Many bands wear their influences on their sleeve, but Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins has his tattooed across his fist. As his long hands wind out of his fetching yellow blazer to rest on the table backstage at Download Festival, one's eyes can't help but be drawn to the inked-on silhouette faces of four quite distinct icons.
While The Darkness are very much a band on their own terms, they'd admit that they're driven by that same bravado and romance that made Queen much more than just a band, but just a spectacle - a celebration of life and a carnival of sheer and shameless entertainment.
We sat down with Justin and brother and guitarist Dan to talk through what it is that makes Queen so magic, Freddie Mercury so unforgettable and Adam Lambert such a worthy stand-in.
Gigwise: What do you think it is about Queen that has that enduring magic across so many decades?
Dan: I think it's that thing where you can't really pin them down, can you? There were four really great songwriters in that band, which is really unusual. It's just a virtuosity in every department - there's no one just towing the line in that band.
Justin: Queen is a supergroup, without trying to be a supergroup. If you really put your mind to it and try to create the greatest band ever, it would be on drums Roger Taylor, John Deacon on bass, you'd have Brian May on guitar and obviously Freddie Mercury would be your first choice singer. They are the ultimate band.
To front a band you need to embody a band and be all that they're about. What do you think it is about Freddie Mercury that sees him so often chosen as the greatest frontman of all time?
Justin: It's not just one thing - it's the warmth he has towards his audience, the sense of superiority, the peacocking, the costumes, the unbridled musical ability, the voice, as a lyricist he was amazing...
Dan: The way he moved around the stage was almost like he's 'allowed' you to watch what they're doing. Even when he appears to be trying to get the audience going, it's like he's 'letting' them get involved. I think people respond to that. They like to see that the person on stage doesn't really give a fuck. You've either got that or you haven't.
What do you make of them in their current incarnation with Adam Lambert?
Justin: I think Adam Lambert is a really talented man. His range is amazing, I worked with him on his first album and he's a really nice guy too. It's obvious that he was going to be the man to do it - from Brian May's reaction to hearing him sing on American Idol.
He just is himself and not trying to do a Freddie Mercury impersonation.
Justin: I think he's still working out who he is, as well. He looks more stud-y these days and has a bit of a George Michael image thing going on, which I think is good. He's evolving and changing stuff as he develops as a performer. I always watch Adam Lambert with interest and see where he's heading next. I think he's got a great rock voice, but some of his output has been too 'dance' for my personal tastes. I think there are a lot of fans who'd like to hear him do something more guitar-led and get some growl out of his vocal. The last time I worked with him, he was definitely interested in pursuing that. He's a very versatile performer. He's got a lot to offer.
The Last Of Our Kind by The Darkness is out now.
The Darkness' full list of UK and Ireland tour dates are below. For tickets and more information, visit here.
The Darkness will play:
4 July WICKLOW, Groove Festival (Ireland)
5 July WATERFORD, Daytripper Festival (Ireland)
12 July CHELMSFORD, Brownstock Festival
9 August NEWQUAY, Boardmasters Festival
30 August PORTSMOUTH, Victorious Festival
30 November NORWICH, Open
1 December CAMBRIDGE, Corn Exchange
2 December NOTTINGHAM, Rock City
4 December NEWCASTLE, O2 Academy
5 December GLASGOW, O2 Academy
9 December LEEDS, O2 Academy
10 December MANCHESTER, Academy
11 December BIRMINGHAM, O2 Academy
13 December BRISTOL, O2 Academy
14 December SOUTHAMPTON, O2 Guildhall
15 December BEXHILL, De La Warr Pavillion
17 December BOURNEMOUTH, O2 Academy
19 December OXFORD, O2 Academy
20 December LONDON, Roundhouse
Grab your copy of the Gigwise print magazine here.