While few philosophers would turn to the lyrics of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers for golden nuggets of wisdom, one of their lines is particularly appropriate in regards to The Darkness.
On the song Californication, Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis sings: “Destruction leads to a very rough road, but it also breeds creation.”
The Darkness’ singer and lead guitarist Justin Hawkins ventured down a rough road, but never lost his creativity.
He has now returned to the rock arena with renewed vigour, clarity and enthusiasm.
The Darkness exploded on to the music scene in 2003 with the release of their debut album Permission To Land.
The British hard rock band breathed fresh life into the glam genre, channelling the hedonism, flamboyance and camp humour of groups like Queen and T-Rex.
But after selling millions of albums and becoming one of the hottest tickets on the international touring circuit, in 2006 Hawkins walked away from the group.
The singer blamed both alcoholism and a cocaine addiction that reportedly totalled about £150,000 over three years.
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Out of the spotlight, Hawkins went to rehab and continued working on a number of musical endeavours.
He wrote songs for Meat Loaf and collaborated with Adam Lambert, Def Leppard and formed a new project called Hot Leg.
The other members of The Darkness, which includes his brother Dan on guitar, formed a new band called Stone Gods.
But in March 2011, the hiatus ended and The Darkness announced that their original line-up were back together and ready to pick up where they left off.
Hawkins explains that the reformation was effortless.
“From the first minute we sat down and ate together, it just felt like a family,” Hawkins says.
“We weren’t aware that that’s what we were in the first instance.
“We felt like, ‘Oh yeah – these are my brothers.’
“We realised how much we missed it, so it’s even more special.”
I read Hawkins a quote that he told a journalist after leaving The Darkness, conveying that he felt the cycle of writing, recording and touring was “monotonous”.
He is quick to interject.
“Well, I may as well stop you there... you have to discard anything I’ve ever said,” Hawkins laughs.
“Most of the time I’m just talking out of my asshole.
“I remember [saying] that – I felt bad about saying that nonsense.
“Because [recording and touring] is the very thing you miss as soon as you stop doing it.
“It’s the only semblance of a routine that you get when you’re a musician because every day is the same.
“Everybody has that [order] in their lives and you need it.
“When I’m not on tour I’m totally at a loss to know what to do with myself.”
An important part of Hawkins’ rehabilitation has been to leave the bustle of London and return to the more peaceful rural setting of his home town in Suffolk.
The songwriter feels his relocation has also had a positive influence on The Darkness’ new music.
“I spent 12 years living in London, but I went back to my home town [Lowestoft, Suffolk] and I’ve been living there for the past few years and I think that comes across on the new album,” Hawkins explains.
“The first album [Permission To Land] was a small town record.
“The second album [One Way Ticket To Hell... And Back] is a big city record.
“Now we’re doing small town songs again and I think they’re a bit more fun, really.
“If you treat your little town as a sort of micro-version of the world then it’s a lot easier to have real things to hook ideas on.
“We used to be fond of referencing local places and it’s just because it’s real.
“You shouldn’t forget where you come from, is my motto.
“That’s why I live there again and have [the town’s name] tattooed on my stomach, so you never forget.”
Hawkins takes breaks from songwriting, but says that it’s never too long before he feels the itch again.
“I take big breaks from songwriting and then you hear something and you think, ‘F—-, I wish I’d written that,’” Hawkins says.
“I think that if I had been writing then I may have done.
“I kind of believe that songs are in the air and you grab them.
“You have to be there with your net to catch them, you have to have a guitar in your hand and you have to be looking for it.
“Because that’s what we do.
“Me and my brother [Dan Hawkins, guitarist] work and work and work until something comes.
“If you don’t sit there and do it, then nothing comes.
“It is quite an intensive process and we take these breaks from it.
“But you know the time is right because you hear [music] and you really wish that you were doing it.
“It’s a natural cycle.”
Hawkins feels that the band’s upcoming third album is strong but they had not tried to reinvent themselves.
His sense of humour is there, he still pens love songs and is happy to include small town folklore again.
In fact the biggest difference in this new era of The Darkness is Hawkins’ appearance - he now has even more tattoos and dons a dapper moustache.
The singer’s new look has outdated his wax statue in London’s Madame Tussaud’s.
“They did a waxwork of me about eight years ago now,” Hawkins says.
“I think we might need to glue a moustache to it.”
When its mentioned that the statue will also need some new body paint, he puts forth a solution.
“We’ll just put a jumper on it and a balaclava,” Hawkins offers, and then reveals that for the band’s fourth record he would like to add sideburns to his image.
So a hairier and more colourful Hawkins will travel to Australia in May for The Darkness’ upcoming tour.
When they ventured to Australia it didn’t take long for the size of their venues to catch up with their stadium-sized sound.
The four-piece – which also includes bassist Frankie Poullain and drummer Ed Graham – first visited our shores in January 2004 and played small rooms like Sydney’s The Gaelic Club and nabbed a spot on the Big Day Out tour.
When they returned they were headlining Sydney’s Big Top.
On their comeback tour the band will play in the Hunter Valley for the first time.
Hawkins doesn’t mind the long flight from England to Australia, but says the return journey is less pleasant.
“It’s actually not too bad going there [to Australia] but coming back kills you,” Hawkins says.
“Both the actual time difference and the way it affects your body, and spiritually leaving Australia is a difficult thing to do.”
Part of Hawkins’ desire to get The Darkness back together was the opportunity to perform their catalogue of rock anthems again.
“That was one of the reasons why we wanted to [reform] - playing those songs for people,” Hawkins says.
“For me, a particular favourite is Growing On Me.
“When we play that one and you hear people singing it back, it’s a great feeling.
“The way the first verse is, it’s really sparse - it’s just drums and voice when the riff cuts out.
“When you hear the crowd singing it back to you, you think, ‘F—- yes. Awesome.’
“You feel like a million dollars.
“It’s a proper moment.
“That [song] always used to be early on in the set and as soon as we started rehearsing [after the reformation], I couldn’t wait to play that song [live].
“It didn’t disappoint me.
“It’s always a big thrill - I love that song.
“I’ve never stopped loving the songs.”
# The Darkness perform at Newcastle Panthers on Saturday, May 5 with tickets selling quickly through Moshtix.com.au.
Their third album will be released in June.
The Mercury has two double passes to giveaway to their Newcastle show. For your chance to win fill out the coupon in today's Mercury and return it to the Mercury’s office by noon next Wednesday.