The Darkness In-depth Biography
England's the Darkness} centers around irrepressible frontman Justin Hawkins} (vocals/guitars/keyboards), who, along with his guitar-playing baby brother Dan}, bassist Frankie Poullain}, and drummer Ed Graham}, single-handedly resurrected the rather unfashionable sounds and attitudes of late-'70s hard rock} for an unsuspecting generation. Following the demise of an earlier, conspicuously synth pop}-based outfit named Empire}, the Hawkins} brothers sowed the seeds of what would become the Darkness} at an impromptu karaoke} session on New Year's Eve 1999. Justin}'s rapturous rendition of Queen}'s "Bohemian Rhapsody"} showed them the way, and the suitably dramatic name of the Darkness} was chosen shortly after the arrival of Poullain} and Graham}.
With outrageous stage antics that included gaudy leotards stolen from Steven Tyler}'s wardrobe, leaps and splits borrowed from David Lee Roth}, and an ear-piercing falsetto copped from Freddie Mercury} himself, the multi-talented elder Hawkins} led the quartet as the group spent the next two years slogging it out in London's pub circuit. Though they were immediately singled out as a joke by the notoriously vicious British press, the Darkness}' high-energy sets, remarkably catchy material, and unapologetic worship of old-school rock & roll} bombast gradually earned them a fanatical following based on simple word of mouth.
The tide finally began to shift in their favor in August 2002, when the Darkness} released their debut EP, I Believe in a Thing Called Love}, through independent Must Destroy Music}; won a major talent contest; and also scored all-important opening slots with Deep Purple} and Def Leppard}. Their momentum carried through into the new year, starting with a knockout performance at Austin's SXSW} music convention in January, continuing with the release of their "Keep Your Hands Off My Woman"} single in February (peaking at number 36 in the U.K. chart), and climaxing in their subsequent signing of a major-label contract with Atlantic Records} in March.
Nothing could stop the Darkness}' snowball effect now, and a series of acclaimed festival appearances set the stage for their debut album, Permission to Land}, to debut atop the British charts -- the first time a new act had achieved such a feat since Coldplay} three years earlier. Aside from the 2003 Christmas} single Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End)}, the Darkness} concentrated on touring until 2005, when they returned to the studio with Cars} and Foreigner} producerRoy Thomas Baker}. During the recording of its second album, the band parted ways with Poullain}, replacing him with new bassist Richie Edwards}. One Way Ticket to Hell...and Back} was released late in 2005. ~ Ed Rivadavia, All Music Guide