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My Favourite Things: The stuff Justin Hawkins can’t live without

Justin Hawkins
(Image credit: Future)

Has Justin Hawkins achieved National Treasure status yet and, if not, who do we have to speak to and how do we nominate him?

If it wasn’t enough being the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for The Darkness (and, to be frank, it is enough), Hawkins is one of the greatest rock performers of his era, a man who has ridden giant tigers over Wembley and been carried to the heavens on a boob chariot (NB: not a metaphor). 

Now Hawkins has built an island of joy in YouTube's ocean of wankers with his channel/vodcast/show Justin Hawkins Rides Again in which he lovingly dissects new and classic rock.

Yeah, lovingly. The cunning captions under each episode bait you with controversy (“I’m sorry, it’s just shit” (opens in new tab) etc) but Hawkins is mostly generous and thoughtful towards his subjects, when he’s not effortlessly pulling apart their chord changes, praising their hooks and lauding their woh-ohs – ie explaining how the music you love actually works. And he does all that while dressed in a series of increasingly mad/stylish outfits. It's the best thing on telly that's-not-actually-on-telly.

What's that? You want to breathe the same air as the man? Result: The Darkness are combining forces with Black Stone Cherry for a recently announced co-headline UK arena tour in Jan/Feb 2023. Supported by the mighty Danko Jones, it’ll be more fun than a bumpy ride in a boob chariot.

But we're not here to talk about boobs. We're here to ask Justin Hawkins about the things he can’t live without. So c'mon, follow me! (Just scroll down a bit, numbnuts.)

PODCASTING

Shure SM7B

(Image credit: Shure)

Shure SM7B microphone

"For Justin Hawkins Rides Again, I use a Shure SM7B mic. It goes into a Rode Rodecaster Pro podcast mixer (opens in new tab). It's got lots of compression and stuff on it, and it's pretty directional. It gives my voice a lovely warm timbre that warms the cockles of my listenership."

Buy: Shure SM7B (opens in new tab), £389/$399

Guitar

Gibson Songwriter acoustic guitar

Gibson Songwriter guitar (Image credit: Gibson)

Gibson Songwriter acoustic

"What guitar do I play my theme song on? I actually have two acoustics at my disposal. One of them is a really cool Gibson Songwriter. That's the one that sounds amazing. I've got another one that plays really great, but doesn't have the same sort of warmth to it per se. It's actually really good Ibanez acoustic, which is a new one. But generally I use the Gibson."

Buy: Gibson Songwriter Standard (opens in new tab), from £2,599/$3,149

TRAVEL

Chanel L’eau de Mousse Water-To-Foam Cleanser

(Image credit: Chanel)

Powder-to-foam cleanser

"What are the essential things I take when I travel? There’s a face washing solution that I just think is the most ingenious thing. You know how you can only have a limited amount of liquids when you're getting on a plane? Well, I use a powder that you add water to. 

"What kind is it? If I told you I would have to kill you. I can’t have everyone looking as fresh-faced as I do! People would stop saying [excited voice], ‘Oh, your skin's amazing’. They would just say [bored voice], ‘Oh, your skin's average’.” 

(We reached out to an expert: Fiona McKim, Beauty Editor of Woman & Home recommends Chanel’s powder-to-foam cleanser: “It has super-fine particles,” she says, “that transform into a light and refreshing lather without being gritty or leaving your skin feeling ‘scrubbed’. I'm also very impressed that Justin Hawkins has such a good skincare routine!”)

Buy: Chanel L’eau de Mousse Water-To-Foam Cleanser, £40/$50

ALBUM

Easter Is Cancelled album art

(Image credit: The Darkness)

Easter Is Cancelled By The Darkness

"If I had to recommend one album of ours, it'd probably be (2019's) Easter Is Cancelled. It's a really, really personal record but it's got some global themes that became almost prophetic when Covid happened. Some of the things I'm saying in there really could have been interpreted as conspiracy theory madness until that happened. I don't even know why I was writing about these things. It was just stuff that I was feeling. And then it all unfolded in that horrible way. Easter actually was cancelled."

Buy: Easter Is Cancelled from Amazon (opens in new tab)

BOOK

The Woman In Black book cover

(Image credit: Amazon)

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

"Non-fiction, I like Hold On To Your Kids (opens in new tab), the Gabor Maté book. I think it's got some really interesting stuff to say about the nature of peer pressure and some great guidance for people who are trying to parent in difficult circumstances. 

"My favourite book from when I was a kid is The Woman In Black. I feel like the movie adaptation with Daniel Radcliffe was – I mean, massive respect to all the actors and people that took part – but the ending is just fucking stupid. Like, there's no world in which Susan Hill made the main character turn into a ghosty at the end. It's just ridiculous. But the book itself is really, really haunting. 

"I also like The Ocean At The End of the Lane (opens in new tab), the Neil Gaiman book. That’s really, really dark. And I need to see the theatre version of that, because I've heard a lot of great things about the production."

Buy: The Woman In Black from Amazon (opens in new tab)

Music streaming

Spotify

(Image credit: Getty)

Spotify

"I use Spotify because it talks to the Naim stereo system that I have at home. It’ll stream stuff in its own right: I don't have to Bluetooth anything, which I think probably creates a loss of quality. It's really handy as well, because I'm trying to help my daughter to curate her tastes. I try to not dictate what's good and what's bad and what I think she should be listening to. She has access to my Spotify account and I can just add songs as she hears them and likes them."

Sign up: Try Spotify free for 7 days, then from £/$9.99 per month

HI-FI

Naim Mu-so II

(Image credit: Naim)

Naim Mu-so II

"I have the Naim Mu-so II. Weirdly, my house got struck by lightning and it blew up. So at the moment it's being repaired by Naim. I really miss it. I listen to music every day and it’s a great system. If you're gonna listen to something, you better listen to it in all its glory. 

"I like to listen to the production of things, you know? I'm interested in the way instruments interact, and not just the way melodies and chords relate to one another – I also want to hear what the bass player is up to. And wherever possible, some sort of separation in the guitar. So I think some sort of high fidelity listening system is essential if you actually want to hear music in that way."

Buy: Naim Mu-So II (opens in new tab), £1,449/$1,799

TV STREAMING

Disney+ logo

(Image credit: Disney)

Disney+

"I don't watch TV really, mostly because I live in Switzerland and it’s all in funny-talk language. I have Disney+ but mostly I use it for kids programmes. I like watching movies with my daughter, it's more for her really. I did watch the Get Back documentary. I thought it was brilliant.

"I loved watching those relationships unfold. It’s impossible to watch it and not think about which one of The Beatles you relate to the most. I thought it was going to be Paul McCartney, but in the end I felt like – just because of the sheer amount of pissing about and fascination with a paramour – I'm gonna have to go for John Lennon. My hair is the same colour as Lennon’s as well.

"There's a lot of interesting stuff. They don't talk about it or anything but Yoko was around a lot because she’d just had a quite late-term miscarriage. So I think Lennon was being a really supportive partner. He had to go into the studio, but he did it on the understanding that he could bring her with him. I really respect that. 

"She gets a lot of shit. I mean, can you imagine being her? The amount of stuff that she's alleged to be responsible for, culturally. It’s just insane, the burden that has been forced upon her by huge numbers of ignorant people."

Try Disney+ (opens in new tab), £/$7.99 per month

Pre-gig ritual

Lax vox

(Image credit: Amazon)

Lax-Vox

"I don’t eat 24 hours before a show and I use a Lax Vox vocal warmup technique [Lax Vox is a series of techniques to warm up and relax the chest, throat and vocal cords through blowing bubbles into a tube]. I do a five minute exercise, followed by another five minute exercise – all kinds of stuff.

"There's nothing you can really do to prepare yourself for the adrenaline and how you're going to screech in the first song anyway, so all you can do is make sure you’ve limbered up. It's just physical stuff. Where the Adam's Apple is, and the stuff that the vocal cords are mounted on: it’s all the muscles around there that you've got to look after."

Buy: Lax Vox vocal tube from Amazon (opens in new tab)

DRINK

Kombucha

(Image credit: Getty)

Kombucha

"I'm really, really interested in Kombucha. I like anything that sort of tastes a bit vinegary. It’s like fish and chips, I suppose. But in drink form. Fizzy fish and chips. Delicious."

Buy: Remedy Raw Kombucha tea from Amazon (opens in new tab) from £26.99/$39.99

Fashion

Saint Laurent

Artist Langley Fox, in Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane, 2016, at the Saint Laurent Los Angeles show (Image credit: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images)

"I often look in the mirror and I’m head to foot in Angela Bright designs (opens in new tab). She’s a clothing designer from Canada. She makes a lot of my stagewear now. And most of the things I wear when I'm not on stage. Every time I get parcel in the post, I know it's something from her. I pay her a retainer – it's like a subscription service. 

"When I'm on stage, I wear a pair of cowboy boots by Saint Laurent. I really like this designer, Hedi Slimane (opens in new tab). He made brilliant clothes for Dior and then went onto Saint Laurent, then onto Celine (opens in new tab). He was also a photographer and really interested in rock stuff. The silhouette that he created for menswear – for musicians of a certain rock’n’roll sphere – he’s really good at sort of telling guys like us what to wear. And his footwear is great, lasts forever, and it's just really comfortable and stylish. 

"Another guy I really like is an Austrian designer who only really makes clothes when he feels like it. I really like his boots, his shoes, and his name is Carol Christian Poell (opens in new tab)

"When I was first in bands and I was like 15, there was a shop in Lowestoft called Wicked Wardrobe, and it was all sort of vintage stuff and tie dye things. My mum used to take me there because she was saying, ‘You've got to wear something that makes you stand out’. 

"My mum used to hang around in London in the 60s. She’s got some brilliant rock’n’roll stories about the Krays and their associates, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix. She moved in some really interesting circles. And she told me a story about how Brian Jones turned up at a disco once in a pink catsuit and the attention that he was getting. She was always instilling this vision of the archetypal rock bloke wearing a catsuit. So as soon as I had a chance to do it, that's what I wanted to wear, you know?

"I like getting up people's noses. You’re better off dividing people. If you're not doing something that inspires some sort of reaction, whether it's good or bad, then you're probably not doing anything important."

Buy: Yves Saint Laurent Boots at FarFetch (opens in new tab), from £740

The Darkness and Black Stone Cherry tour the UK in Jan/Feb 2023.

Scott Rowley
Scott Rowley

Scott is the Content Director of Music at Future plc, responsible for the editorial strategy for online and print brands like Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog, Guitarist, Guitar World, Guitar Player, Total Guitar etc. He was Editor in Chief of Classic Rock magazine for 10 years and Editor of Total Guitar for 4 years and has contributed to The Big Issue, Esquire and more. Scott wrote chapters for two of legendary sleeve designer Storm Thorgerson's books (For The Love Of Vinyl (opens in new tab), 2009, and Gathering Storm (opens in new tab), 2015). He regularly appears on Classic Rock’s podcast, The 20 Million Club (opens in new tab), and was the writer/researcher on 2017’s Mick Ronson documentary Beside Bowie (opens in new tab)