The Darkness are currently on their Back to the USSA tour, and bassist Frankie Poullain took some time out to catch up with National Rock Review.
NRR: Congratulations on “Last of Our Kind” – It feels like The Darkness really hit their stride on this album. When you were in the studio did you get the feeling early that something special was happening?
Frankie: Before then really. It was all in the writing. The demos were really exciting, they captured a spirit of turmoil, upheaval and defiance as expressed by daft English cock rockers.
NRR: Do you have a favorite song on the album?
Frankie: In the end it’s “‘Barbarian” that’s impossible to argue with. It just bludgeons you into submission. It is ludicrous in every way but the guitar work is of an exceedingly high caliber.
NRR: Some of Dan’s riffs on this album are, in our opinion, some of the best The Darkness have come up with. Does the writing process always start with a riff that you then build from or is it more fluid than that? For example, can it sometimes start with an idea for a vocal line or some basic chords?
Frankie: Dan’s riffs on this album are immense and Justin married his unique energy and vision to them. Vintage Darkness.
NRR: You take the lead vocal for the first time on this album on â€˜Conquerors’. Have you always harbored a secret desire to be the front man?
Frankie: No. Never never ever. And even less so now. It was traumatic and turned me into a nervous wreck.
NRR: Is it daunting stepping up to the mic to sing after watching Justin do his thing in front of you?
Frankie: You have to believe in the song, sentiment and emotion so much that all other aspects recede into the background. Only then can you even attempt to deliver.
NRR: Being part of the rhythm section you’ve been put through the mill in respect of drummer changes with Emily leaving last year after recording the album and being replaced by Rufus. Despite the upheaval, it seems that you and Rufus locked into the groove immediately. Did you know the first time you played with him that he was the right guy for the job?
Frankie: Yes. It’s all in the attitude – he knows when to be a kid and when to be a man.
NRR: With the pure energy you guys throw out when on the stage, surely there are things that have gone wrong during a live show. We know that, on a previous trip to Chicago, Justin cracked a rib or two when leaping from a balcony. Have you ever suffered any Darkness related injuries?
Frankie: Swollen elbow joints and finger joints from time to time. Repetitive strain. Hearing loss too of course.
NRR: What does 2016 have in store for The Darkness. Are you already writing material for the next album?
Frankie: Yes we are writing and planning to record in the Autumn for an early 2017 release. This is going to be an ‘up’ album.
NRR: What has been your personal highlight of the current tour so far?
Frankie: I heard this morning that Prince died so it’s difficult to think of a highlight. A shadow has been cast. I hope this inspires us to give the best shows we’ve ever done.
NRR: You all have a very unique sense of style that has evolved over time. Is the band’s look meticulously planned or does it just come naturally to you all?
Frankie: It’s an intuitive, accidental and fun enterprise. Recently we have started mixing, matching, swapping and customizing our outfits. Our instincts get better with age, but it has to be a little ‘wrong’ for it to work if you catch my drift.
NRR: You were pretty open in your book â€˜Dancing in the Darkness’ about the ups and downs of life in The Darkness. How did the other guys in the band react to the book?
Frankie: It’s not fair on them in my opinion, it’s important to see things from other people’s perspective when you’re in a group.
NRR: Final question – There is a famous hot dog store near Wrigley Field in Chicago called the Weiner Circle that many people are scared to go in due to the staff viciously putting down and verbally abusing their customers. Which member of The Darkness would step up and go in to buy hot dogs for the band?
Frankie: I would love to! I really come into my own when people have a go at me, sometimes insults are more worthwhile than compliments. One man’s insult is another man’s compliment.
The Darkness’ Back to the USSA tour continues through till early May, including a return to the Chicago House of Blues. Be sure to check them out at a venue near you.
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