By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Propelled by tireless international touring, Permission was soon being embraced overseas, even seducing the vast U.S. market, where it breached Billboard’s Top 40 earlier this year in the wake of the radio hit “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.” When the Darkness were in L.A. last September, they played the cozy Roxy — seven months later, they’re doing two nights at Hollywood’s 1,300-capacity Henry Fonda Theater, having sold out the first show over a month in advance. No Brit hard-rock band has proved so exportable since the late-’80s Cult, and even they took three albums to break the States.
Asked if he believes Stateside Darkness domination is imminent, Dan doesn’t hesitate: “Yes I do! Not because you can sell millions of records there and become very rich, but because we’re a live band, and after everything’s said and done and the hype’s blown over, we’re a band that want to go out and play to as many people as possible. We should exist in the same arenas that Kiss, Aerosmith and AC/DC are in, but those bands are — not to be rude — I mean, they’re old, and we’re bringing something new and we’re taking a genre forward and we’re doing it in a totally fresh, new way. America’s a very important place for us, ’cause we feel like if we can capture the audience’s imaginations and make a stand, that’s basically going to support us for the rest of our career.”
Thing is, while the Darkness have tunes aplenty and oodles of tongue-in-cheek charm, there’s as yet little evidence that they are in fact pushing guitar-rock forward, or indeed anywhere. Though they sound fresh next to their new-millennium competition, they’re essentially an amalgam of 1970s sounds. Besides, it’s not clear that the audiences who’re filling arenas for Kiss, Aerosmith and AC/DC want the genre to develop. Those bands’ stylistic predictability is addictively reassuring, an unchanging anchor in aging lives. But the Darkness are smart to vigorously pursue overseas acceptance, as the notoriously fickle British music press will almost certainly turn on them when album No. 2 appears, and in that small market, three or four journalists can finish a band.
The future sound of the Darkness involves delving further — much further — into the past. Brace yourselves: “What we’re interested in is becoming medieval,” says Dan. “I’ve always wanted to do a double album, where one disc is the Darkness rocking as you know it, and the other is medieval folk-rock. I mean, ‘Black Shuck’ [Permission To Land’s opening track] is one of our [lyrically] medieval songs, and we’ve just recorded a new one, ‘Curse of the Tollund Man,’ for the B-side of our new single in Britain.” Dan also insists they’ll don period garb when performing these tunes.
So will it be arena adulation or puppet-show support slots for the Darkness in five years’ time? It doesn’t matter — they’ll deliver with the same single-minded fuck-you glee that is ultimately their lasting contribution to a business teetering on the cusp of oblivion.
The Darkness perform at the Henry Fonda Theater on Saturday and Sunday, April 17 and 18.