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Music students shed some light on a heart of Darkness

March 7, 2009
DESKJOB: Hot Leg – JustinHawkins, DardyToddandSamStokes – in the studio with students Gary Wilson and Jonathan Toye
DESKJOB: Hot Leg – JustinHawkins, DardyToddandSamStokes – in the studio with students Gary Wilson and Jonathan Toye
DESKJOB: Hot Leg – JustinHawkins, DardyToddandSamStokes – in the studio with students Gary Wilson and Jonathan Toye
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Click on thumbnail to view image
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MUSIC lessons can rarely have been any cooler.
Students at Jewel & Esk College arrived this week to find a guest tutor – in the shape of former Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins.

And the budding musicians kept the rock star on his toes as they fired questions at him on everything from favourite film moments to the more controversial departure of bassist Frankie Poullain, who went to the Capital’s Royal High School.

Brave students even quizzed him on his bizarre Eurovision bid in 2007 – which he point blank refused to answer.

Hawkins and two members of his new band, Hot Leg, were in Edinburgh to play at Cabaret Voltaire.

They spent a couple of hours at Jewel & Esk’s new Milton Road East campus, speaking to students on the modern musicianship, sound engineering, music business and events management courses about life as a rock star.

While a lot of students were trying to get tips on the best equipment and techniques, Hawkins and band mates Sam Stoke and Darby Todd were also put on the spot about their heroes, their favourite Terminator film and their wildest rock star moments.

Famed for his flamboyant fashion sense, the students didn’t let Hawkins off the hook on that front either, as he turned up in another outrageous outfit.

When questioned about his choice of attire, Hawkins said: “Today’s outfit is literally what I woke up in.

“I thought I was going to the hotel first. Otherwise I wouldn’t be wearing pink jeans with cowboy boots over the top and a parka.”

Hawkins told students about his six years in The Darkness – four of which he described as “very bleak” – and how he ditched one of its original members early on for not being as good as him on the guitar. He added: “If you want to make it big, you have got to get rid of the dead wood.”

But he didn’t want to talk about former Edinburgh band mate Poullain, who quit the band in 2005 due to “musical differences”.

When asked whether his Darkness fame has helped to kick-start the success of Hot Leg, Hawkins replied: “It’s a help and a hindrance, a blessing and a curse.

“If it weren’t for that, we wouldn’t be able to come and do this kind of thing. But then most people who come across Hot Leg have a preconception of me because of what I’ve done.”

Even though the band had just a short time at the college, Hawkins enjoyed himself so much answering the students’ questions that he refused on several occasions to leave the stage, always asking for “one more question”.

Before leaving the college, the band had a quick tour round its recording studios – while clutching cups of green tea – accompanied by a couple of fans.

Darkness fanatic Jonathan Toye, 18, was star-struck when he met Hawkins. The Loanhead teenager said: “Justin Hawkins was the reason I picked up a guitar.”

Modern musicianship student Gary Wilson, 16, from Mayfield, added: “It was weird coming into college and seeing them.”

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