EXCLUSIVE: The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins, 47, reveals he’s swapped his drug-taking rock excesses to become a married vegan father-of-one who lives a quiet life in rural Switzerland
He famously spent £150k of his estimated £6m fortune on cocaine, living a life of excess which caused him to quit band The Darkness in 2006, and go into recovery.
But rock star Justin Hawkins, 47, exclusively told MailOnline on Tuesday that he’s now a happy vegan, married, father-of-one living a quiet life in rural Switzerland.
Catching up at London’s Hard Rock Hotel to promote a new UK tour which sees the band co-headlining with Black Stone Cherry, the group seem happier than ever.
EXCLUSIVE: The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins, 47, reveals he’s swapped his drug-taking rock musician excesses to become a vegan father-of-one who lives a quiet life in rural Switzerland – (pictured with his wife, Sarah, in 2010)
Changed for the better: He famously spent £150k cocaine, living a life of excess which caused him to quit his band, The Darkness in 2006, and go into recovery, (pictured in 2017, six years after they reunited)
There’s not a catsuit in sight on the flamboyant frontman, but Justin looks trendy and relaxed in a patterned shirt, khaki cropped trousers and red leather shoes, sporting a hat – a shorter crop of that famous long hair – and a moustache.
He said that during lockdown he kept busy teaching himself to play slide guitar ‘for several hours a day’ but wishes he learned to play piano and perhaps the language of the country he now lives in – Switzerland.
Married to Sarah Hawkins, with whom he shares a daughter, eight, whose name has not been revealed publicly, he said: ‘They’re the reason I live there, [because that’s where his family live].
‘I live in quite a rural part so the only time I am in contact with anyone English speaking folk is when I see my daughter.
‘So those times are really important to me. I always block out her birthday in the calendar.’
Happy: Justin (bottom row, second from left), and the rest of The Darkness are co-headlinng a UK tour with rock band Black Stone Cherry – both bands pictured in London on Tuesday
In fact, Justin said was delighted when he was eliminated from The Masked Singer – in which he appeared as The Chameleon, in 2020, just two weeks into the series, because he would have missed his daughter’s birthday otherwise, because he would have to have remained in the UK to film.
Justin lights up when talking about his little girl, who has never been pictured.
He said: ‘She thinks I am cool, for now. I’ve got another year or so before that wears off I think.
‘I’m looking forward to the hormones kicking in. The times when she is rebellious, I quite enjoy those really.
‘It’s difficult for dads, especially absent dads, [because he is often on tour]. I think the rebellion that occurs,,, I don’t think I’ll get the full brunt of it really. If anything I’ve encouraged it.’
He’s still found ways to spend his royalties from hits like I Believe in a Thing Called Love and Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End) and spilled that he has bought a garish bespoke water feature.
He said: ‘It comes with a marble statue of myself as the Belgian urinating boy, which I keep in my front garden.
‘I often pose in front of it and startle the neighbours by moving when they least expect it.’
While the band are having harmonious times now – Justin has previously admitted he didn’t really speak to his brother Dan, 45, who plays guitar, for two years after he quit the band in 2006, shortly after he entered rehab.
They got back together in 2011 and appear to be better than ever – and Dan said that they have a stronger approach to mental health this time around.
He said: ‘I think it’s acceptable to say no to things now. In the past, you were expected to do anything and everything – and answer everything – and that’s not necessarily the case now.
‘It’s OK to say no and look after yourself.’
‘It’s going to be bats**t crazy’: Post pandemic, the band are now looking forward to playing arenas and experimenting with bigger productions with a list of new dates announced
Bass player Frankie Poullain, 55, added: ‘The biggest test for us was, we had seven weeks on a US tour – but it wasn’t just that, it was seven weeks with huge distances.
‘17000 miles over seven weeks, not including the plane flights and three buses breaking down… having to change buses constantly.
‘There was a crazy heatwave in the south and then in the north, in Canada. freezing.
‘And also, just being away from our families and loved ones, that was a test for all of us, by week six, it was quite funny, just watching us lose our s**t in all sorts of different ways.’
Post pandemic, the band are now looking forward to playing arenas and experimenting with bigger productions.
Dan said: ‘It’s going to be bats*** crazy, but I am not giving too much away. We had only just started playing arenas before we split up so this is going to be bigger and better.’
Their latest album, Motorheart, released in 2021 is upbeat for a reason.
Justin said: ‘We didn’t want it to be informed by the Covid experience at all. We needed it to be an escape.
‘We are The Darkness – no one wants to hear us moaning.’
The Darkness and Black Stone Cherry have announced a co-headline UK tour for 2023. Tickets go on sale on June 24 at 10am. Visit www.livenationentertainment.com for more information.
Surprise! Justin said he was glad to leave The Masked Singer in the second week of the show back in 2020 as it meant he didn’t miss his daughter’s birthday – she lives in Switzerland