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Weekend: Into the heart of Darkness

Permission to land: The Darkness, from left; Justin, Rufus Taylor, Dan Hawkins, Frankie Poullain

IT WILL be spectacular,’ says Justin Hawkins, flamboyant frontman of The Darkness, as the band prepare to set out on the road promoting their latest album, Easter Is Cancelled. ‘There’ll be loads of trickery, jiggery-pokery, magic, pops, bangs, whistles, fizzes and jets of air.’

No doubt it will be rather different from their summer shows, where they were special guests of Ed Sheeran.

‘It was good fun,’ admits Justin. ‘At first it was a little bit awkward with the audience as I don’t think we were what they were expecting when they bought their tickets. They warmed to us and by the end we made a lot of new friends.’

Justin cites supporting Robbie Williams at Knebworth in 2003 as key to the band’s success. ‘There were so many people at Knebworth on the first day, we couldn’t get off-site as the traffic was so bad,’ he says. ‘We ended up sleeping in our dressing room. By the end of that weekend we were famous.’

The following month, the band released their debut album, Permission To Land, which reached Number One and featured the seemingly ubiquitous hit single I Believe In A Thing Called Love.

Since then, they’ve notched up hits like festive favourite Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End), split up, reformed and made a successful comeback.

Easter Is Cancelled is their first concept piece. It explores three different themes — the first being the self-explanatory single Rock And Roll Deserves To Die.

‘It’s about how our genre has been reduced to the point of inertia as people are too precious about what they consider to be real rock’n’roll,’ says Justin. ‘Every ten years, something brilliant happens and people say, “This band has come to save rock’n’roll!”

‘They used to say it about us. They said it about nu metal and grunge. You don’t hear that with other genres, because there isn’t the same reverence for the old stuff. They expand boundaries in the name of progress.’

The album also touches on emotional upheaval and multiverse theory — the idea that there are an infinite number of parallel universes and that every single thing that could happen has happened or is happening somewhere in one of them. Justin finds that comforting.

‘When something bad happens, you can think, “At least there is a universe where everything is brilliant — where I didn’t waste all my money and I’m rich.”’

It hasn’t all been rock’n’roll for Justin this year, though. He took part in hit daytime show Bargain Hunt, where he and bassist Frankie Poullain took on Grant and Taka from Feeder in an antiques-selling showdown at a fair in Lincolnshire. ‘I would thoroughly recommend it,’ says Justin.

‘In the end we lost money at the auction, but we didn’t lose as much as Feeder.’

For now, though, it’s back to the grindstone — and Justin is thrilled. ‘It’s my favourite time of year,’ he enthuses. ‘When we’re on tour, everything makes sense to me. I have my bunk and I have the show — it’s the only part of the year when I have any routine in my life.’

The Darkness play Rock City, Nottingham, tonight, and touring, thedarknesslive.com