The Darkness (band)
|Origin||Lowestoft, Suffolk, England|
The Darkness are a British rock band formed in Lowestoft, Suffolk, in 2000. The band consists of Justin Hawkins (lead vocals, lead guitar), his brother Dan Hawkins (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Frankie Poullain (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Rufus Tiger Taylor (drums, backing vocals).
The Darkness came to prominence with the release of their debut album, Permission to Land, in 2003. Backed by the singles "I Believe in a Thing Called Love", "Growing on Me", "Get Your Hands off My Woman", and "Love is Only a Feeling", the album was certified quadruple platinum in the United Kingdom, with sales of over 1.3 million. In 2004 the band won three Brit Awards: Best British Group, Best British Rock Act, and Best British Album.
After extensive touring in support of their debut album, Poullain left the band in 2005, and was replaced by former guitar technician Richie Edwards. The band's second studio album, One Way Ticket to Hell... and Back, was released in November 2005. The following year, Justin Hawkins departed from the band after successfully completing a course of rehabilitation from alcohol and cocaine abuse. As a result, the remaining members formed Stone Gods, and continued to perform and record without Hawkins, who subsequently fronted his own project, Hot Leg.
On 15 March 2011, The Darkness announced reunion shows, with original bassist Frankie Poullain, including Download Festival 2011, and the Isle of Wight Festival 2012. Their third album, Hot Cakes, was released on 20 August 2012. Original drummer Ed Graham then left the band, feeling the strain of touring was affecting his personal life, in which he had pressing issues. In 2015 a fourth studio album was announced, entitled Last of Our Kind, which was released on 2 June 2015. A fifth album, Pinewood Smile, was released on 6 October 2017 and one year later on 15 June 2018 a live album, Live at Hammersmith, was also released. Their sixth studio album, Easter Is Cancelled was released on 4 October 2019.
Justin and Dan Hawkins played together as teenagers in a band which, according to Dan Hawkins, "did a lot of Marillion covers, Bruce Springsteen, Genesis" and were "a bit prog-y." Justin Hawkins had been initially inspired to play guitar by Brian May of Queen, as he loved his tone and vibrato.
Originally known as Empire, the band generated some music industry buzz through their manager Sue Whitehouse, who was based at Savage & Best in Camden. Whitehouse, had managed them since Justin Hawkins' time as a creator of music jingles.
Renamed as The Darkness they became renowned for their live show, and such was the popularity of the band, they had a Carling Homecoming gig booked for the London Astoria before they had even signed a record deal.
Joe Taylor, Aled Jones and Paul Scaife at The Tip Sheet first heard about the band through a post on The Tip Sheet message board, and featured Love Is Only A Feeling in January 2002. They started Record of the Day, and featured the song again around the time of SXSW in March 2003. They wanted to feature Friday Night too but they were told the band was saving it for an album.
According to A&R Nick Raphael in an interview with HitQuarters, there was no initial clamour to sign the band, "There couldn’t have been less of a buzz, and only two record labels showed any interest in them." He believes the reason for lack of interest was that "The business as a whole thought they were uncool. In fact, people were saying that they were a joke and that they weren’t real." However, throughout their career critics around the world would label them as a "joke band." As part of Sony Music UK, Raphael had attempted to sign them, but the band instead opted to go with Atlantic Records.
Permission to Land and commercial success (2003–2005)
Their debut album, Permission to Land, went straight up to number two in the UK charts upon its release on 7 July 2003, before going to number one and staying there for four weeks, eventually going on to sell 1.5 million copies in the UK.
The success of this album led to heavy touring for the band, including European portions of Metallica's Summer Sanitarium Tour 2003. They then went on to headline the Carling Festival in 2004. The band won three BRIT Awards in 2004 in response to the album, Best Group, Best Rock Group and Best Album. They also won two Kerrang! awards in 2004 for Best Live Act and Best British Band. The third single from the album, "I Believe in a Thing Called Love", was a substantial hit in the UK as was their tilt at the Christmas 2003 number 1, "Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End)", which only just fell short, both singles reaching number 2 in 2003.
One Way Ticket to Hell... And Back and decline (2005–2006)
In October 2005, a month before the album was to be officially released, Justin Hawkins won an eBay auction for a copy of One Way Ticket to Hell ...and Back for £350 under the username 'turbogunhawk'. He claimed he did this so that he could track down whoever sold the digitally-marked advance copy of the album and try to prevent it from happening again.
"One Way Ticket", the first single from their second album, was released on 14 November 2005, debuting and peaking at number 8 on the UK Singles Chart. The album itself was released on 28 November 2005 to mixed reviews. The album was produced by rock producer Roy Thomas Baker, best known for his work with Queen. Early sales figures in the UK showed the album had not sold as well as its predecessor, Permission to Land. The album debuted at number 11, and fell to number 34 in the second week of its release. Although it has since reached platinum status, this contrasts with their debut's five times platinum status.
The second single taken from their second album was "Is It Just Me?", released on 20 February 2006. The single gained a preliminary position of No. 6 all that week, but finally charted at number 8. The album's third single, "Girlfriend", was Released 22 May and charted at number 39.
The band followed up their second album with a tour of the UK and Ireland, consisting of 12 dates in the major cities. The tour opened in Dublin's Point Depot on 4 February and closed in the Nottingham Arena on 20 February. Few of the venues sold out, their appeal seemingly having become more selective. Their world tour, which followed, arrived in Australia and Japan after touring Scandinavia and Continental Europe in March.
Justin Hawkins' departure and breakup (2006)
In August 2006, lead singer Justin Hawkins was admitted to a rehabilitation clinic in concern of his health, which caused the band to cancel several concerts. Around this same time the band confirmed that they were to start working on their third album to be released early 2007. Tabloid rumours held that Justin Hawkins was leaving the band after completing his course of rehabilitation from alcohol and cocaine problems, and the band would continue without him, possibly with Richie Edwards as the front man. In response to the story being reported by the media, The Darkness confirmed on their official forum:
"We're sorry that you had to find this out through the newspapers, but we were hoping until the last minute that this – Justin's exit – wasn't going to happen. We – Dan, Ed and Richie – are still in total shock and can't say at this stage what the future holds. We would like to thank all our fans, partners and family for their continuous support. You will hear from us, once we know what we want to do..."
Using the pseudonym British Whale, Hawkins went on to release a cover version of the Sparks song "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us", reaching No. 6 in the UK Singles Chart. In 2007, he launched a failed attempt to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest.
In 2011, Hawkins gave a different explanation for his departure from the band, saying he had left because he felt the band had stopped being creative.
Other projects (2006–2011)
On 9 November 2007, it was announced on The University of East Anglia's student union website that a new band had been created comprising Dan Hawkins (lead guitar), Toby MacFarlaine (bass), Ed Graham (drums) and Ritchie Edwards (vocals/guitar). The name of the band was The Stone Gods.
In 2008, Justin Hawkins formed a new band, Hot Leg with Pete Rinaldi (of Anchorhead), Samuel SJ Stokes (formerly of The Thieves) and Darby Todd (from Protect the Beat). In 2009 Hot Leg released an album, Red Light Fever, which failed to make a dent on the charts (#81). Three singles were taken from it with two of them failing to chart.
Reunion and Hot Cakes (2011–2013)
In March 2011, the four original band members reunited. They played three warm-up shows in Norwich, Leamington and at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire, before performing at the 2011 Download Festival. This was followed by an "intimate" show at London's 100 Club, which featured support from Dark Stares and notable appearances from Queen guitarist Brian May and comedian Rufus Hound. The band then toured Japan, the UK and Ireland.
A new song, "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us", was released in February 2012 as a free download. They toured North America, playing with Crown Jewel Defense and Foxy Shazam, then performed at the Sweden Rock Festival in Sölvesborg, Sweden and the 18th Przystanek Woodstock. Singles "Every Inch of You" and "Everybody Have a Good Time" were released in May and June 2012, respectively, ahead of their third album, Hot Cakes, which came out in August. Throughout the summer The Darkness played a series of festival dates, including headlining the Big Top Tent at the 2012 Isle of Wight Festival, and were the opening act for the European and African leg of Lady Gaga's The Born This Way Ball world tour.
A new non-album song, "The Horn", was released in late 2013 as a digital download.
Last of Our Kind and new line-up (2014–2017)
The band began work on their fourth studio album in September 2014, with Emily Dolan Davies replacing Ed Graham on drums. The new album, Last of Our Kind, was released on 2 June 2015, on the band's own label Canary Dwarf Records via Kobalt Label Services with a single, "Open Fire", released on 23 March. The first track from the album to be premiered was "Barbarian", which was released with an accompanying animated music video on 23 February.
On 21 April 2015, the band issued a statement saying that drummer Davies had left the band. On 25 April 2015, it was announced via the band's official Facebook page that Rufus Taylor, the son of Queen drummer Roger Taylor, was to join the band as Davies' replacement on drums.
They were announced as the first headline act for Planet Rockstock 2015, taking place at Trecco Bay in South Wales from 4 to 7 December 2015. The Darkness will be closing the proceedings on 6 December.
On 20 November 2015, the band released a music video for a new Christmas single, entitled "I Am Santa" on their YouTube Channel, which it was announced would be included in the Deluxe edition of the Last of Our Kind album.
Pinewood Smile (2017–2019)
The Darkness worked on a feature-length documentary, directed by Simon Emmett. In a 2016 interview, Frankie Poullain said, "We are currently over a year in to a feature-length documentary which will surprise a lot of people."
In March 2017, The Darkness announced that their 5th album would be released in 2017. This was confirmed in a July issue of Planet Rock, and later on the band's Facebook page. The album's title was later revealed as Pinewood Smile, and was due to be released on 6 October of the same year. The first single from the album 'All The Pretty Girls' was released on 22 July of that year.  The band embarked on a winter tour of the UK in November and December 2017.
In May 2017, The Darkness performed at the Australian touring music festival Groovin' the Moo, performing at six regional cities across Australia. They performed as a de facto opening act for the "headline act" of the festival, Violent Soho, and supported Guns N' Roses on the European leg of their tour.
In 2018, the band supported US supergroup Hollywood Vampires on their European tour, which included their first performances in UK arenas in several years. They also announced their first live album, Live at Hammersmith, a recording of their December 2017 concert at the Eventim Apollo in London. This was released on 15 June 2018.
Easter Is Cancelled (2019-present)
2019 saw the Darkness release their latest album Easter Is Cancelled on 4 October 2019 through Cooking Vinyl. Easter Is Cancelled became the band’s fourth UK Top 10 album and topped the Official Charts Top 40 Rock And Metal Chart and the iTunes Rock Chart, while the record has achieved over 3 million streams on Spotify alone.
The album was released to a generally positive response from music critics while the previous singles "Heart Explodes" and "Rock and Roll Deserves to Die" proved a radio hit on the playlists of Radio 2, Absolute, Kerrang and more. The comedic video for "Rock and Roll Deserves to Die" has also individually surpassed 1 million views.
The band commenced their UK tour of the Easter Is Cancelled album on 25 November 2019 in Ireland, culminating on December 20th at London's Roundhouse.
2020 has seen the band undertake a tour to Europe at the end of January, followed by Australia, New Zealand and the United States. In response to measures imposed by the Governments of Australia and New Zealand to counter the impact of COVID-19, the band was forced to abandon the tour following a show in Adelaide, Australia. Social media postings made subsequently referenced uncertainty around the timing of the American leg, but that all efforts would be made to ensure those performances would go ahead. No further update has been provided around rescheduling of the lost Australia dates.
- Permission to Land (2003)
- One Way Ticket to Hell... and Back (2005)
- Hot Cakes (2012)
- Last of Our Kind (2015)
- Pinewood Smile (2017)
- Easter Is Cancelled (2019)
Awards and honours
- Kerrang! Best Album (Permission to Land)
- Kerrang! Best Live Act
- Metal Hammer 'Golden God' for Best Single (Get Your Hands off My Woman)
- Kerrang! Best British Band
- Kerrang! Best Live Act
- Metal Hammer 'Golden God' for Best Video ("Love Is Only a Feeling")
- Ivor Novello Award for Songwriters of the Year
- BRIT Award for Best British Group
- BRIT Award for Best Rock Act
- BRIT Award for Best British Album (Permission to Land)
- MTV Europe Music Award for Best UK & Ireland Act and Best Rock
- IFPI Platinum Europe Award for sales in Europe in excess of 1,000,000 (triple Platinum) (Permission to Land)
- Elle Style Award for Most Stylish Band
- Meteor Ireland Award for Best Album (Permission to Land)
- Smash Hits! Pollwinners' Party for Best Rock Award
- RIAA Digital Sales Certifications Gold Award for 100,000 downloads ("I Believe in a Thing Called Love")
- European Border Breakers Award for debut albums of European acts achieving the best sales outside of their country of origin in 2003 (Permission to Land)
- ASCAP Award for one of the Most Performed Works in the USA ("I Believe in a Thing Called Love")
- MTV Australia's Best Man Rock Video award ("One Way Ticket")
- Classic Rock Magazine Roll of Honour - Showman Award
- Classic Rock Magazine awarded "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" the number one spot on their Greatest Songs of the Century (so far) reader poll
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- [dead link]
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- "THE DARKNESS: New Song 'The Horn' Available For Streaming". 27 November 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
- "The Darkness". Facebook. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
- @thedarkness (7 October 2014). "Sadly, we're no longer working with Ed Graham. For various reasons, we have all decided to move on. We love Ed and we wish him happiness" (Tweet). Retrieved 2 June 2015 – via Twitter.
- "THE DARKNESS: New Single 'Open Fire' Available For Streaming". Blabbermouth.net. 23 March 2015. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
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- Osman, Richard (19 October 2017). "The Darkness absolutely smashing it in rehearsal for today's Pointless Celebrities Xmas Special. No-one here is going to let the bells end.pic.twitter.com/jwmOvvyJo0". @richardosman. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
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- "The Darkness release 'In Another Life' video ft. Abbey Clancy". The Darkness. 9 January 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
- "The Darkness release 'In Another Life' video ft. Abbey Clancy". The Darkness. 9 January 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
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- June 2020, Fraser Lewry22. "I Believe In A Thing Called Love by The Darkness voted greatest song of the 21st century". Classic Rock Magazine. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
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