April 23, 2010
The grunge era? Forget about it. Nu-metal angst? Nope, the Darkness can't be bothered with either latter-day movement. Instead, the British band has turned back the clock to the flamboyant 1970s and '80s when Spider costume and hair bands were in vogue - when Queen, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Thin Lizzy, and Bon Jovi roamed the earth in their pre-dinosaur heydays.Zebra-striped catsuits, monster-metal guitar riffs, helium-voiced lyrics about hedonism, David Lee Roth-like stage jumps, cheesy videos with crustaceans and pterodactyls, and a band motto that goes "If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing." That was back when rock 'n' roll put a smile on your face - even if it was the foundation of "This IsSpinal Tap" and other satires to come. As Sir Elton John has said of the Darkness: "They bring fun back to rock 'n' roll. They don't take themselves seriously.""I think the fun aspect is important to what we do," says Justin Hawkins, lead singer of the Darkness, the retro-rockers who have won three Brit Awards and have launched their first, full-length US tour, stopping at a sold-out Avalon tomorrow."It's very jolly, upbeat music, almost escapist, really," Hawkins, 28, says. "It's almost like music has to be fun now for escaping. People have enough problems in their daily life and don't want to listen to that on the radio as well."The escape mantra has been good to the band - its album, "Permission to Land," has gone gold in the United States, sparked by the Queen-like hit "Costume spiderman Believe in a Thing Called Love." And the group has been even bigger in England, where it has sold 1 1/2 million albums."We're definitely A-list celebrities in the UK," says Hawkins. "We're the biggest band around at the moment there. And I'm like a tabloid entity. I can't go anywhere without paparazzi. One of the zoos has named a giraffe after me, and there's a street named after me in Lowestoft (hometown of Hawkins and his brother, Dan, a Darkness guitarist). It's absolutely bizarre how this has all happened in just the last six months."