By Peter Russell

Having endured the full gambit of clichéd rock star triumphs and hardships in their 15-year career (financial woes! break-ups! rehab! reunions!), the unapologetically outlandish classic rock-revivalist outfit known as The Darkness are back with Last of Our Kind, the fourth instalment of their uniquely well-known brand of throwback face-meltery. And this time, they’re throwing their gaze 1,100 years back, delivering ten tracks of old rock with enough mandolin to make Nicolas Cage blush. From “Barbarian”, which details the death of Edmund the Martyr, to “Roaring Waters”, which doesn’t shy away from a good poop-deck joke, Last, of Our Kind makes a strong case for earning The Darkness a second Ivor Novelo Award for songwriting.

On the eve of the new album storming American shores, critics had a chance to speak with wily frontman, Justin Hawkins, a man on a many-headed mission. Better yet, call it a crusade. A crusade to free musicians from the stifling shackles of radio-friendly meekness. A crusade to re-blanket our cargo vans with murals of helmet-headed warriors and buxom maidens. A crusade to… persuade people to eat conscientious and balanced diets? That’s right, and he couldn’t be more serious, or silly, about it. Read why below.

The Darkness reunited in 2011, and subsequently released “Hot Cakes”, but there seems to be a lot of buzz about Last of Our Kind being the quote-unquote “Return of The Darkness.” What’s your take on that?

Justin Hawkins: All of that stuff’s quite tedious, if I’m honest. It’s just a fourth album! We weren’t even apart for that long. I mean, everyone says it was five years, but actually, it wasn’t. You know, Dan and I started working together again in 2009, so it was only three years at the most, you know? It’s all been played up a little bit towards that angle, but for us, it’s really tedious. But, you know, it’s great. I’m glad there is a buzz about the album. We’ve worked hard on it, and we’re delighted it’s getting positive feedback.

The Darkness has always had this light-hearted self-awareness about it’s place in the spectrum of current rock music—how you have no peers in this generation, how you guys are kind of an anachronism, having more in common with bands from thirty years ago like Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, Queen. Is that what you mean with the title track, “Last of Our Kind”?

JH: It’s about the community of people who appreciate the important things in rock, as I see them. And that means nonconformity. It means guitar solos. It means doing what’s right for the composition and not what you’re supposed to do. It’s about the feeling. The world of rock-and-roll, as I know it, is diminishing, and I think it’s because the mainstream doesn’t allow that kind of virtuoso guitar playing, and it shames people out of celebrating the glory of classic rock. And so our numbers are dwindling. New bands that come through, they’re either gonna be completely retrospectively doing rock and roll as a tribute, or they’re gonna be doing what they need to do to get on the radio and make a good living out of music. And that sucks. Our numbers are diminishing, and we need to stick together because we are the last of our kind. If we roll over and die, then this particular genre will die with us, and that would be a disaster.

Click Here to visit the The Darkness website

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