Justin Hawkins (Darkness/Hot Leg)
Wayne Madden | Saturday, 07 March 2009
Justin Hawkins shot to fame in 2002 with the Darkness, a musical group famed as much for Hawkins' high-pitched voice as for brother Dan's Thin Lizzy T-shirt and bassist Frankie's handlebar mustache. After releasing two commercially successful albums - 2004's Permission To Land and 2006's One Way Ticket To Hell...And Back, the group disbanded, citing musical and addiction problems.
Hawkins then made a failed attempt, alongside Beverly Brown, to represent the UK during the Eurovision song contest in 2007, after which he spent time working on alter-ego solo project British Whale - most of the material of which goes unreleased to this day.
In late 2008 Hawkins began a new musical project, Hot Leg, and made great ground by supporting both Extreme and Alter Bridge. Debut album Red Light Fever was released in February 2009.
I had the pleasure of seeing you guys last October in the GRV in Edinburgh. What have you got in store for us tonight?
It's similar to the last time you saw us, in that it's a mega-man rock show, only we play the whole album now. The whole Red Light Fever album. And half the set is stuff from the next record, as yet untitled, and it's just sort of bigger and better than we were last year.
What's the reception been like to Red Light Fever so far?
Yeah, brilliant, everyone who... the main concern for us was everyone who supported us live, you know, the hopefuls... that they'd enjoy listening to it as well. Because it's sometimes hard to capture a band live. Everyone is delighted with the way it's turned out. The record's for the fans - and we're really happy that they've enjoyed listening to it.
How did Hot Leg come together? Was it through your love of tennis?
Yeah. Darby Todd [band's drummer] and I played tennis together. I met him at the club, what, three or four years ago. We started playing doubles together every Wednesday night at the Southampton Tennis Club and we forged an unbeatable partnership. And we always said it would be nice to work together on a musical project. Obviously I had the Darkness going on at the time.
So it was really just looking for the oppurtunity to take our tennis partnership elsewhere. And now it's sort of extended into music. And Darby knew Sam [the band's bassist] anyway so he'd worked with him. Sam's brother made us aware of Pete [Rinaldi, lead guitarist] and as soon as Pete came along the whole puzzle was complete.
You cut your teeth with Alter Bridge and Extreme in the UK last November, supporting them on several dates in the UK, and I believe Extreme asked you and Pete to play with them on a Meledy of Queen songs in Wembley Arena? What was THAT like!?
It was pretty amazing. You know like, there's this ad for a shoe manufacter - and you see through the first person perspective of the person growing up and playing football and coming up through the ranks etc - seeing Gary Cherone onstage with you, singing, is the most surreal thing I've ever done I think. Really, really insane and such a great oppurtunity. And it was all their idea so we were so happy just to be invited.
Looking on YouTube recently I found you and Philip Schofield of all people as part of an X Factor panel, what was that like?
Haha, yeah. I really really hate that programme, and never even watched an episode. But they asked me to come along and watch an episode and give my opinion and I did it because I thought it would give me the chance to promote what I was doing with Hot Leg at the time. It made no difference whatsoever. But I did manage to correctly guess the person who was to be voted off that week!
Tell us about the films you've been working on.
I've done a couple of films. I only do horror films or things that sound like fun... and you know, I've got a couple of things coming out later this year. I've got Telstar and a horror film called Vivid.
The band loves to give extra material, either as B-sides or as free downloads...
We do free downloads because it's good to share!
So do you have an album of unreleased material or do you just do a B-side as and when and then stick it on there?
I think we do just do it as and when. Obviously if there's an album to be made we do it all at once but we also like to drip feed it too so you can see how we're developing.
You've also recently announced a show in the Viper Room in LA?
The advantage of giving away mp3s is that you're able to build up fanbases with England, Scotland, America, Japan and Scandinavia... so those are the places worth going for us because we've got fans there. I've never actually played at the Viper Room but Darby is so excitied about it.
What's coming up for the band - any festivals?
Nothing confirmed. We're looking at couple of the festivals and whatnot and then deciding when we can go to Japan. And that's about it really.