The Darkness are a British 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 Rufus Taylor (drums).
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. 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 theIsle of Wight Festival 2012. Their third album, Hot Cakes, was released on 20 August 2012. Ed Graham has since left the band, feeling the strain of touring was impacting 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 June 2, 2015.
The Darkness were directed by manager Sue Whitehouse, who had managed them since Justin Hawkins’ time 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.
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.
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.
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.
By December 2010, both Hot Leg and The Stone Gods were in hiatus.
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.
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 June 2, 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.
Permission to Land (2003)
One Way Ticket to Hell… and Back (2005)
Hot Cakes (2012)
Last of Our Kind (2015)