THE DARKNESS - Tarts But No Longer Upstarts
by Martin Popoff
The Darkness indeed have gone through hell making their second record One Way Ticket To Hell...And Back, switching bass players, fretting and worrying about their weird music, dealing with the insanity around their smash hit of a debut, Permission To Land.
But the new record's painstaking lushness caused its own problems. "One of the biggest challenges was finding the tape to record the f**king album," begins guitarist Dan Hawkins. "Basically, everything is digital these days, ProTools and hardware and all that stuff, and we - Roy Thomas Baker and the band - wanted to do everything to tape. And basically we had to find 52 reels of tape, and the two-inch tape factory shut down two months before we went into the studio. The studio was booked, everything was going ahead, and it was only two days before we went in that we actually managed to get the tape, and we found it with someone in New Jersey. 52 reels of two-inch tape. Eventually it would all end up on a computer to make it easier to edit, but basically everything went onto tape."
Roy Thomas Baker is of course most famous for his work with Queen, apt in his role with The Darkness, given that the band is often tagged as a cross between Queen and AC/DC, frosted with a certain ironic sense of humour.
"Roy was totally old school in his approach, really," adds new bassist Richie Edwards, previously Dan's guitar tech since August '03. "He was the first producer I had seen in a f**king long time right in there splicing tape, cutting drum loops together on a two-inch tape machine. And he was creating effects manually as well. The middle eight in 'Bald' where the guitar builds up and goes back into the riff, Roy had two knobs on a phasing unit. I was on one knob like this, and just sort of dialing it in as the track was going to just get it perfectly in synch. The other thing with Roy, a lot of technology that exists now, exists because of him. A lot of stuff he used to create, particularly when working with Queen... technology sort of caught up with them. Which is quite a bizarre thing really (laughs). But yes, he was totally old school, right up to, you know, ten days before recording even started, getting the drum sound right, moving microphones a couple inches here or there. His attention to detail was absolutely incredible."
THE DARKNESS - Tarts But No Longer Upstarts Page 2