March 16, 2018 Interview – Frankie Poullain of The Darkness
Fifteen years have flown by since English Rockers The Darkness arrived, proudly showing off their throwback Rock-n-Roll formula on 2003’s mega-hit album, Permission To Land. Thanks to the quartet’s first blockbuster single, the irresistible “I Believe In A Thing Called Love,” The Darkness were soon graced by accolades at every turn. In essence, The Darkness personified a catchy and blissful Classic Rock sound which was overwhelmingly embraced at a time when music was ruled mostly by Pop and Nu Metal.
Following their sophomore effort, 2005’s One Way Ticket To Hell…And Back, The Darkness took some much-needed time to recharge their batteries before returning with utter resilience on 2012’s Hot Cakes, and later with 2015’s Last of Our Kind. Today, the core line-up of The Darkness – Justin Hawkins (vocals), Dan Hawkins (guitar), Frankie Poullain (bass), and Rufus Tiger Taylor (drums) – are back and better than ever on the heels of their fifth studio album, Pinewood Smile, released October 6, 2017. Looking forward to a big year in 2018, Poullain sat down to talk about the new record, the upcoming tour, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – On the heels of The Darkness’s highly-acclaimed fifth studio album, Pinewood Smile, was the creative process any different this time around in comparison to your previous recordings? Additionally, what was the inspiration for the album title Pinewood Smile?
Frankie Poullain – We still circle ’round the microphone, in the middle of the room, and take turns ‘Bono-ing’ as we call it; in other words, expressing ourselves on a nakedly emotional level but with meaningless, half-baked platitudes in place of proper lyrics. We do that over backing tracks that arrive through jamming or Dan’s extensive blockade of riffs. Justin then fine-tunes the melody and crafts a song invariably tinged with mischief.
The title refers to the British Hollywood, Pinewood Studios, synonymous with Roger Moore and Alfred Hitchcock.
CrypticRock.com – Now that sounds like a fun way to make music. The Darkness are well-known for clever and unique cover art, such as that on 2012’s Hot Cakes and your latest, Pinewood Smile. Is there one particular artist that is your go-to for album artwork?
Frankie Poullain – No we change from album to album. Luke Insect helped us with Pinewood Smile.
CrypticRock.com – Switching it up has certainly kept things diverse. The music of The Darkness never lacks lyrical content that is fun, meaningful, and true-to-life. During the writing process, from where does The Darkness draw inspiration?
Frankie Poullain – We egg each other on. Justin is in charge of lyrics but we contribute more these days. If one of us comes up with something inspiring lyrically, then we go with it if Justin believes in it. Justin and Ru riffed off each other lyrically on “Why Don’t The Beautiful Cry?.” And on “Stampede of Love” we all had fun seeing how far we could push that particular theme. It’s a heartfelt exchange between two people who love food as much as each other.
CrypticRock.com – Excellent! It is safe to say the energy The Darkness have in the studio has certainly translated into the music. The band did take a few years off and returned in 2011. What inspired the full-fledged return of The Darkness?
Frankie Poullain – The eternal lure of the happy ending. Friendship, brotherhood.
CrypticRock.com – Such a tight bond can withstand any challenge. Fans in North America are certainly excited for a chance to catch The Darkness on your upcoming tour beginning March 29th in Los Angeles, California. The Darkness are known for delivering a wild and entertaining show that embodies the true spirit of Rock-n-Roll. What can fans expect on the much-anticipated Tour de Prance?
Frankie Poullain – Four classic, old-school British men pouring their hearts into a pancake mix and serving them up with squirty cream and maple honey.
CrypticRock.com – Fans would be disappointed with anything less! Now speaking of the listeners, diehard fans can certainly get rowdy at a show, so in all your years of touring, what is the craziest thing you have seen a fan do?
Frankie Poullain – A guy launched himself over the crowd but no security caught him; he went flying into the concrete pit and, still high from adrenaline, held up his broken, dangling arm with an eerily-detached look on his face. It was primitive, fascinating and scary!
CrypticRock.com – Ouch that had to hurt! Would hate to know what it felt like when the adrenaline faded. If you could name one artist/band who has been the biggest influence on The Darkness in terms of writing and performing, who would it be?
Frankie Poullain – If it was only one I’d have to say Queen.
CrypticRock.com – And by far, Queen is one of the best ever! If you could play in any band, past or present, what band would it be?
Frankie Poullain – ’70s Marvin Gaye. Would have to study pretty hard though. Just to be on that stage and feel the crowd in that magical time, to be surrounded by those musicians would be sheer heaven.
CrypticRock.com – Great choice! If only we could travel back in time for one day that would be the experience of a lifetime. As a bassist, who would you note as your biggest musical influence?
Frankie Poullain – There is none, perhaps that explains my ‘style.’
CrypticRock.com –Perhaps it does; showing your individuality is so important. Lastly, CrypticRock covers all genres of music as well as Horror/Sci-Fi films. If you are a fan of these genres, what are some of your favorites?
Frankie Poullain – I love the British Writer J.G. Ballard. He wrote new wave of Science Fiction, post-apocalyptic novels with surreal themes.