The Darkness Embraces Inner Quirkiness for New Augmented-Reality App
You may remember ’80s-inspired hair band The Darkness from the 2003 hit song “I Believe in a Thing Called Love,” which featured a music video of the band rolling around in skin-tight leotards. The band and song shot to fame — all without the help of viral-making machine YouTube, which didn’t come online until two years later.
Now, the band is back with its third album, “Hot Cakes,” and a quirky new augmented-reality app for iPhone and Android devices that uses image-recognition technology to unlock virtual band memorabilia.
The app is as unique as the band. From the platform’s welcome screen, users can access a collection of five-second audio clips, ranging from lead singer Justin Hawkins’s signature vocal wail to inappropriate catch phrases such as “Suck My C**k.” (Perfect for catching friends off guard?)
Meanwhile, the “The Darkness Scanner” allows users to hover phones over band-related artwork and tour posters to unlock hidden content. The technology is powered by image recognition company Aurasma. Other features include providing ticketing information, new videos and the ability to upload personal photos into the app by adding hashtag #TheDarkness directly to Instagram.
“We wanted it to be fun for fans and incorporate cutting-edge, face-recognition technology at the same time,” Hawkins told Mashable. “It looks great on mobile devices and people seem to really enjoy it, but would you believe I can’t get it on mine? I have a Windows phone, and the app shop there is still a mixed bag.”
The band — which will join Lady Gaga on the road for various upcoming tour dates — wants to create buzz by doing something different.
“Things that go viral just aren’t dull,” Hawkins said. “In the past, labels would tell you to make a music video because it was the thing to do and it had to be a big to get attention, but what takes off now are interesting concepts that come out of left-field. It’s more challenging for bands, and that’s a good thing because you have to think more creatively.”
Although “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” wasn’t uploaded to YouTube until 2008, it has still brought in more than 10 million views. But Hawkins is the first to admit that he isn’t the most tech-savvy person around.
“I recently killed off my personal Facebook page because I wasn’t going on that much and I was missing important things such as engagement party invitations and messages from my family,” Hawkins said. “All of my loved ones have my phone number, so they know where to reach me. But who knows, maybe I will miss Facebook and try again soon.”
“I’m not that into tech gadgets and tend to give up on some platforms, but I will try everything,” Hawkins said. “I’m just tech-skeptical. I loved Spotify, but I quit it after I had web connectivity issues. Actually, I haven’t given up on my Windows phone yet, so that is something!”
The Darkness will play its only two U.S. shows this fall on Sunday, October 21 in New York City and Wednesday, October 24 in Los Angeles.