ but now I’ve just got to say how I feel – if I don’t I might regret it.”

Celebrating more than 17 years on the airwaves, The Darkness are also the subject of a documentary by Simon Emmett. Following both the ups and downs of the band’s history, Hawkins promised fans that it will be a “delight”.

PA Media

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