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February 20, 2009

Q&A: Justin Hawkins

Friday February 20 2009

On solo projects, drugs and rumours on the darkness…

You had a solo project called British Whale. Why did you decide to form a new band?

I missed being in a band. It’s pretty simple — it’s just about four blokes making noise!

Will Hot Leg shows feature spectacular live stunts like The Darkness?

We’re keeping it simple with this stuff. We can’t do pyro or big props and it’s still evolving in terms of presentation. People will get to see exactly what I experience in rehearsals.

Recently you dabbled in acting, playing Screaming Lord Sutch in a biopic of Joe Meek. How did you find the experience?

I haven’t heard anything recently about the movie, so I don’t really know what’s going on with it. It’s been screened at a few film festivals. He’s a fascinating person and Alice Cooper took a lot from him and so did punk rock.

Do you have fond memories of playing in Ireland?

We headlined Oxegen by default because Bowie got sick and we stepped in. It was amazing. At one point, loads of people fell over. We had to stop the set to give everyone a chance to pick people up. I remember presenting an award at the Meteors with Joe Elliott and I was wearing this jacket with tassles. Louis Walsh came over to say hello, but he had just said something mean about The Darkness so I tried to ignore him, but some of my tassles got caught in the scaffolding and I was stuck there. I used to love having a few Guinnesses, but I gave up the drinking.

Really? Obviously that famous spell in the Priory was successful!

I don’t drink, do drugs or smoke. I’ve got an acting role coming up where my character smokes, so I’m a bit worried about that!

Before Christmas, rumours circulated that The Darkness were reforming.

I’ve absolutely no idea where that came from. I’m surprised that people believed what they read to be honest. It’s complete nonsense.

Over the years, we’ve been tabloid fodder and I’ve had all sorts of untrue things written about me, but that one was complete horseshit. It was very annoying that it was said that we don’t get on, because we’ve a great relationship now. They hadn’t bothered to check any of the facts at all.

It was just someone shooting their mouth off and making up the whole thing from start to finish. Even the desert investor in Dubai responsible for Dubai Desert Rock mentioned in the story was all wrong. I’ve played that festival and there is no American investor involved in it at all.

Never say never?

I’d say just never! Life’s too short. I might do a Hot Leg reunion in February, apart from that I’ve no plans. If someone said if you got a huge truck full of money would you do it, I’d still say no.

It was never about money for me. There are far more important things in life, one of which is Hot Leg.

What would be your advice to a band starting out in the current economic and musical climate?

Play a lot and don’t worry about getting a record deal. Just try and get fans. If you get a record deal, you might not have anyone to sell records to! It used to be about doing shows and promoting the album and it was all fairly clear what you had to do.

Now, no one really knows how it’s going to pan out. It’s up in the air, so it’s important that people make up their own minds about what’s good and what’s bad, which is the glory of the internet.

It means that bands can exist without a load of suits telling them what to do. It’s an exciting time, once we figure out where the money is going to come from!

Hot Leg play the Village, Dublin on Friday, February 27. The album Red Light Fever is out now

– Eamon Sweeney

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