2005 and all that

by Jo

2005.. year of the breakdown – dropping down into the darkness and pinging back up

It all started well enough, for them. A good rest over Christmas after that tour, and all the shit that goes with it. Literally.. lots of toilet paper used by band and entourage. Nasty.. Sixsister spent a lot of time recovering from the tour’s events.

Off to do some recording, starting at Dan’s pad, then in London, then Wales, where everyone ate too much, apparently. And made friends with the late Puma (see studio diary on darknessrock.com), a ginger cat with superb taste. The drums were all laid down first, Ed in the spotlight…

While all of us were happily contemplating the new album’s release, reassured by photos from the studio, dark doings were afoot. Some of us had had inklings of discord, given away by body language and various conversations. Frankie wasn’t happy. But, quite how unhappy, and the reactions to the cause of his disquiet, were not to become common knowledge for some time. Since then, of course, we’ve had many many words in the press, from Justin and Dan, with one or two from Frankie on his myspace page. Banging heads together seemed like a good thing to do.. still does.. but anyway. By then, Frankie was months gone, to be remembered by the faithful. Whatever happened, he was there at the beginning, and can’t be forgotten by the fans.

In the middle of all this (March) was a trip to play in Dubai, which was about as close to a summer festival as the boys got. Although idiot singers don’t tend to fall off inflatable donuts and hurt their ribs in festival fields.. although damaging ligaments whilst playing football with germans is possible. We had a review of that (gig).. And of the unveiling of Justin’s waxwork on his 30th birthday.

Dan, back home, is watching his band disintegrate, doing the recording, making the tea.. Justin effectively has left the band, thanks to his rift with a still present Frankie, and is concentrating on British Whale, his solo project. When he does finally get into the studio, he’s so impressed with Dan’s work that he decides he just HAS to stay.. but Frankie has to go for everyone’s sake. May 27, the fans are informed, It seems to have been a great relief all round… except for them, as hostilities break out on forum for some time, until a webbie-sized foot is put down. Two weeks later, Dan’s guitar tech Richie Edwards is shot into the limelight as the new bassist.. popular, funny and well liked, he’s the only choice for the boys. Oh, and he can play.. Things burst back into life, and there’s hard work all summer.

Justin’s solo single ‘This Town…’ is released in mid-August, whilst he and Dan are in LA with Roy Thomas Baker, mixing and producing and creating miracles in the middle of a powercut. He doesn’t do any promotion for it, because The Darkness are first and foremost. When Dan brings home that master copy, darklings sigh with relief, and start to get excited. Dates of singles and tours and album release start to emerge. Performances on TOTP and CD:UK are attended by the lucky, as well as a album preview.

Thousands of interview words spring up, and a lopsided picture of the split emerges (no story is ever told from just one angle). Besides, even the fans are sick of it now, and that the boys a re still being asked. Frankie holds his silence, for now. Please, can we just move on?

And as usual, reviews are wide ranging in their opinion, even amongst the fans. The sudden display of in-depth knowledge on instruments, recording, producing, marketing, promotion, band management and lyric writing is quite astounding in the world’s teenage population. The band and Sue must have been tearing their hair out as every small but vital error they made is ruthlessly exposed by experts masquerading as ordinary fans.

It is, however, a triumphant return. The year has been marred by who knows how many tears, tantrums, rehab, accidents, injuries… just on forum.

The Lords of Hell and Heaven know of the stresses and cracks and rebuilding that went on within the band. Each appears to have given their blessing. The promo photos have been a delight, they all look fantastic.. Justin looks much healthier than he has done, and happier.

Following on from the boys’ own album credits, ours are:

First and foremost, the fan’s champion Rob Shaw, for everything, above and beyond the call of duty. We salute you.

Sue Whitehouse, Gemma Shaw, Lucy Leigh, Katie Walker. We’d like to add our thanks to the boys’, because without your support, we’d be Darkness-less. Especially Katie, who probably has been a bit overwhelmed by hyper boy…

All those darklings who have amused us, inspired us, become our friends and stuck by us in our hour of need.

To those who have abused us.. our pity.

Richie, Ed, Justin and Dan… for the music, the wit, for bringing us all together, and for the nice photos to look at. Long may you rock, and the dark force be with you forever.

2006. It’s gonna be a good thing. ‘Is it Just Me?’ out on 20th Feb