“It always annoys me when I hear it used in lead work like that.”
The Darkness guitarist and vocalist Justin Hawkins said he’s no fan of the wah effect, explaining to Total Guitar Magazine during a recent interview:
“Quite honestly, it’s all in the fingers. I think using a wah makes me lazy as a player. It makes clumsily fretted notes sound more impressively struck than they really are and smudges a run to give the illusion that there’s more happening than there really is.
“It always annoys me when I hear it used in lead work like that. It’s supposed to add expression, but too many lead players use it to phone in shit solos.
“I’d rather take the time to get it right and was more influenced by guys like Brian May, Angus Young and Eddie Van Halen – as well as a guitarist called Dave Hawkins [no relation] who currently plays with Steve Harris in British Lion. He was a local player who I was massively impressed by as an adolescent man-child in Lowestoft. He made me realize that even if you come from a small town, if you have the talent you can still kick arse.”
Justin also noted during the rest of the chat:
“Less can be more… because more is too much sometimes. Except for maybe songs like ‘One Way Ticket to Hell (And Back),’ where we wanted to make a song about a South American product and doing it with some Asian flavors and middle Eastern vibes on a sitar sound. It was some English guys exploring… geographically and emotionally. Christ, there’s panpipes on that as well!
“But for the most part, I don’t know if we have enough technical wizardry to be able sustain it any longer than the flashes we already give. We’d probably get lost – I say we – I mean me. When Dan gets up to a certain part of the neck, he freezes and I have to talk him down!”
Mr. Hawkins also shared a few words of advice for all the musicians out there, saying:
“Reverential music is a waste of time. If anything, be irreverent and discard the things you love. Because if you truly love them, they will come back even if you try to resist and pursue something completely different. People are too afraid to try something new just in case it undermines their realness.
“If you want to be the next Queen, well… the last Queen was perfectly adequate. Even looking at just the singles, the amount of influences in the band, before you even get to the deeper cuts… there’s flamenco, all sorts of stuff in there. There are albums and albums of great music that is all the Queen we need. If you create something new, you’ll need to be informed about other things.
“Strive for the extraordinary instead of the ordinary, the unreal as opposed to the real, the irreverent over the reverent and shit hot instead of shit! It’s like having a 9-5 and you wear a black tie all day long – so then outside of those hours, you take the tie and turn it into a headband. It’s that principle.”