The Darkness are currently midway through a mammoth UK tour visiting everywhere they possibly can to play to as many people as they can. We went to see them in London and it was fucking incredible. If you don’t like every song on Permission To Land then you’re a) Wrong and b) FUCKING WRONG. Before the spandex hero Justin Hawkins went on stage that night though, we caught up for a round of 20 Questions that led to us talking about turning into a hedgehog, having sex with mermaids and eating cat food. Give it a read below.
The best pair of shoes you’ve ever owned?
I’m a person that has a lot of shoes. I’ve never known a woman that I’ve been related to or in a relationship with who has anywhere near as many shoes as me. I love all of them, that’s why I can’t get rid of them, but if I had to pick one it would be my white combat boots. Actually, no. There was a company that used to be called Augusta but they’re now A Diciannoveventitre, they’re an Italian company and these guys make shoes by hand, and I got a pair of black derbies. They’re the kind of thing Charlie Chaplin might have worn and they go with nothing that I own, but that sort of makes it better so I wear them all the time. Whatever you do, they stand out. It’s a simple classic design but nothing I wear is like that.
Favourite video game?
I really enjoyed International Superstar Soccer when it first came out on the N64. That was one of the first games where you could really create the look of the players so I had me and my brother up front, a few of my friends in midfield, and commanding the central defence was my father. When I won the World Cup with those lot as England there’s a sequence of the team walking round the stadium with confetti everywhere and all the players throwing my father into the air and catching him. It was just so funny, I could watch it all day.
The best place in the world?
I used to think that it was somewhere vaguely exotic and weird like parts of Tokyo or something like that, but in reality it’s the Cap d’Antibes in the south of France because the people are so arrogant it’s an inspiration to me. Everyone behaves like a rockstar and I don’t enough. The way they speak to each other, the way they turn their nose up at things – it’s just awesome. It’s a new kind of etiquette. If everybody behaved like that they’d all be a lot happier. Beneath all the people-pleasing and politeness in England there’s seething resentment, but in the south of France no-one gives a fuck and at least they’re honest. The weather’s a bonus.
You can travel through time – where do you go?
I used to think I’d like to go back in time cos I read a lot about the old Vaudevillian music hall stuff and I think I would excel as a performer in those times. Then I realised that I like comfort and I’m vegan, which I don’t think was a very popular life choice in the late 1800s. But I’d be fascinated to visit the Faranelli era when the castrato singers were the first rockstars of the time. I think they really knew how to put on a show – no props or pyro, just costumery and opulence.
I enjoy it when people say that someone’s a waste of skin because it’s really damning. Somebody said on an early Darkness forum on the internet that when my mother gave birth to me she must have turned round and thought she’d had a shit.
Worst injury you’ve suffered?
I used to play pub football until quite recently. Every week something bad happens, I’ve still got socks with stud holes in them and scars down my legs, but there was a particularly bad one when I was playing out of position. I was in defence which isn’t my position, but I was doing okay, then did something really stupid. Somebody was going to shoot and I just put my foot in the way and he kicked straight through it and bent my foot right round. I knew something bad had happened and you could see my foot swelling up through my boot.
Favourite mythical creature?
I used to think trolls were quite interesting but they’re quite rubbish aren’t they? Why do they defend bridges all the time? I like centaurs, though. Every man wants to be hung like a horse. If they got it the other way round with a man’s body and a horse’s head it would be slightly less impressive. My favourite is a mermaid with the fish on top and woman on the bottom because you don’t look at the chimney when you’re stoking the fire, ha ha ha!
The most disgusting thing you’ve ever eaten?
Catfood. I’ve always prided myself on being able to put anything in my mouth without flinching, ha ha ha! But I was trying to impress Ed our drummer and I was drunk on the floor and saw some catfood next to me so I crawled over to it and ate it but I didn’t realise how disgusting it would be. I thought it was going to taste like meat and jelly but I ate a little bit then threw up immediately. Never doing that again.
First album you bought?
Raising Hell by Run DMC. We were brought up with a lot of good music. I was given some money to buy tapes with when I was a kid and the first one I bought was Run DMC. I still think it’s a great album. I didn’t realise at the time that it was produced by Rick Rubin and he played a lot of the guitar parts on it which got me into playing guitar. Subsequently a lot of albums that I still love were produced by him.
Punchline to your favourite joke?
“So I told her to fuck off.”
If you weren’t doing this for a living, what would you be doing?
I’d be at the bottom of the ocean with a crab crawling out of my eye. I’d be dead. I’d jump off a bridge and I imagine I’d drift out to sea and the sealife would feed on me. A serious(ish) answer is that I used to think I was quite versatile but it turns out that I’m not. I can’t do anything else. It’s not that I don’t want to do anything else, I’d quite like to work in Starbucks cos where I live I get on really well with the people who work in Starbucks and it looks like they have a good laugh. I’m a fan of the product and I’d be happy working there, but my skill set is limited to being rude to people who work for me and singing. Neither of those are going to get me a job in Starbucks.
Superpower of choice?
I’d like to be like Manimal and be able to change into any animal according to my needs. Say there was some promo I didn’t want to do, I’d turn into a hedgehog and curl up into a little ball. I’m a big fan of Hawk The Slayer and anything foresty. Crow from Hawk The Slayer is a favourite of mine because he can fire arrows really quickly, and if I had that ability I’d be a very happy man.
Most you’ve ever needed the toilet?
I’ve found myself crowning during a television interview before and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t really lean over to Jonathan Ross and say “Do you mind if I pop to the loo?” There’s something about being in a public place.
If you have an hour to kill, how do you fill it?
Murder She Wrote. There’s one episode that’s so boring it took me five hours to get through cos I kept falling asleep. It was an episode that involved a remote control car being used to kill somebody. I had to do it in increments of five minutes before I fell asleep, but it’s a good way to kill time. The thing about Murder She Wrote and even Columbo is that there’s no peril. You’re never on the edge of your seat, it’s just a bit uncomfortable.
Stupidest thing you’ve done to impress a sexy person?
I just pulled my trousers and pants down and stood before her and she said to me “What does it mean?”. This was actually my wife so that doesn’t count. I spend most of my life trying to impress myself and I’m not sexy.
Drink of choice?
Urine. I have a nice little glass in the morning which is why I have such an incredible complexion for a 75-year-old, ha ha ha! I like Starbucks of course. Even when I’m too edgy and don’t want caffeine, I have decaf. I feel that when Starbucks bring out the Christmas mugs that’s like opening an Advent calendar and it begins the excitement of Christmas for me.
What have you seen that you wish you could unsee?
You, Me And Dupree – that is the worst film I’ve ever seen. There’s so many continuity errors, it’s a shit story and everybody in it is just dog shit. I like some of the actors involved but it’s such a bad film. There’s a moment when Matt Dillon is getting exasperated because his friend isn’t letting him and his wife enjoy their honeymoon together and he’s drinking a glass of whiskey then it cuts back and he’s holding a bottle. None of it is ironic, it’s just a bad film.
An amazing fact about you?
I taught music to asylum seekers in Peckham. I had a friend who worked at a college where a lot of these asylum seekers would go and she needed somebody to give them something to do while they’re waiting to be housed. The idea is that you work up to a performance kind of thing, but it’s difficult cos they’re getting re-housed and it’s a different bunch of people each day. I was teaching them piano.
Most illegal thing you’ve ever done?
I used to be really careful about questions like this because we were worried about getting visas into America but a couple of years ago they decided I was a person of extraordinary ability and I could come and go as I please. To be honest I never stole anything, I’ve never hurt anybody – my only thing was drugs really. Obviously to pay for those drugs there was the odd bit of prostitution and should one of my dealers want retribution for a client who hadn’t paid I was the one who made him disappear, but apart from that nothing really. Ha ha ha, no, it was just drugs. But I never sold drugs, never shared drugs – I was just a very selfish drug man.0