As Justin Hawkins returns with new band Hot Leg, Kevin Boyle tries to find out whether or not this is merely a reincarnation of The Darkness.
IT SEEMS ONLY yesterday that The Darkness were to be found plugging their nostalgic brand of rock on our radios and TV screens, savouring the attention that the lucrative single ‘I Believe In a Thing Called Love’ had brought them. But such success was to be short lived, as the group’s second album, One Way Ticket to Hell… And Back, claimed only modest chart positions and seemed to reflect that the public had grown tired of high pitched wails and skin tight cat suits.
Justin Hawkins’ departure from the band soon followed and his highly publicised drink and drug problems seemed to have registered him a spent force in the music industry.
But in 2009 we could be about to see a lot more of Hawkins, as his new group Hot Leg release their debut album, Red Light Fever. Though he has never appeared as one suffering from self-doubt, Hawkins does seem to be particularly confident about the band’s potential.
“It’s like the Darkness, only tighter, more focused and just better. The song writing is the best of my career and the band that I’m playing with at the moment are superior players.”
“We play what is essentially a musical distillation of being a man”
Though that assertion may not allay all concerns, the band’s releases so far have certainly been instrumentally impressive. Hawkins labels Hot Leg’s brand of music as ‘man rock’.
“It’s a combination of peacock rock, Eighties rock and Seventies rock done in a really puffy chested, mega-manly way. We play what is essentially a musical distillation of being a man.”
This feat will be made all the more impressive given the fact that it will be performed by a long haired, feminine-voiced front man clad in spandex. Man rock was a label undertaken as a reaction to the term ‘glam rock’, which Justin felt cheapened their music.
“Glam isn’t what we do, we’re not Garry Glitter. That’s not the type of music we play”.
Having derived inspiration from the likes of Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin, Hot Leg have borrowed many characteristics when creating their sound, from Joe Perry’s guitar style to Robert Plant’s high reaching vocals.
It is easy to debunk bands that are as unashamedly flamboyant as Hot Leg. But Hawkins appears to be fully aware of how the band is perceived and thrives on the fact that this style of music is not to everybody’s taste.
“We want to divide people. We don’t want people to think we are just ok. We want people to hate it as much as we do like it.”
And this mindset is only encouraged by the moniker of the band, which Hawkins brands as, “Simultaneously the worst and best name ever.”
Hot Leg play The Village on Friday, 27th February and have vowed to leave an impression on Dublin.“It’s going to be man rock in small places being played very well. It is a special time for everybody.”
It is clear that Hot Leg makes no apologies for the over the top, old-fashioned approach to music that they take. Only time will tell whether they are destined to achieve a fleeting success similar to that enjoyed by The Darkness, or if the retro revolution has finally run its course.
See Hot Leg in The Village on 27th of February.