The Darkness' guitarist Dan Hawkins says he had no idea how well he knew Kiss' music before seeing them live, and now considers them the "natural conclusion" of rock 'n' roll.

Hawkins' band, which exploded onto the scene with the 2003 hit "I Believe in a Thing Called Love," will appear as special guests on the upcoming Kiss Kruise. They'll be supporting their new album, Easter Is Cancelled.

Because they were born and raised in England, Hawkins and his brother and bandmate Justin "weren't really exposed to Kiss at all when we were younger. I certainly didn't know that I knew so many of their songs. Quite often you'll hear songs that you like in rock bars or clubs or the radio or whatever, you'll like it and you'll know that song, but you don't realize that was Kiss."

While seeing Kiss for the first time on their 2009 Sonic Boom Over Europe tour, Hawkins realized just how familiar he really was with their catalog. "I went along, knowing that Kiss was known for their stage shows," he tells UCR. "I'd heard 'Crazy Nights' and maybe their Top 3 hits. So I started watching the show ... and I knew every one of their songs! I couldn't really explain how, I couldn't tell you what the names were, but I knew them all. It was rock hit after rock hit."

Hawkins also became a full-fledged member of the Kiss Army that night. "The show absolutely blew my mind," he recalls. "As with all bands, when they're doing something great, it evokes a love or hate kind of [response]. I've found people either love or hate Kiss. After that show, I wondered, How can anyone not love this? This is the natural conclusion of rock. Everything that has been brought to the table to be used for rock 'n' roll, this is what it was for. The lasers going off, the guy flying up into the rig, the outfits, the enormous drum riser -- all of it."

He also see parallels between the two bands. "The brilliant thing that I love is that thing of them not taking themselves seriously, but also taking themselves deadly seriously at the same time," he explains. "It's tongue-in-cheek, but it's not a joke. I feel a kinship with that. That's how we've been received over the years, I think. There's a similar thing there, where people can't actually believe that we're serious musicians."

Watch the Darkness' 'Rock and Roll Deserves to Die' Video

So when the opportunity came up, the Darkness jumped at the chance to hit the high seas with Kiss. The ninth-annual theme cruise also includes Steven Adler, Warrant, Kiss' former guitarist Bruce Kulick and several other artists.

"I can't tell you how much I enjoyed that Kiss show, and I vowed to see them the next time I was not touring," Hawkins says. "I just enjoyed it so much. And now I get 'front-boat' seats. If you could choose your ultimate support slot, this would be it, no question!"

(A handful of cabins remain available for this year's Kiss Kruise, which departs from Miami on Oct. 30 and returns on Nov. 4 after visiting the Bahamas and Jamaica. You can get full information at TheKissKruise.)

A press release for Easter Is Cancelled notes that it's the Darkness' first-ever concept album, which is designed to examine "the role of the musician in the barbarous culture of the world today and their almost divine responsibility to challenge the establishment."

Hawkins confesses to being unaware of Kiss' only concept album, 1981's Music From the Elder. When informed of the record's labored conception and dubious reputation, his curiosity is peaked. "You're making me really, really want to hear that now," he says. "That's the next album I'm going to buy."



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