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LAST OF OUR KIND: Dan Hawkins On The Triumphant Return of The Darkness!

LAST OF OUR KIND: Dan Hawkins On The Triumphant Return of The Darkness!

the-darkness-2015-4

The Summer of 2015 sees the return of a an undeniable force in rock as multi-award winning band THE DARKNESS triumphantly return with their most powerful album to date — ‘Last of Our Kind.’ 

‘Last of Our Kind’ is the meaty and impassioned follow-up to 2012’s ‘Hot Cakes,’ which saw the band reunited having enjoyed a well-publicized and well-deserved hiatus. As distinguished guests of Def Leppard, The Darkness destroyed Download Festival in 2011, then waved goodbye to their loved ones and toured planet Earth for over 18 months. They rounded off 2013 with a celebratory tour marking the 10th Anniversary of their legendary Number One debut album, ‘Permission to Land,’ which featured the classics “I Believe In a Thing Called Love” and “Get Your Hands Off My Woman.” It was the fastest-selling debut album by a British band in America since The Spice Girls.

‘Last of Our Kind’ is the fourth studio album by The Darkness and was produced by guitarist Dan Hawkins. Penned in Ireland and is bursting with the very finest rock-based music available to mankind, as one might expect. Additionally, ‘Last of Our Kind’ is the first album by the iconic band to feature new drummer Emily Dolan Davies. She replaces original drummer Ed Graham who departed under mysterious circumstances. Having been drumming since 1999, Emily has played with everybody from the likes of Bono, Bryan Ferry and Tricky. Now she has shown herself to be equal to the ultimate music challenge. A legend in her own right, Davies brings an undeniable new spark to this already amazing rock and roll outfit. 

The band recently unveiled the animated video for lead single ‘Barbarian’, a typically hefty piece of riffmongery that only The Darkness could bring to life in such a unique way. Frontman Justin Hawkins describes the song as having “not one but two dramatic monologues, a guitar solo that has been declared ‘irresponsible,’ a riff that weakens lady-knees and a chorus that makes grown men shit directly into their pants. The lyrics describe the Viking invasion of East Anglia which culminated in the decapitation of Edmund the Martyr. So yeah, classic Darkness.”

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with guitarist/producer Dan Hawkins to discuss the band’s longevity, the inspiration for and creation of ‘Last of Our Kind’ and what the legendary band might have in store for us in the years to come! 

Dan Hawkins of The Darkness

Dan Hawkins of The Darkness

It is a treat to talk with you today, Dan. I have been a fan of The Darkness for quite some time.

Great stuff! A long suffering fan!

Going back to your early years, what are some of your earliest memories of music?

Oh, blimey! My parents were quite into their rock ‘n’ roll. They used to party quite a lot. It was the ‘70s, so it was definitely acceptable to have lots of people around, drink lots, smoke lots and play the music really loudly with the kids upstairs! My earliest memories of music are trying to get to sleep but not being able to because of the sound of rock ‘n’ roll downstairs!

What performers had the biggest impact on you early on?

Much like a lot of people, my main influences were the music my parents were listening to. My dad was a big Queen fan. He was also into Neil Young, Deep Purple and David Bowie. He loved artists like those and was a bit of a Pink Floyd fan. The type of music you like is very much defined by the type of drugs you take, isn’t it! [laughs] My parents were more drinkers than smokers, so less Pink Floyd and more Blondie, Rolling Stones and so on and so forth! [laughs]

They say the music business isn’t for those faint of heart. What made you pursue music as a career?

Dan Hawkins of The Darkness

Dan Hawkins of The Darkness

That is an interesting one. Primarily, you don’t think of it as a career when you are young. My brother and I picked things up from when we were very young. I was playing and a competent drummer by the age of 8 and learned to play guitar a bit, and certainly bass, by the age of 12. At that time, I was playing in pubs on bass. I only ended up being a guitarist by default really. I also thought I would be a drummer or a bass player. I wanted to sit in the back and not really have to do much! [laughs] Unfortunately, things didn’t really work out that way! I happened to be in a band where the guitarists were pretty dire. We were in the studio for our first proper session with this name producer, Rick Nowels. The guitarist was taking so long to get this one really simple guitar part and it was ruining the whole session. The producer called time and said, “Everyone go to a break.” I stuck back and started to chat with him. He said, “Do you think you could do this guitar part?” I said, “Yeah, I can do it in no time.” I put it down in one take. The singer came back and heard it and fired the guitarist straight away! [laughs] I started playing guitar and that is where I have been ever since! I never really thought it would happen that way. If anything, I thought I might be a studio engineer or someone else behind the screen, if you know what I mean.

The Darkness has had their fair share of highs and lows over the years. Is there any secret to the longevity of the band?

Blimey, yeah. We have had our tough times, yeah. It’s like a marriage isn’t it? There are ups and downs but you just have to keep sticking to it. People always ask me advice for up and coming bands, the only thing you can really advise them to do is never give up and not change what you are doing because it is not particularly trendy at that point in time. There are so many great musicians that haven’t really gotten anywhere because one minute country-rock is the big thing and the next alternative-grunge is the next big thing and they keep changing what they do to suit what they think people might like. At some point in life, you basically have to put your flag in the ground and say, “This is what I do. It is who I am.” The sooner you do that, the better. I think that is what has kept us going all this time.

The Darkness will soon release “Last of Our Kind.” What goals or expectations did you have for the album going into the process?

The Darkness - 'Last of Our Kind'

The Darkness – ‘Last of Our Kind’

The main thing was I got to be a bit more in control of what happens on this record. I got to engineer it, produce it and mix it. We were finally able to have one vision, so it wasn’t watered down at all. We were able to actually see through what we wanted to do in the first place. I guess the main thing was a realization after the last record. which was it doesn’t matter how good the people working on the record are it is going to get watered down if you use different people to do the different elements of the album. One of the main objectives was that we shouldn’t think of ourselves as songwriters anymore. [laughs] It sounds stupid but at some point someone handed us the Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of The Year and, at that point, we thought we must be great songwriters, whereas, we are primarily riff writers. That is what we should be anyway and that is what I tried to put right on this album. I tried to get back to the way we did the first record, which was to find an unbeatable riff and then try to turn that into a song, rather than writing a song and trying to add a riff to it. Most of the backing tracks on this album can be played instrumentally and will still sound really tidy. That is what we really wanted to go for!

The Darkness always had a sort of medieval vibe through the music and the same is true of this new album. What took you guys down that road early on?

Yeah, we have always had an element of that, especially on the first record. Songs like “Black Shuck,” where it is basically storytelling about East Indian folklore, or “Curse of the Tollund Man,” which was one of the B-Sides from that campaign, have always been there. I think Justin [Hawkins] just has a keen interest in history and he just got his teeth into a couple of ideas really. For whatever reason, I think it really suits our sound. There was no real theme and I can’t even remember why we started it or went down that route! [laughs]

It seems to be working for you! [laughs]

Thanks! Yeah! [laughs]

What can you tell us about the typical writing process for the band at this point in time?

I suppose it is always changing really. As I said, I think it is more a case of having a bunch of riffs or a backing track that really kicks ass before Justin will attempt to write anything over top of it vocally. We were really, really harsh on ourselves on “Last of Our Kind.” Anything less than really, really brilliant wasn’t going to cut it. We actually started writing for this record a long time ago on the tour with Lady Gaga, which was a long time ago. We had a lot of stock to choose from. I would say we had 30 to 40 songs this time. We wanted to write in inspirational surroundings as well. We wanted to be inspired instead of just writing to do something because it was time to do it. We wanted to do something because we were inspired to do so. We started off the writing sessions in Ibiza and then we moved to Glenshire Island, which is just off the west coast of Ireland. It is a very remote, and I would say medieval, island. I think that is where we drew a lot of inspiration for songs like “Roaring Waters” and “Barbarian.”

The Darkness strike a pose.

The Darkness strike a pose.

You have some new blood in the band these days with drummer Emily Dolan Davies. What are your recollections of meeting her and what does she bring to The Darkness?

It is a real shot in the arm for us. So far, the people who have seen Emily play live have been completely blown away, just as we have. It is really great that someone is flying the flag for female drummers in hard rock. It is unheard of really. She is great! When we first got together to play, it was in my bedroom. [laughs] Basically, I set up the whole band in my bedroom and made some sort of makeshift soundproofing on the walls. I have to say, I didn’t do it particularly well! [laughs] We fired up and we were playing as the rooms shuddered and everything was falling down around us! She must have thought we were a complete bunch of fucking idiots for the most unprofessional audition she had ever seen! [laughs] I knew straight away that she was a perfect fit! I really wanted to make a record without click tracks, without a metronome guiding the drummer and keeping the drummer in time. I didn’t want any mucking around on Pro Tools or anything like that. I wanted it to be whole takes. Apart from one song, which is cut between two takes, every song on this record she has done in one take! It was literally myself, her and Frank playing together and that is it. I think you can really hear it on the album. I know we are all very happy with her.

As a producer, what is the biggest challenge of making this new album as both an artist and a producer?

Dan Hawkins

Dan Hawkins

Weirdly, the thing I find the hardest as a producer when I am producing my own band is that I find it so hard to not really pay attention to my guitars as much as I do everyone else’s parts. By that, I mean I will go to the nth degree to get the drum sound I want! Fucking tedious! I can’t settle for anything less than a brilliant drum sound and then I get to the point where I am overdubbing my guitar and tracking them down and I have to try not to rush. I think because I have been a producer/engineer all of that time, I find it to be an inconvenience recording guitars! [laughs] I would much prefer someone else do them! I had a really good assistant on this record, who is also a guitarist, so I spent a bit more time than I normally would on my guitar. I think this album came out being one of the best sounding albums I have been involved with.

You have seen a lot of changes in the music industry over the past decade plus. What is the biggest obstacle you face today as a member of a band like The Darkness?

I guess the biggest obstacle is being able to fund the art. That is the bottom line. Essentially, I think we have reached a broader audience through the videos and that kind of output that we have had. Making videos, for instance, like “I Believe In A Thing Called Love,” cost a lot of money. To get to that level of production is quite a production. These days, the money is just not there and people aren’t buying the records for $13.99 in the millions. They are buying the song they like that they heard on the album or they have already downloaded it for free. Ultimately, there is just less money in the industry, which means you have to work harder to make things happen. There is less freedom in a way. Some musicians would argue that is not the case and, because it is a level playing field, people have to use their brains a bit more. I just think if the budget wasn’t there, some of my favorite films would never have been made and this is the case with albums and videos these days. Do you know what I mean? Record companies used to invest a lot of money into making albums, putting out videos and developing bands but the money just isn’t there anymore, so we aren’t getting the chance to do the more outrageous things that we could once do.

The Darkness - A tremendous force in rock and roll!

The Darkness – A tremendous force in rock and roll!

Looking back on your career so far, how have you most evolved as an artist and where might you see yourself headed in the future?

I often think about that. You look at the Rolling Stones and you think, “They are showing no signs of stopping in their 80s!” Look at AC/DC and the fucking bullshit they have had to deal with over the past year and they are still going on tour! [laughs] We’re not fucking stopping! [laughs] I’ve got the feeling that is really how we see ourselves now. I certainly do! It’s hard work being away from your family but ultimately it is the best job in the world, so why the hell would we want to stop doing it? I love producing bands and I will continue to produce The Darkness as long as The Darkness wants me to produce them. If I have time to produce anyone else, I will certainly do that but my priority is being the guitarist in The Darkness, rather than the producer. I would definitely consider working with another producer, perhaps even on the next record. Who knows? I am always open to learning from people and seeing what else others can bring. I do seriously think that we can possibly regenerate some sort of glam rock revival in a way! [laughs] I still think the hard rock riff in a tuneful way is something that will never die. If anything I think it will have a resurgence in popular music. Who knows, maybe we will be the ones to do it again! We will be there trying, that’s for sure!

Absolutely! Thanks for your time today, Dan! “Last of Our Kind” is definitely a record to be proud of and we look forward to spreading the word!

Brilliant! Thank you so much, Jason!

CONNECT WITH THE DARKNESS:
www.thedarkness.co.uk
www.facebook.com/thedarknessofficial
https://twitter.com/TheDarkness

The Darkness is Justin Hawkins (vocals/lead guitar), Dan Hawkins (guitars/backing vocals), Frankie Poullain (bass/backing vocals) and Emily Dolan Davies (drums/backing vocals). ‘Last of Our Kind’ – due out June 1st through partnership with Kobalt Label Services.

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The Darkness To Unleash ‘Last of Our Kind’ On June 1st

The Darkness To Unleash ‘Last of Our Kind’ On June 1st

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Summer 2015 sees the return of multi-award winning band THE DARKNESS, with their fourth album Last of Our Kind – due out June 1st through partnership with Kobalt Label Services.  The album produced by guitarist Dan Hawkins, boasts new track, “Barbarian,” currently manfully straddling the information super highway and is a palate cleanser for Last of Our Kind.  Penned in Ireland, where the band play a small but perfectly formed tour in March, the record is bursting with the very finest rock-based music available to mankind, as one might expect.

'Last of Our Kind'

‘Last of Our Kind’

Last of Our Kind is the first album to feature new drummer Emily Dolan Davies.  She replaces original drummer Ed Graham who departed under mysterious circumstances.  Having been drumming since 1999, Emily has played with everybody from the likes of Bono, Bryan Ferry and Tricky. Now she has shown herself to be equal to the ultimate music challenge.

Emily’s ability is face-shatteringly evident in “Barbarian.”  Frontman Justin Hawkins describes the song as having “not one but two dramatic monologues, a guitar solo that has been declared ‘irresponsible,’ a riff that weakens lady-knees and a chorus that makes grown men shit directly into their pants. The lyrics describe the Viking invasion of East Anglia which culminated in the decapitation of Edmund the Martyr. So yeah, classic Darkness.”

Last of Our Kind is the meaty and impassioned follow-up to 2012’s Hot Cakes, which saw the band reunited having enjoyed a well-publicized and well-deserved hiatus. As distinguished guests of Def Leppard, The Darkness destroyed Download Festival in 2011, then waved goodbye to their loved ones and toured planet Earth for over 18 months.  They rounded off 2013 with a celebratory tour marking the 10th Anniversary of their legendary Number One debut album, Permission to Land, which featured the classics “I Believe In a Thing Called Love” and “Get Your Hands Off My Woman.” It was the fastest-selling debut album by a British band in America since The Spice Girls.

Last of Our Kind will be released on limited edition color vinyl, CD and download. The Darkness will be announcing more touring plans for later this year very, very soon.

Track listing:  Barbarian * Open Fire * Last of Our Kind * Roaring Waters * Wheels of the Machine *Mighty Wings * Mudslide * Sarah O’Sarah * Hammer & Tongs * Conquerors

THE DARKNESS is:  JUSTIN HAWKINS (vocals/lead guitar), DAN HAWKINS (guitars/backing vocals), FRANKIE POULLAIN (bass/backing vocals) and EMILY DOLAN DAVIES (drums/backing vocals).

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Kate Pierson To Unleash ‘Guitars and Microphones’ Solo Album On February 17th

Kate Pierson To Unleash ‘Guitars and Microphones’ Solo Album On February 17th

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Kate Pierson – iconic voice and founding member of the B52s, punk, new wave, genre-defying band will release her debut solo record Guitars and MicrophonesFebruary 17 via Lazy Meadow Music/Kobalt Label Services. Revered for her anthemic pop chops, Kate’s songs are rife with girl group wit, drama—rejecting stereotypes and preconceived ideas at every turn.

Kate previously shared a taste of Guitars and Microphones with “Mister Sister” a poetic love letter of the power of transformation, for which a portion of proceeds will go to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Today she reveals the lush “Bring Your Arms,” an immediately infectious synth-pop jam with a move to the groove environmental theme. Co-written by Sia and Chris Braide, the song was inspired when Kate and Sia witnessed sea turtle egg rescue while on a trip to Tulum in Mexico. Environmental activists themselves, they found it moving and thus Sia hatched the song for Kate. “Bring Your Arms” is available as an instant-grat MP3 w/ Guitars and Microphones iTunes pre-order now! CD digipak is also available for pre-order at Amazon. A portion of the proceeds for “Bring Your Arms” will be donated to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

“Bring Your Arms” premiered with SPIN – Click here to give it a listen!

Guitars and Microphones was produced by Tim Anderson (Ima Robot) and features Nick Valensi of The Strokes on several tracks. Kate collaborated on songwriting with Sia who also executive produced the album. Along with being a B52, Pierson has collaborated with The Ramones, Iggy Pop, David Byrne and REM. Guitars and Microphones marries party rock, psychedelia and socio-political punk. This is humanism and feminism out for a real good time.

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Rock Icon Billy Idol To Release Highly Anticipated Album This October

Rock Icon Billy Idol To Release Highly Anticipated Album This October

Billy Idol

Billy Idol

Rock icon BILLY IDOL announced today that he will release his first new album in almost a decade, this October.  The album will come out on IDOL’s own BFI Records, via Kobalt Label Services.

Produced by Trevor Horn, the new album will arrive close to the release of IDOL’s highly anticipated self-written autobiography, Dancing With Myself, which as previously announced will be released in the U.S. via Touchstone, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Inc., on October 7.

IDOL recently launched his book campaign with a notable appearance at New York’s Book Expo America and is now on the road in Europe with his band, which includes longtime collaborator and lead guitarist Steve Stevens. The current leg of Idol’s tour continues until July 4 in Luxembourg.

Initial music from the new album will be released in late summer; IDOL’s world tour will continue into 2015.

For the latest BILLY IDOL news and updates, visit BillyIdol.net.

BILLY IDOL 2014 EUROPEAN TOUR DATES

Jun 17 – Berlin, DE – Zitadelle

Jun 18 – Hamburg, DE – Stadtpark

Jun 20 – Bratislava, SK – Aegon Arena

Jun 21 – Prague, CZ – Lucerna Theatre

Jun 24 – Ljubljana, SI – Hala Tivoli

Jun 25 – Belgrade, RS – Kalemegdan

Jun 27 – Skopje, Macedonia – Skopje Burning

Jun 29 – Bucharest, RO – Arenele Romane

Jun 30 – Cluj Napoca, RO – Cluj Arena

Jul 02 – Vienna, AT – Open Air Vienna

Jul 03 – Dresden, DE – Junge Garde

Jul 04 – Luxembourg, LU – Rockhal

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Richard Marx To Release ‘Beautiful Goodbye’ On July 8th

Richard Marx To Release ‘Beautiful Goodbye’ On July 8th

Richard Marx

Richard Marx

Legendary singer/songwriter Richard Marx‘s first new studio album of all new material in ten years, “Beautiful Goodbye,” is set for a July 8th, 2014 release date via Kobalt Label Services. The first single from the album, “Whatever We Started,” will be released digitally on iTunes this Thursday, May 22nd. The video for “Whatever We Started” has just premiered on Idolator and is worth a look! – Check out the video here >

Marx had this to say about the album: “The songs on this record were influenced greatly by everyone from Sade to Bebel Gilberto to various EDM artists to even Chopin. I’m known for romantic music in the past, but this music I wrote is all more sensual and ethereal, and the lyrics are more adventurous than I’ve been willing to go in the past.”

Every track on the new album also incorporates an orchestral element, and the recording of the tracks was, according to Marx, “a thrill beyond anything I’ve done in the studio. And singing these songs brought out what I believe are the most effortless vocals of my recording career, so far.”

All the tracks on ‘Beautiful Goodbye’ are written and produced by Marx except “Getaway,” co-written and produced with Walter Afanasieff; “Forgot To Remember” co-written with Vertical Horizon frontman and frequent Marx collaborator, Matt Scannell; “Turn Off The Night” co-written with multi-hit songwriter David Hodges, and the title track, co-written with Daisy Fuentes. A special edition of Beautiful Goodbye will also be available featuring two additional songs including “Moscow Calling,” a collaboration between Marx and well known EDM artist and DJ Morgan Page.

 

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Steel Panther To Release ‘All You Can Eat’ On April 1st, Tracklist Revealed!

Steel Panther To Release ‘All You Can Eat’ On April 1st, Tracklist Revealed!

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The Sunset Strip’s hottest export, Steel Panther, is back and ready to unleash their third full-length album, “All You Can Eat,” on the world. The 12-track masterpiece is slated to hit stands April 1st in the United States on Open E Records via Kobalt Label Services (KLS). The album will be available for pre-order on January 14th at Steelpantherrocks.com.

From the opening acoustic riff of album opener “Pussywhipped” to final chord hit in the album closer “She’s On The Rag,” it is clear Steel Panther is back and better than ever. Songs like “Gloryhole,” “Gangbang At The Old Folks Home” and “BVS” all showcase Steel Panther’s incredible musicianship and ability to write memorable and sometimes educational songs.

The band, comprised of Michael Starr on vocals, Satchel on guitar, Lexxi Foxx on bass and Stix Zadinia on drums, have made a name for themselves as one of the most entertaining acts out today. Longtime Steel Panther producer Jay Ruston produced “All You Can Eat.”

‘All You Can Eat’ Tracklisting:

1. Pussywhipped
2. Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World
3. Gloryhole
4. Bukkake Tears
5. Gangbang At The Old Folks Home
6. Ten Strikes You’re Out
7. The Burden Of Being Wonderful
8. F@#king My Heart In The Ass
9. BVS
10. You’re Beautiful When You Don’t Talk
11. If I Was The King
12. She’s On The Rag

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DAVE STEWART: To Release His New Studio Album, “Lucky Numbers,” On September 30th

DAVE STEWART: To Release His New Studio Album, “Lucky Numbers,” On September 30th

Dave Stewart

Dave Stewart

Kobalt Label Services (KLS) has struck an exclusive deal to be the official worldwide  label services partner (excluding the territories of Germany, Switzerland and Austria, which will be released by Membran) for the highly anticipated new album by renowned artist, producer and composer Dave Stewart.

The album is due for release on September 30 on Stewart’s own label, Weapons of Mass Entertainment (WME) via KLS. The first single entitled, “Every Single Night” featuring Martina McBride, impacts radio in the U.S. on August 13th.  KLS will market and distribute globally through its wholly-owned global digital platform and network of physical distribution partners.

“I’ve had a really great relationship with Kobalt for over five years and it seemed natural to me when they started KLS, to continue working with such a great company.”

Stewart is already a long-time, worldwide Kobalt client in the music publishing area and this year also tapped Kobalt’s neighbouring rights division to represent his entire repertoire throughout the world.

“As an entrepreneur and pioneer of innovation himself, Dave has been a long-time supporter and valued client of Kobalt’s alternative model. We’re extremely proud to further extend our already successful relationship with him to be his official label services partner on this exciting new album,” said Richard Sanders, President of Kobalt Music Group and Chairman of KLS.

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