The Darkness are a British glam rock band from Lowestoft, Suffolk, formed in 2000. The band consists of Justin Hawkins (lead vocals, guitar), his brother Dan Hawkins (guitar, backing vocals), Frankie Poullain (bass, backing vocals) and Ed Graham (drums) and are characterised by their classic rock influences and elaborate stage performances.
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 1,300,000.
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 problems. 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 March 15, 2011, The Darkness announced reunion shows, with original bassist Frankie Poullain, including Download Festival 2011, and the Isle of Wight Festival 2012, and stated that they were currently working on their third studio album.
The Darkness were directed by manager Sue Whitehouse who managed them since Justin Hawkins' origins as a creator of music jingles and their original band days as Empire. The Darkness were 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.
The band already had music industry interest from their days as Empire through connections with Sue Whitehouse who was based at Savage & Best in Camden. 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." 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 Darkness took inspiration for some of their work from the local north Suffolk area, including "Black Shuck" which mentions the nearby village of Blythburgh.
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 No.2 in 2003. The band themselves seemed to show signs that they were disillusioned with their constant media appearances, infamously walking off of an episode of the U.S.-nationally-syndicated radio talk show Loveline, on 19 April 2004. Ultimately, the band responded to the criticism of over-saturation by touring the UK's top arenas on their Winter-National Tour. One part of the show included Justin climbing upon a life-sized tiger during "Love on the Rocks with No Ice" and being elevated above the audience whilst playing guitar. The majority of the shows on the tour had sold out.
One Way Ticket to Hell... And Back and decline (2005-2006):
On 23 May 2005 bassist Frankie Poullain left the band via a window during recording of their second album, One Way Ticket to Hell... and Back, apparently due to "musical differences". Frankie has disputed this version of events, claiming he was "frozen out" and forced to leave the band. On 13 June 2005, The Darkness announced that Richie Edwards, formerly Dan's guitar technician, had replaced Frankie as bassist.
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 (2006):
See also: British Whale and Hot Leg
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. However on 10 October 2006, The Sun newspaper reported that Justin Hawkins was leaving the band after completing his course of rehabilitation from alcohol and cocaine problems. The article, and ensuing rumours, stated that 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 following message was posted on The Darkness' 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.
Other projects (2006-2011):
See also: Stone Gods and Hot Leg
On 24 December 2006, it was reported by Yahoo! News that bass player Richie Edwards would become the group's new frontman, with Toby MacFarlaine to join The Darkness and take over on bass. In blog entries on MySpace, Richie Edwards, Dan Hawkins and Ed Graham said that they had started recording a new album with Toby McFarlaine, and that they had formed a new band together.
On 2 March 2007, The Darkness' official website was changed, showing a photograph of the new, and as yet unnamed band. Links to the members individual Myspace pages were included, confirming the line-up of Richie Edwards, Dan Hawkins, Toby MacFarlaine and Ed Graham. Richie later added a message to the site, categorically confirming that the band would not continue under the name "The Darkness", saying "we are literally days away from announcing our new name".
It was announced on 25 August 2007 that the band had finished recording an album but no release dates or names, of either the band or album, had been decided. Record label and support has yet to be decided.
On 9 November 2007, it was announced on The University of East Anglia's student union website that the new band would be called Stone Gods. This name was confirmed on the official website on 21 November 2007. The line-up was confirmed as Dan Hawkins (lead guitar), Toby MacFarlaine (bass), Ed Graham (drums) and Ritchie Edwards (vocals/guitar).
During a Hot Leg gig at Brighton's Ocean Rooms in May 2009, Justin was joined on stage by Dan, playing "I Believe In A Thing Called Love". During the performance Dan whispered to Justin a humorous "you're an absolute cunt". Justin mentioned this to the crowd after the song, stating "I think he meant it!"
As of December 2010, both Hot Leg and The Stone Gods had announced they are on hiatus via Twitter and rumours had once again surfaced that The Darkness may reform. Dan Hawkins had supposedly confirmed these rumours.
Wikinews has related news: English hard rock band The Darkness reunites
On 15 March 2011, it was officially announced that The Darkness would reunite with all of the original members. The band also said that they planned to play at the 2011 Download Festival in June, as well as record a new album during April and May. Speaking about the announcement, Justin Hawkins said that "the main thing for us is to make sure that musically we turn the experience into something positive again. We've been remembering why it was so much fun in the first place, just four men making loud music in a room." Prior to playing Download 2011, the band announced three small warm up shows in Norwich, Leamington and at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire, with support from Max Raptor. Throughout 2011, the band have played a selection of new songs with titles such as "Cannonball", "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us" and "Out of this World" to name a few, along with songs from both Permission to Land and One Way Ticket. On 10 June 2011, the band announced a winter UK/Ireland tour consisting of 17 dates from 8 November to 5 December. The band head on on a Japanese tour in October 2011 which was preceeded by a warm up show at London's legendary 100 club on 10th October. The band kick started their winter tour on November 8th at Liverpools Mountford Hall. Hawkins announced that The Darkness would release a new album "in early 2012" at their show at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on 20th November. When the band performed at the HMV Hammersmith Apollo (formerly called the Hammersmith Odeon) on 25 November 2011, they were joined onstage by Brian May of Queen.
In a late January 2012 interview, Justin Hawkins said that that band had almost completed recording their third album, with nine songs "done or finished, all sounding shiny and good." On 1 February 2012, the band released a new song, entitled "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us", as a free download. They went on a North American tour in early 2012 with Crown Jewel Defense and Foxy Shazam. They are slated to perform at the Sweden Rock Festival in Sölvesborg, Sweden, which runs June 6-9, 2012.