A chat with our man in Norway:
OI: Do you remember your first encounter with The Darkness clearly, or is it a blur?
Benny: I clearly remember sitting in the back seat of our car listening to PTL right after my dad bought it, but before that, I remember seeing the IBIATCL music video on TV a couple of times. I was very young at the moment, so I kind of mixed up The Darkness and Queen because of Justin’s voice.
OI: Did you have to stop and look again at that video?
Benny: It was showing on some kind of video jukebox on TV, so I basically had that on in the background while doing other stuff, but I was absolutely stunned by the long haired man’s high voice, so I had to watch the video. I liked how that video was totally different than anything else, and how goofy it was with the huge obviously fake alien creature. It was rather amusing!
OI: I think it was a lot of people’s first experience! I know I went looking round the music channels to see it again. Was that song causing a stir there, like here?
Benny: Yeah, absolutely! It was a huge hit and was showing quite often on that video jukebox and was probably played a lot on the radio too. I didn’t listen to radio at the time, but I assume it was. If you ask the average Joe on the street in 2013 if he has heard of The Darkness, you’ll most likely get “Oh, they were the band that did I Believe In A Thing Called Love, weren’t they?” as an answer.
OI: Always nice to know! Here, the other videos, for GYHOMW and GOM were showing a lot too. Did they surface there too?
Benny: I don’t remember those being shown in Norway, but Love Is Only a Feeling was on TV for a while. I think IBIATCL was the song and video that was most popular and got the most attention here around the release of PTL .
OI: You said your dad bought it – was it on non-stop the moment he got it out of the shop?
Benny: He put it in the CD player in the car as soon as we were out of the shop, but my mom wasn’t too happy about that. I remember telling my dad to turn up the volume while Black Shuck was playing, and my mom just sighed and complained.
OI: Whilst the two of you were headbanging madly? What struck you about it right from that drive home?
Benny: Oh, definitely! I grew up listening to my dad’s old Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick, Elvis and The Who records, so to listen to that hard rocking masterpiece at the age of 8 really rocked my foundations! I think that was the main thing that struck me – just the fact that I had never heard anything that hard before. Swearing was also new to me, so when listening to GYHOMW, my dad made up new words for me to sing: “Get your hands off my woman, feather plucker!”
OI: Responsible parenting. And that was that. A lifetime (well, to 18 so far) love affair with the band. Did their image mean a lot to you, back then? Or does spandex not register with an 8 year old?
Benny: I really liked looking through the pictures in the booklet, and I especially liked the little kids dressed up as the band, so the image certainly caught my attention. I think Frankie’s moustache and Justin’s cat suits caught most of my attention, though
OI: Not much new there then! Do you have a favourite track? Has that changed as you’ve got older?
Benny: My favorite tracks on that album has always leaned towards the first half of the album, since I always started listening from the beginning and didn’t always finish the whole album. I loved LIOAF, GOM and Black Shuck a lot when I was younger, but now I have realized that GYHOMW is one of the most awesome songs ever to be made. So, GYHOMW and GOM are the ones I listen to the most as of today. Not that I DON’T like LIOAF, GOM or Black Shuck anymore – I love the whole album.
OI: The lyrics are engraved on your brain, right?
Benny: Of course! I know the lyrics, but sometimes I just sing along like I used to when I was little, making up random words that don’t exist, but sound like the real words, haha! However, when the chorus kicks in, lord have mercy on me, because I will belt out those bad words like there’s no tomorrow!
OI: That’s the point when the cat runs away in this house! Compared to other music there at the time, were there any rivals, or did TD destroy all the opposition?
Benny: I remember the Moldovan pop group ‘O-zone’ being quite popular around 2002-2004, but more in a sarcastic way, even though everybody had ‘Dragostea din tei’ as their ringtone on their cell. Rock music never caught on like pop music did, but personally, I can’t remember any other popular rock groups at the time having such a hit in Norway like The Darkness did.
OI: Is that still the case? Has Norway caught on to rock music yet, or were TD the only rock brilliance likely to happen there?
Benny: I think The Darkness were the wakeup call everybody needed, because you can find different styles of rock music being popular in all kinds of groups of people. Coldplay and Mumford & Sons are very popular amongst the general public. Not that they are as hard rocking as The Darkness, but it’s far away from O-zone or Britney Spears!
OI: Umm… well, they’re all in the same trash can for me, I guess!
OI: Can you say, then, that The Darkness truly changed things for you?
Benny: (I’m not a part of the general public, though) They not only changed things for me, but the STARTED things for me. They were the first real hard rock band that I listened to besides old bands like Alice Cooper, The Who, Cheap Trick etc. It was like The Darkness was MY band, and not something my dad had exposed me to through my childhood. If it wasn’t for The Darkness, I have no idea what kind of person I would be today.
Benny: The Darkness was my gateway to the music I listen to today.
OI: And all because of one small collection of most excellent tunes. Do you have an Anniversary message for the band?
Benny: You could say that Permission To Land was my generations answer to Appetite for Destruction. Happy Anniversary, boys. Nothing made me happier than seeing you come together again in 2011 so we could celebrate as the original The Darkness on the special day. Thank you for changing my life and giving me so many good memories that I will have with me for the rest of my life. Permission To Land is hands down one of the five greatest albums ever to be released, and the b-sides are no less than perfect. I am proud to be a Darkling!
OI: That covers everything! Thanks, Ben. I hope you see them many more times.