Gather ‘round faithful followers of rock ‘n’ roll. The Darkness has returned to bless your ear drums with their new record, Easter Is Cancelled.
In a world where music is created to be consumed in bite-sized, streamable pieces, the British-quartet have forged a majestic 14-track epic that is designed to be gorged on in full from start to finish.
The Darkness purists will be glad to know that the piercing falsettos and face-melting guitar solos are right where you left them, but the record also draws inspiration from more unorthodox sources including punk and prog-rock to English folk and jazz. This means that one minute you’re hurled into head-banging chaos on ‘Live Til I Die’ and ‘Choke On It’ and the next you’re lulled into calming reprieves on ‘Deck Chair’ and ‘Confirmation Bias’.
It’s a concept album of sorts and while we know that The Darkness has never been one to cling to convention, the record’s narrative definitely doesn’t disappoint in this regard. In an interview with Planet Rock earlier this year, front-man Justin Hawkins explained that the narrative is inspired by the idea of multiverses and an alternate ending to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Hence why Easter is now cancelled.
At the same time, the record flips the bird to the corrupt powers that be.
In a stirring (and fucking hilarious) state of address for Easter Is Cancelled, The Darkness proclaimed that they’re “men in tight costumes, ready to fight the power-drunk clowns who cast a shadow of despair across the land”. Despite the tales of anti-establishment and alternate realities, the boys have described the sixth album as their most lyrically heartfelt and honest work yet.
To herald the new record, The Darkness will be returning to Australia for six shows that will no doubt make for unforgettable nights of plunging jumpsuits, cow bells and rock ‘n’ roll frivolity. Ahead of the record and tour, we had a chat with drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor about experimenting with new genres, perfecting the recording process and the crazy shit we can expect from the Easter Is Cancelled tour.
Music Feeds: We got our first sneak peek of the record with ‘Rock and Roll Deserves To Die’ and ‘Heart Explodes’. Were you happy with the fan’s responses to those?
Rufus Tiger Taylor: The responses have been great. ‘Heart Explodes’ is probably my favourite one, that one. I always just especially loved it from the beginning. It feels like a stadium track. We did play that at the Ed Sheeran shows and it did really well. I’ve been driving around with it for a while as well and that feels really good.
MF: I love that! Surely there’s no better feeling driving around and rocking out to your own banger?
RTT: (Laughs) Oh god! Now you’ve put it like that it sounds really embarrassing. I was just testing it out that was all! (laughs).
MF: Sure, sure! The band took a different approach on the creation of this album, can you talk me through the process used this time?
RTT: Like all of my favourite albums from the olden days, it’s a journey album. You can put it on from beginning to end and it takes you on a journey. A lot of the lyrics and songs tell a certain story, but tracks like ‘Rock and Roll Deserves to Die’, the lyrics on that are brilliant. It’s just more like an homage and like a “have some of this!” to the rest of the rock bands at the moment.
MF: It’s definitely a different approach to take while the rest of the world is dropping singles and EPs to suit the way we’re consuming music in 2019. Was that deliberate?
RTT: Absolutely, yeah. We just wanted to go back to our favourites.
MF: Were there any records or artists in particular that inspired you to take this approach?
RTT: I don’t think we were really taking any inspiration from them more so than the whole idea and ethos of buying an LP. You take it out and put it on and you’re not skipping songs. You’re sat there and you’re listening to the album which is exactly how we wanted it to be. We chose the order very carefully and we think it works that way. We weren’t really referencing as much as we were just doing it, you know? (laughs).
MF: I’ve heard Justin talk of multiverses and an alternate ending to the crucifixion inspiring ‘Easter Is Cancelled’. Would you consider it a concept album?
RTT: Yeah, definitely. It definitely follows a story. There’s a song called ‘How Can I Lose Your Love?’, it’s just full of a few bangers you know? There are a few dark horses as well. There’s another one called ‘Heavy Metal Lover’ which is very interesting (laughs). It’s better left to the ear though to be honest. I don’t want to give too much away. We’ve even got a Rage Against The Machine-esque rapping section in the middle of that song (laughs), which you wouldn’t expect from us but it works. It’s heavy as hell.
We’ve got a song called ‘Deck Chair’ which is nothing like we’ve ever done before. It’s really intricate and beautiful and very gentle. Justin sings it amazingly in a traditional sort of way and his voice sounds amazing. He added a sort of Jeff Beck-style guitar solo in the middle and I insisted on having no drums in it whatsoever. That’s kind of slapped in the middle of the album to give you a break from all of the mayhem.
The title track ‘Easter Is Cancelled’ is probably my favourite sounding track on the record. It’s just an all-out banger. We got to the end of the album and finished every song and realised that we didn’t have one single fast one from start to finish. So we just jumped in the studio because that’s what we’re really good at. We can do that kind of thing really quickly. We basically sat down and the first thing Frank played and the first thing I played are the first four bars of the song and then we just carried on from there and had it done in an hour or something.
MF: You mentioned that you dabbled with some different sounds but ‘Easter Is Cancelled’ also draws sonic influences from punk and grunge to jazz. How did that happen?
RTT: We basically tried to write the lyrics in Dan’s kitchen with acoustic guitars before we even went in to the studio and got anything down, which is a very different approach to how we did the last record. But it does work. You fumble along certain things and that’s what you get when you just throw yourself into the studio, but this time we thought a lot more about it.
I guess those proggy moments like the second half of ‘Rock and Roll Deserves to Die’, that was Dan and I in the studio just having fun with the riff and the drums and seeing how far we can take it, really. We just kept it really fun and there’s definitely some more proggy moments later on ‘Easter Is Cancelled’. It just came out organically and it felt right and it was kickin’ ass.
MF: You’ve also described this record as the most ‘heartfelt’ one yet. Why do you say that?
RTT: I think the lyrics are very honest. Well, more honest and very clever. They take different meanings sometimes when you’re listening to them in different circumstances. In terms of lyrics on this album, Justin did them all whereas we usually help out on the others. But on this one we’d finish the song and present it to him and he’d love it and then he’d take 15-20 minutes and he’d come back with the most brilliantly done lyrics that I’d seen in a long time. So lyrically, he really just knocked it out of the park.
I guess it’s just a product of taking more time with it. We were super strict with what we let on the album and with the individual parts on the songs. We ended up recording six to eight other songs. We nearly finished all of them but then we shit canned them because they just weren’t good enough (laughs). So I guess it’s just a product of taking a lot more time with it.
MF: Was it hard to part ways with those songs?
RTT: Yeah, it was fucking hard. Sometimes we would’ve spent days on them and then a couple of us wouldn’t like it and that’s a good enough reason for it to not be on the album. So we’d just have to wave goodbye to two weeks of sweat (laughs).
MF: What are you looking forward to the most about the Australian tour?
RTT: Just getting back, really! We all love it there so much. We usually play a lot of tennis and probably try to go for a surf. We always have a great time in Oz.
MF: Are there any tracks from ‘Easter Is Cancelled’ that you’re especially excited to perform on the tour?
RTT: Yeah, there are actually a few really annoying arrangements on there which I’m less excited about doing but they’ll be fun. ‘Heavy Metal Lover’ is a bit of an annoying arrangement but that’s going to be great fun to play. ‘Easter Is Cancelled’ is probably the one I’m really looking forward to.
MF: The last time I saw The Darkness, Justin invited like 10 people from the crowd onto the stage to play the cow bell in ‘One Way Ticket’. What can we expect from the live shows this time?
RTT: I mean, what you always know about a The Darkness show is that you never know what the fuck is going to happen. So I would expect even more of that or something weirder (laughs).
The Darkness’ new record Easter Is Cancelled is officially out Friday, 4th October. They will be returning to Australia and New Zealand in March, 2020 for six dates.