Justin Hawkins apologises for swords on album cover
The Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins has told Sky News he apologises for the religious image of band members brandishing swords on the front cover of the band’s latest album.
Easter Is Cancelled, the chart-topping sixth album from the rock band, was released earlier this month, but came under fire for its artwork depicting the crucifixion.
In the image, Hawkins poses as Jesus Christ nailed to a cross, as brother and guitarist Dan Hawkins, bassist Frankie Poullain and drummer Rufus Taylor strike Roman guards with swords around him.
The cover was banned by streaming platforms in the Middle East and North Africa over its religious connotations, and also drew criticism online for the inclusion of the weapons in the image.
Asked about suggestions that the cover could be seen to glamorise knife violence – which has reached a record high in England and Wales – Hawkins told Sky News: “What we were trying to do was interfere with biblical iconography and the sources we studied to assemble that image was from hundreds of years ago.
“We didn’t recognise that it might be insensitive in the current climate. We saw it as something as escapism in talking about an imagined scenario from an alternate reality, and if we have offended anybody, all we can do is apologise.”
As the authorities struggle to find solutions to the increase in knife crime, Hawkins said there has to be underlining issues which are driving young people to carry weapons.
“So why has this person got a knife in the first place? Why have they taken it from their kitchen? Is it with a view to defend themselves or to attack somebody?
“There’s obviously a danger present in their daily existence which makes them feel like they need to be harmed. I think the problem is bigger than knives.”
Despite recognising the blade imagery may have caused offence, Hawkins said he would make no apologies for posing as Jesus on the cross.
“I play Jesus. Yes, that’s controversial, but then again Willem Defoe has played Jesus, no one gives him a hard time. We are not denying the existence of Jesus Christ.”
Hawkins also criticised social media, saying it forces people into trying to win the approval of others.
“I don’t think any good can come from social media,” he said. “I think it’s destroyed a lot of creative life. I deleted my Facebook and life has never felt so good. I think social media is the cause of so much problems in our day-to-day lives.”
Following line-up changes in the band and a stint in rehab for drug addiction, Hawkins said he is now in a good place as he prepares for a nationwide tour.
“I’m away from the edge, but you have to be somewhere near it to make rock n roll music,” he said. “But what you don’t want to be doing is having those dark thoughts, the ones that make you want to dive into the abyss.
“I’m enjoying my clean-living life.”