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This much I know

January 25, 2009

Justin Hawkins, musician, 33, London

Justin Hawkins of Hot Leg

Justin Hawkins of Hot Leg at the Gibson guitar offices in Central London Photograph: Richard Saker

I was drawn to 80s rock because I loved the fact that it was ugly men trying to look like girls and subsequently being really popular with girls. Something about that appealed to me.

When I was about five I wanted to be a girl. I used to try and call myself Rose at school, but it didn’t take off.

I was a rubbish teenager. I didn’t apply myself at school and I wasn’t very popular with girls. I was just really into my music which basically meant wearing very, very tight jeans. The same as now. I’m pretty much the same thirtysomething as I was a 17-year-old.

I got into wearing catsuits because of my mum. She always used to reminisce about her time hanging out in London in the Swinging Sixties and meeting Jimi Hendrix and Brian Jones. She talked about this one time when Brian Jones was dancing in a pink catsuit, threatening to unzip it. In my head I always associated rock, and flamboyance, with the one-piece catsuit. It was just a case of growing the balls to be able to wear one.

I have no idea how many tattoos I’ve got. This whole right arm is one giant one, I’ve got some on my left arm, some on my leg and pink flames coming up around my groin. The one on my leg was the most painful. The groinal one was more enjoyable than you’d imagine.

Initially with my new band, Hot Leg, we had a rule that all band members had to wear a headband – as an homage to Björn Borg and the late-70s tennis greats. But we’ve started to relax the rule, mainly because I recently had a better haircut.

The way I deal with serious stuff is to not take it seriously. That has hindered certain areas of my emotional development.

I’m a health enthusiast now. I exercise as much as I can. I don’t smoke or do drugs or alcohol or anything mind-altering. It’s quite a weird experience touring in that way. It actually feels more rock’n’roll. It isn’t about the other stuff any more – it’s about the music.

My proudest moment with the Darkness was performing “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” at the Brits. The finale involved me falling through a trap door as fireworks went off. I remember crouching there, checking my hair wasn’t on fire, and then thinking: “Yes. I’ve just disappeared from a stage in a giant explosion, having won three Brits. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

England doesn’t really have groupies. I think it’s something to do with the climate.

Entering the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest was a mistake. It was part of being at a very low ebb. That’s not going to happen again.

I’m not all right financially. I spent unwisely. The Ferrari probably wasn’t a good call. In this country you can’t drive it fast, and the weather just kills it slowly.

I’m totally happy not being in a relationship. I split up with Sue [Whitehouse, his manager] a long time ago, but we carried on living in the same house. I’m downsizing now, moving into my own place. Just me and my little cat. I’m feeling very positive about it.

Staying sane and staying in shape go hand in hand for me. You can plainly see when I’m losing my mind. It has physical manifestations on my body. That’s why I’m covered in tattoos, and in the past five years I’ve gone from 10.5 stone to 15 stone and back to 10.5 stone.

I don’t see the last six years as a rise and fall. I see it as a fall and rise. There are bound to be troughs in the future, but they won’t be accompanied by madness and addiction.

• Hot Leg’s debut album, Red Light Fever, is released on 9 February

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