Their debut record, Permission to Land, has sold over 3.5 million records, debuting at number 1. They’ve sold out Wembley Arena three nights, they have four Top 10 singles, and are headlining the legendary Reading & Leeds Festival. And this is just from their debut record. It is safe to say that The Darkness are quite popular. Most bands take years to get to this level. As one of those 3.5 million record owners of Permission To Land, I can say it’s one of the best hard rock records of all time, hands down. No debate necessary. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to speak to new bass player, Richie Edwards.
So, first off, do people still ask you guys if you’re a joke-band or novelty act?
Edwards: [laughs] Yes, they do. The main reason we’re still seen as a joke band or as a novelty, is the cat-suits and stage presence. But when you listen to the records you don’t get cat-suits. It’s not ironic, but it has a sense of humor. What I consider to be one of the best things about rock music is that it has a sense of humor. Like Bon Scott from AC/DC.He was a brilliant lyricist, and he had a sense of humor and nobody considered AC/DC a joke band. Really, (in terms of the record) the only comical aspect of it are Justin’s lyrics, which I think are brilliant. But there are certain people who we can never please. People who say “they’ve lost their humor” are the same people who said that we were a joke band in the first place. The answer is a firm: No, we are not a joke band.
Did you record on One Way Ticket To Hell…and Back?
Edwards: I was in the studio, but due to the timing of my entrance into the band I wasn’t playing bass on the record. But you can hear my sweet, sweet vocals on it. Dan recorded the bass parts, but he asked for my advice. Saying things like, “does this sound right?”
Going into the recording of the album, was there anything that you wanted to, I don’t want to say improve, but kind of change from Permission to Land?
Edwards: To be honest, the main factor was Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, Who, Journey).
He’s made a few good records.
Edwards: [laughs] Yeah, just a couple. But he just made the songs a great deal better.Ultimately, this record has been made by a genius producer. I can’t really say enough about him. Plus, we had the luxury of time & money. Permission to Land was made in 2 weeks with 20,000 pounds. It gave Roy time to work his magic. The entire process itself was a incredible experience. Roy records everything to tape and pays such a precise attention to detail. For example, Roy and I were in the studio before the recording and we spent days moving the drums around the studio and putting mics in different places. Eventually we put the drums on a stage in the center of the room. Roy came to a point where he was like “ok, we can record now.” That’s the kind of thing you can hear on the record. The drums are just huge on this record.
Absolutely, you can hear every instrument used in the recording.
Edwards: Yeah, you can.
Did Baker approach you about recording One Way Ticket To Hell…, or was it the other way around?
Edwards: Roy came to a party in LA after one of our shows. This party had a awful lot of producers that the label was pushing on us for our next record. And Roy was there just sitting enjoying the free Champaign. Dan was first to meet him. He met Dan outside while Dan was having a smoke, and things just went well. Roy would hang out with us and just have a laugh. Justin approached Roy gingerly about recording with him. Roy’s answer was, “Well, duh.”
How was the transition from going to Dan’s guitar tech, to bass player?
Edwards: It was truly the easiest thing. At no point has anybody been like “well what’s the new guy going to do” or “how does the new guy feel about this.” We knew each other very well anyway. We aren’t at the “getting to know you” stage or anything. I’ve officially been in the band now for like 7 months. That’d still be “getting to know you” stage had I not known the band before. It’s been an absolutely joyful transition. Really I love these guys. Unless they were here, then I’d be complaining about my cut [laughs].
Well I was going to ask you what your favorite song from the album is, both recorded and live, but since you haven’t played live as an official member yet, what’s you’re favorite recorded song from the record?
Edwards: Well I’ve been playing with the band in rehearsal for a while now. But my favorite song changes on a daily basis. Today it’s “English Country Garden.” Yesterday, it was “Is It Just Me?” When I put it on I listen to it from start to finish. I still love to listen to the record.
Since we’re coming up on the end of the year, what was your favorite record from last year?
Edwards: Oh man, umm … I’m not so up with music. Shit. I’d have to say American Idiotby Green Day. Because A) the songs are very good, but most importantly B.) the production is incredible. The guitars just leap out at you. And it doesn’t sound like every other band that popped up after Green Day. Most bands after Green Day, like Blink 182, have this glossy, almost cheesy kind of sound, and not that I don’t like them or anything, but this record just sounds fucking angry.
The Darkness’ latest release, One Way Ticket To Hell…and Back is out now on Atlantic Records.