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If you think Britney's attention grabbing antics are something to be written about, then you're mistaken. Nothing can compare to the stuff The Darkness does on stage at a concert. You'll have to be brilliantly smoked up to have the guts to do what they do, but The Darkness goes into full no-holds barred mode to give the audience a performance they'd never forget. One of the extreme things that lead singer and frontman Justin wishes he could do is get launched from a cannon whilst performing! Don't believe me? You will, once you get to the end of this article.

The Darkness hails from the coastal town of Lowestoft in the UK. Well, Justin and Dan Hawkins hail from the coastal town of Lowestoft, and the rest of the band was assembled there. It was like this - Justin and Dan had big rock and roll dreams and wanted to start a band as kids, so they both learnt to play the guitar at an early age. In London, the brothers met exiled Scot bassist Frankie Poullain, and later Ed Graham, who agreed to be their drummer. Like almost all people, these blokes were fond of booze and they'd frequent the local pubs for their regular fix. One of their favourite pubs was having a karaoke night, and Justin grabbed hold of the mike and proceeded to belt out Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody with great gusto. It was unanimously decided at that very moment that Justin would front the band.

Well, then the boys began playing local venues bars, pubs, their regular haunts, and developed a fan following. They were not 'cool' in the conventional sense. They did not wear suits like Westside, nor did they wear loose clothing like the rapper Eminem or Usher. They created their own look, their own style with their makeup, leather, tights, tight leotards, bright shiny PVC style jackets and shirts, crazy hair and on stage antics. Many critics have called them a hash-up between Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and Queen. Why? Well, because they dress in Steven Tyler's leotards, have soulful ballads like that of Bon Jovi and Def Leppard, Justin has an incredibly Freddy Mercury-ish voice and is accompanied by Dan's amazing guitar riffs that'd rival Slash! Dan mostly stays in the background, but is usually prodded to the fore by his brother. Bassist Frankie wears a bandanna and sports a huge handlebar moustache. He claims he was born with it! The drummer Ed can't be seen behind the army that is his equipment, but he is every bit loud as the rest. ACDC, Van Halen and KISS also have a big influence on their sound.

Their live shows always leave their fans gasping and screaming for more, while the band slated to play after them at concerts like T In The park, groan with despair because they can't compare to their antics! One wonders how Justin manages to sing with those incredibly tight pants he has on. But then again, maybe it is because the pants are so tight that he can sing so brilliantly! It is their unique mixture of music that has got them a huge fan following and their over-the-top flamboyant on-stage action has also got their fans hooked.

At the start, information about the band's gigs was passed through word of mouth or through flyers which were posted on the band's website. The scissor-kicking, non-conventional performances were a huge draw, but they didn't do it only to garner attention. It is their expression of individuality. And if you thought that Motley Crue's Tommy Lee did some wild things with his drums, then think again. Justin has a huge tattoo that resembles flames. This tattoo is strategically (and painfully) crafted from his crotch upwards. So the fans can almost always see the 'flaming crotch' tattoo when he takes off his ultra-tight shiny shirt and prances about stage in his low, tight pants. At one concert, girls threw their undergarments on stage and Justin called out for “More bras please!” Later on at the same gig, the bouncer carried him around the crowd! How mad is that!

Ask them about their rather different look and sound, and they'll tell you that they are sick of everyone being so uptight and so arrogant. They don't give a hoot about what people say. ‘Unfashionable’ was what they were called when they just started out. But listen to this - recently when Frankie was walking down Belsize Park with Justin and their manager (Sue, who Justin is dating), this huge people carrier with blacked-out windows stopped before them and Liam Gallagher (of Oasis fame) walked up to them, said “Top band! Top band!” and left. That is high praise indeed!

You can read the rest of our feature on The Darkness in the May 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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