It wasn't enough to sound like Queen -- for their second album, One Way Ticket to Hell . . . and Back, due November 29th, the Darkness teamed with Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker. They even recorded some of the disc at Rockfield Studios in Wales, where Freddie Mercury and Co. cut "Bohemian Rhapsody."
The ten tracks continue in the anthemic head-banging vein of the fabulously trashy Permission to Land -- which sold 3.5 million copies worldwide -- recalling the Eighties hair-metal excesses of Def Leppard and Whitesnake.
The album's first single, "One Way Ticket," features a pan-flute intro immediately followed by the distinct sound of someone cutting up and snorting a line of cocaine. "It's a song of redemption, really," says singer Justin Hawkins, who spent part of last year in rehab. "It talks about drugs, the inevitable downward slide into hell, and how it's never too late to turn back."
Other tracks include the "massive cock-rock epic" "Bald" -- about premature hair loss. "The irony of it is that it's a super-powerful song about losing your virility," laughs Hawkins. And then there's the sentimental ditty "Dinner Lady Arms." "That's just a sweet story about an elderly couple who get back together after a long time," he explains. "I suppose it's an English thing, 'dinner lady arms,' but the lady who serves you lunch at school tends to have these flaps of skin on the underside of her arms. And the song also talks about the man being bald and sullen -- so it's about finding something that you're attracted to that doesn't age, you know?"
As for teaming with producer Baker, the band could not have been happier. "He was right on the money. Bang on the money," says Hawkins. "He's brilliant, with a fantastic ear, and I don't ever want to work with another producer. He's hilariously wonderful, and he drank a lot of champagne and made us laugh."