Darkness guitarist Dan Hawkins on reforming the band, a Southern Rail diss track and buying a bike
PUBLISHED: 12:26 15 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:26 15 January 2018
Balcombe-based Darkness guitarist Dan Hawkins talks sibling squabbles and Southern strikes
Southern Rail commuters probably had a few sweary verses running through their heads as their trains were delayed in 2016.
But few recorded and released them as The Darkness have with September’s Southern Trains. The song was inspired after their commute into a London studio from Three Bridges was delayed by three hours four times in a week.
“My brother [vocalist Justin] lives in Switzerland so he was staying at my house,” says Dan Hawkins, Balcombe-based guitarist with the band. “On that fourth time of being three hours late we went into the studio really angry. I was playing the riff and Justin started shouting about trains. We thought it was cathartic – we didn’t think it would make the album, let alone be a single. I genuinely feel sorry for the people who had no choice but to commute at that time.”
Originally hailing from around Lowestoft, close to the Norfolk/Suffolk border, the multi-platinum selling band has frequently penned songs about their local area – from their first album’s Black Shuck, about Norfolk’s legendary hellhound, to a new song about the Saxon boat discovered by archaeologists at Suffolk’s Sutton Hoo. Southern Trains is the first time Sussex has made an appearance. “It’s only been three years after moving to Balcombe that I’ve started to explore the area,” admits Dan blaming his constant touring schedule. “I’ve just bought a bike – I didn’t realise how close Ardingly Reservoir is to where I live!”
In December 2017 The Darkness returned to Brighton Dome in support of fifth album Pinewood Smile. This is the band’s third album since reforming in 2011 – after a messy 2006 break-up which ended with Justin in rehab. It was Dan who initiated a reconciliation.
“I always give advice to brothers who fall out that it is inevitable,” he says. “You will get over it so why waste time? I didn’t realise that at the time, but my brother did – he always seems to be one step ahead of me. We had spent so many years being there for each other, it didn’t matter what had gone on.”
Dan was in London with a couple of hours to kill when he decided to call his brother. “I went over and that was it,” he says. “We just did what we always used to do – play computer games and muck around on guitars.”
This new album is the first to feature new drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor, who comes from impressive stock. “His dad is [Queen drummer] Roger Taylor,” says Dan. “He was born a rock star – he had no choice in the matter.” He made his live debut straight from stepping off a flight from Australia. “We met him in a rehearsal room and spent an hour and a half going through five or six songs,” says Dan. “We went to play an album launch gig and he played them perfectly. He’s got the confidence to do that, but he’s also the nicest, most down-to-earth guy.”
Rufus’s first writing credit came on The Darkness’s follow-up to number two hit Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End). I Am Santa was a late addition to the deluxe edition of The Darkness’s fourth album Last of our Kind. “It might be nice to do a Christmas album,” says Dan who takes the credit for insisting on another seasonal song. “Perhaps we could do a Christmas song every year and after ten years you’ve got an album.” His love of Christmas may be down to the season’s “sparkly stuff”.
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