Ed Graham from UK rockers The Darkness tells Noise11 that they’re back, sober, and surprisingly not getting piss thrown at them.
British glam rock prancers The Darkness broke through in 2003 with squealing vocals, strutting guitars, and tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Now, after a five year hiatus, the original band have reunited to deliver the high-pitched wailing and guitar-flailing once more.
We spoke to drummer Ed Graham on the phone from London about their comeback.
He chuckles about their warm-up gigs late last year, before their triumphant return at Download Festival. “We just played really, really fast,” he laughs, “You could see the tension there but the excitement as well.”
The band worried that the Download crowd would be too young to remember them, “We actually thought we were going to get bottles of piss thrown at us,” Graham says, but thousands smiled and sang every word.
So they’re back in good form, despite Graham’s painful-sounding cough on the other end of the line. Thing is, they no longer drink on tour, since singer Justin Hawkins recovered from drug and alcohol issues.
“In the past, we were basically hammered every night,” Graham admits and laughs ruefully, “We were quite bad, actually. These days we’re more likely to go to the gym. It’s a very different experience.”
But can it still be rock n’ roll if they’re not necking bottles of bourbon on stage? Graham says yes, in that it’s always about performing well, and being hammered doesn’t necessarily facilitate that. They’ve had the same soundman for their entire career, and Graham says, “he’s saying we’re playing better now than we ever did. Thing about being sober is that you notice when you make mistakes.”
It’s not just a return to the stage for The Darkness – they’re back in the studio as well. In new press shots they seem to be going for a more ‘70s classic rock look than their previous glam rock vibe, and new song ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us’ bears that out to a degree musically. What will they sound like now?
Graham ruminates over their “very produced” 2005 second album One Way Ticket To Hell And Back. “I think we’re hoping that this third album is a return to form and a bit more like [debut] Permission To Land,” he muses. “I don’t think anything is going to sound as sparse as Permission To Land because we literally went in and knocked it out in two weeks. We spent a bit more time on this one, but it’s definitely more like the first one than the second one.”
The most recent song the band wrote was ‘She’s Just A Girl, Eddie’ about Ed and his ex-girlfriend splitting up, which he laughs, “was quite touching, but also embarrassing.”
Equally embarrassing was the way he celebrated his recent birthday. While on tour, he treated himself to a lobster dinner and says “it gave me really bad food-poisoning. For the last four shows of the tour I was really not well. I had tonnes of issues. It’s not ideal when your sitting down playing drums, as you could imagine.”
They’ve conquered booze, but can’t fight seafood.
The Darkness will be back in Australia this May for a full tour. Tickets are on sale now from MoshTix for Newcastle, OzTix for Brisbane, Ticketmaster for Melbourne, and Ticketek for Canberra and Sydney.
The Darkness Australian Tour 2012
Friday 4 May – Eaton’s Hill Hotel, Brisbane
Saturday 5 May – Newcastle Panthers, Newcastle
Sunday 6 May – UNSW Roundhouse, Sydney
Tuesday 8 May – The Palace, Melbourne
Thursday 10 May – ANU Bar, Canberra