THE DARKNESS's JUSTIN HAWKINS talks about getting sober
In a new interview with Yahoo! Entertainment‘s Lyndsey Parker, THE DARKNESS frontman Justin Hawkins, who spiraled into a drug addiction nearly 20 years ago, was asked what the “rock-bottom moment” for him was that convinced him to finally turn things around. He responded: “I can’t talk about the rock-bottom moment. That would not be apt… Rock-bottom moments for people who are in recovery, I think… The people that know about that are the people that I was in therapy with, the group. But the thing about getting better and sort of turning it around is that it never comes from anything positive; it’s always something cataclysmically awful that you can’t (bear to talk about it). And it might be because of shame or because somebody’s physically hurt by something that’s your fault, (that you did) under the influence or whatever. The point I’m making is that it’s the darkest, darkest moment of my life, but it is also the time that probably saved my life. And I’ve never talked about it, and I never will.”
He continued: “I’ve been sober for… It’ll be 17 years soon. And if I’m honest about it, half of it is because I haven’t processed what happened… I like talking about it as an event, but I will never tell you what the event was. Please don’t take it personally, because nobody, nobody else knows about it.”
Hawkins also spoke in more general terms about his sobriety and how he has managed to keep from relapsing for so long.
“I’ve had periods of sobriety before — quite long ones, really,” Justin revealed. “But then nothing really bad happened. So it never seems that dangerous to go back. So then you go back, something bad happens and you stop. You go back, something bad happens and you stop. That’s how it works. One day something really fucking terrible happens, and you’re, like, ‘Okay,’ and you stop, and you don’t start again. And you hold on to that, and you almost revere that event because it’s the thing that keeps on the straight and narrow.”
“I never go into great detail about sobriety because it works differently for everybody,” he explained. “There’s certain things that you know that make it more manageable. Breaking it down on a daily basis and saying, ‘I’m not gonna drink today. I’m not gonna do any drugs today. Maybe tomorrow, but not today.’ And then tomorrow you do the same thing. And that’s kind of how people get through it sometimes. And there’s also support networks — AA, NA, all the rest of the As; there’s all that stuff available to you. But, really, the only thing that you have to do is prioritize the recovery. And if that means leaving the band that you’re famous for, if that means abandoning all of the relationships with people that you work with, you love, your family, your friends and everything, if you don’t make a sacrifice like that, you can’t expect it to hold. And whilst there are support groups available, it is a lonely journey. It takes years for you to start enjoying your life again. It took me at least six years before I started smiling. And that’s how it is. You don’t wake up one day and go, ‘I’m not gonna drink anymore.’ That day is when the work starts, and it is work, and you have to prioritize it. And it can be done. There’s a lot of people who have been sober for a really long time who were in much worse condition than me, and people have turned their lives around. And it’s doable.”
At the height of THE DARKNESS‘s fame between 2003 and 2006, Justin reportedly blew £150,000 on cocaine.
His addiction saw him checking into The Priory rehabilitation clinic, favored by celebrities trying to achieve sobriety or tranquility, to deal with his alcohol and substance abuse problems, which resulted in THE DARKNESS splitting up in 2006.
Among Justin‘s lowest moments was waking up in first class on a plane dressed in a fancy dress costume after wetting himself. His drug addiction also caused a rift between him and his brother, THE DARKNESS guitarist Dan Hawkins, after which they didn’t speak to each other for two years.
This year, THE DARKNESS — singer/guitarist Justin Hawkins, guitarist Dan Hawkins, bassist Frankie Poullain, drummer Rufus Taylor — will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album, “Permission To Land”, on the global “Permission To Land 20” tour, with North American dates kicking off on October 3 in San Francisco and wrapping on October 22 in Washington, D.C.
The shows promise to be a grand spectacle with the band playing the much-lauded, award-winning, foot-stomping, guitar-wailing, groove-making masterpiece in full. Kicking off with the splendid rifferama of “Black Shuck” they’ll blast their way through all of “Permission To Land”‘s eleven tracks, including “Growing On Me”, “Love Is Only A Feeling”, “Giving Up”, “Love On The Rocks With No Ice”, “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” and, of course, the iconic “I Believe In A Thing Called Love”.
In addition to “Permission To Land”‘s splendid confection of rock brilliance, the band will pump out a bonus “Best Of The Rest” set stuffed to the gills with all the hits and fan favorites from THE DARKNESS‘s six subsequent studio albums: “One Way Ticket To Hell…And Back”, “Hot Cakes”, “Last Of Our Kind”, “Pinewood Smile”, “Easter Is Cancelled” and “Motorheart”.
THE DARKNESS‘s latest album, “Motorheart”, came out in November 2021 via Cooking Vinyl.
Justin previously called “Motorheart” a good-time rock ‘n’ roll” LP without any blatant sociopolitical commentary.
“I didn’t want ‘Motorheart’ to be another ‘Easter Is Canceled’, our 2019 album where we’re sort of talking about the state of the world,” Hawkins told Billboard. “After having had a year and a half of torment and uncertainty and suffering with the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought our fans deserved to hear us having a good time again, like we did on our first record.”
THE DARKNESS‘s debut album, 2003’s “Permission To Land”, included the hit single “I Believe IN A Thing Called Love”, which reached No. 9 on Billboard‘s Alternative Airplay chart.
Hawkins performed a couple of VAN HALEN classics with Wolfgang Van Halen at the Taylor Hawkins tribute concerts in September. The two shows — in London and in Los Angeles — honored the FOO FIGHTERS drummer who passed away in March 2022.