“It’s the best front-end amp pedal I’ve ever heard”: Justin and Dan Hawkins have launched their own pedal brand – and its first stompbox is based on their tones from The Darkness’s debut album

Justin Hawkins (front, center) and Dan Hawkins (background, left)
(Image credit: Steve Jennings/Getty Images)

The Darkness' guitar duo, Justin and Dan Hawkins, have launched the Permission to Land overdrive pedal – a twofer stompbox that officially debuts the pair’s own effects pedal company, Hawkins Brothers Audio.

Named after the band’s debut studio album from 2003 and inspired by the electric guitar tones the pair utilized throughout the record, the Permission to Land pedal was showcased in the latest issue of Total Guitar, which also spoke to the siblings about their new gear venture.

After being put in touch with both David Karon of Distortion Inc. and Kirk Hammett co-owned company KHDK, the Hawkins duo were approached with the idea of a signature guitar pedal.

The Darkness guitar tech Ian ‘Softy’ Norfolk was then brought on board to help put together the Permission to Land pedal, which specifically sought to provide the distinct tones that each player utilized on the album.

After receiving a number of prototypes for the gain stages and having “plenty of opportunity to test everything out” with a number of amp combinations, the pedal was pieced together with custom artwork designed by Chiara Mazzoni.

Hawkins Brothers Audio's Permission to Land pedal

(Image credit: Hawkins Brothers Audio)

“The idea of it was to simulate the sounds from Permission To Land,” Justin explained to TG. “There are two different sides, there’s the Dan side and then my side, which was really important. It needed to have not just one but both of our sounds built in.”

To that end, Dan added, “That was the gist, to get all of the sounds from our first album out of one pedal. As well as helping people mimic our sounds, it had to be good enough to go beyond that and become its own thing too.”

In practice, the Permission to Land features dual paths for each of the player’s sounds – one distorted and high-gain for Justin, another for Dan’s amp-like crunch – which can be isolated or blended together.

The independent volume controls for each effect are joined by shared Gain and Master knobs, as well as a universal three-band EQ. A footswitchable Solo Mode with a secondary Gain parameter, as well as a true bypass footswitch, also make the cut.

Intriguingly, there’s also a toggle Lo Fi switch attached to the top of the pedal. Said to introduce a filter effect, the LoFi voice “adds a touch of nostalgia by emulating the sound of old vintage radios.”

The results? Well, according to Dan, it’s “the best front-end amp pedal I’ve ever heard”: “Now I can turn up to any gig, get given any kind of clean Fender or Vox amp and still have my main sound sorted through just one pedal,” he said.

Justin was equally enthusiastic about the Permission to Land: “It sounds exactly like our first album, which is probably the album I’m most proud of! Honestly, when it comes to rock guitar tones, I have to say this thing is seriously phenomenal.”

The limited-edition Permission to Land pedal is available now for $249.

Visit Hawkins Brothers Audio for more on the pedal, and head over to Magazines Direct to pick up the latest issue of Total Guitar.

The Hawkins duo are merely the latest guitarists to break into the pedal market. Last month, Mark Tremonti revealed he was starting a brand of his own, and that he was “going after the Klon.”

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.

With contributions from