‘If it's not tough, there are no blues.’ Justin Hawkins (below) and the boys take

their muslc seriously...

being born and bred in Milnathort just outside Kinross with a French mother and classical musician father. In fact. he's even step—brother to our very own resident columnist and free thinking insanity generator Phil Kay. ‘Gradually. through the course of the gig you start to see the smiles coming out and then you start to see people clapping their hands. then their eyes bulging out. then people shouting out. then basically losing themselves and really getting into the euphoria of rock. It‘s not rocket science it‘s rock'n‘roll.‘

But it‘s been a long hard slog to where they are now. Poullain. brothers Dan (guitar) and Justin Hawkins and drummer lid Graham were plodding along gigging down south in various bands. most notably Iimpire. a prog rock outfit. It wasn't until the final. vital (and controversial) element was added that they finally. quite literally. found their

voice in the most magnificent of ways: via the power of

karaoke. Justin took to the mic to perform Queen’s classic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody" at a family party on Millennium live. They knew this was were they had been going wrong. and dropped Iimpire‘s (unnamed) vocalist and Justin moved from behind his synthesisers to centre stage. They sent out an email to the most reliable bass man they knew. Poullain. who was at the time residing in Venezuela. and the Darkness were born. So what did Poullain think on first hearing Justin's unique vocal gymnastics on his return to the UK'.’ ‘All I can say is l was amazed and I laughed. it was so outrageous. I thought “this is gold dust“. not in financial terms. but musically gold dust.‘ While Justin's love of skin tight lycra isn't something Poullain will be following in the near future (‘I haven‘t got the body for it. I have a very awkward body and need to wear

quite structured. formal clothes‘). He does sport one of the of

the most impressive rock ‘taches of recent years. ‘I think it helps because bass players have to be stoic. solid and noble and that is exactly the qualities a good moustache has.‘ It‘s this inborn appreciation of what rock stands for that is most

impressive the attention to detail.

Their image as the Darkness has always been so defined. it was almost a millstone around their necks. They were packing out London pubs playing like it was Wembley' Stadium every night they graced the stage. People were confused: they loved the show. but A&R men just couldn’t agree on whether it was actually marketable or not. ‘I think we did things properly. I think bands should go thorough an apprenticeship. because if it‘s not tough there are no blues.‘ says Poullain. almost with pride. but also out of respect for the years of hard work they have put in. ‘It should be difficult. It shouldn’t be easy. it shouldn‘t just be about putting on the right I—sltit'l and the right jeans. It shouldn't be about conformity. it sltollltl be about being exotic. Mick Jagger and Iilvis Presley were exotic characters and when people first saw them they were like “what the fuck is this?" These weird looking guys acting like monkeys. It was weird and it surprised people and that’s the impression Justin has on people too. They're not sure if they like him or not and it forces them to question themselves. which is great.‘

It is whether they are ‘for real‘ that the record-buying public need to decide. Is it comedy. a knowing tongue placed



firmly in the cheek'.’ Are they ironically mocking the elder

statesmen of rock'.’ ‘Brian May [Queen]. I)ave (iroltl [Nirvana/Foo Fighters]. Lars Ulrich lMetallical. Joe lilliot

[Def Leppard]. all these guys wouldn't be giving us respect if

we were taking the piss out of what they were doing. I assure you.‘ As Poullain so rightly points out: ‘Who else could support Robbie Williams and Metallica‘.’ ('an you think of any





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22 THE LIST 16-30 Oct 2003