The Darkness are one of the finest, most imaginative, and well oiled Rock N’ Roll machines to come out of Britain in the last 20 years. After forming in 2000, they have made an impact on rock music fans across the world with their Glam Rock/Hard Rock/Heavy Metal style and are still renowned as a band that took an older “classic rock” sound and made it new again and all their own. Having seen them perform live before, these guys never fail to put on a performance to remember, they bring a danger to their live performance that not many do right these days. They hit Perth shores next March, and I had the chance at a chinwag with their bass player Frankie Poullain about their new album, Easter Is Cancelled, the imagination behind their songwriting, his love for Perth and much more.
I’m glad that people recognise the imagination that goes into what we do.Frankie Poullain
Karlifornia: Hey Frankie how you been doing bro, what’s been keeping you busy?
Frankie: Good at moment, just having a little bit of downtime before the album comes out. And then we go on the Kiss Cruise in the Bahamas, and then we the head on with intensive rehearsing for the tour and then we start the tour in Ireland in November.
Karlifornia: I’ve heard some of the new album and man…. I have to say when I listen to your music; I think to myself that there’s so much imagination behind some of the songs, like ‘We Are The Guitar Men’ is absolutely mental. I just wondered to myself how you guys do it…. Like, what in the hell the songwriting process is like with a band like The Darkness?
Frankie: I’m really glad that you said that, that’s very nice! I’m glad that people recognise the imagination that goes into what we do. Especially on this album, we really wanted to challenge ourselves and push ourselves to create like a legacy defining album. Almost like a goodbye, you know in terms of conventional album making. We’re thinking that maybe the next time it will be a musical. Now we’ve done the concept album, now we need to do a musical. But in terms of the songwriting process, we just feel it. We don’t overthink it – the best songs come from that. The best music experience comes from when we’re just together in the same room and just letting it come out in an organic way, I guess tapping into some kind of collective consciousness. I guess you could say, right? Justin likens it to going fishing, you know, you need a lot of patience and you just leave your line in the water and then you zone out, you know, it’s like, you know, don’t push it too hard. Don’t want it too much. Don’t try too hard. Just let it let it come, you know, it’s about tapping into a kind of flow because there is a flow that is going on inside us when we’re in a good frame of mind. So most important thing is again, a good frame of mind.
Karlifornia: Yeah, right. Excellent, man. I mean if anyone can do a musical it would be the Darkness.
Frankie: Do you think so? Yeah, we might need a collaborator because there are certain rules and disciplines involved in writing a musical. So it might be the first one we actually undertake a collaboration of sorts, of course.
Karlifornia: Have you got a song off the new album that you’d pick as your favourite?
Frankie: Tough one, ‘Rock N Roll Deserves To Die’ is pretty special and think it has everything that The Darkness is all about in one song. It starts off as very downbeat and reverential and serious and ends up just going completely bonkers in the same song. So I’m quite proud of that one. I think that’s if you’re going to play one song to someone – Because of all our songs recently, this would be the one because it encompasses all the different aspects of what we do. The feel good AC/DC esque head down kind of stuff at the end. But then before that you got all of the Baroque kind of medieval kind of things that we sometimes delve into, the mandolins, and Justin goes from being very serious and heartfelt to mental, which is what people love about him. The fact that he doesn’t give a shit, that really is the important thing in a front man.
Karlifornia: I’ll tell you a little bit of a story from this past weekend. My band had played a gig and I had an after-party at my house afterward. And in the middle of the party, my friend Kevin said, you know everyone stop. I need to play this song. You need to hear the new Darkness single. And we all had to stop what we were doing. We sat down and we listen to this thing ‘Rock and Roll Deserves to Die’. And it was….. man. It was just a nice moment. And I thought maybe you’d like to know that on the other side of the world. Well, somebody stopped a party to let everyone know that they had to listen to this.
Frankie: Okay, can I say something, that’s one of the nicest things I’ve heard! It’s not even necessarily because it’s us, it’s just a fact that people still do that – people still will stop a party and people will still play such an importance on music because as we all know it’s been that down valued, because of the fact that it’s so readily available. People question the value of it. They just can’t help it, if you don’t really pay for something then you kind of tend to undervalue it, you know because of the fact that we’re living such a materialistic society. So anyway, come back to the original point. It’s great to hear that and I’m really touched. Thanks so much.
Karlifornia: That’s cool bro. So, I mean the song is called ‘Rock and Roll Deserves to Die’ some say rock and roll already has died. I don’t believe it for a second. What do you think?
Frankie: Not that we need to put pressure on ourselves, the reason we know that some use those words is because we were laying down the gauntlet; not just to other bands, but yourself and that’s what we do. That’s when the best artists material like swimmingly don’t govern to each other and to the band in general, you know, and we are to answer that, you know, so that puts pressure on the rest of the album which starts with that song. And then from then on I guess the next song is basically taking this breakup, you know heartbreak…. and then it’s a journey from the heartbreak to ‘Live Till I Die‘ I guess which is about Justin. Get back to school days and trying to work out what you know, how he got into it, you know, and then he talks about how he used to be bullied and he was a freak and he was different and he stuck with it, and then from then on … I won’t go through every song but from then on the its a journey up until ‘We Are The Guitar Men’, you know, which comes back to just a love of the guitar. It might sound cheesy, but really it’s like about man’s relationship with wood. Even the cover of our album depicts a crucifixion which uses wood as well, you know people used to use wood to execute people. Yeah, and then the creators of an integrated violence – classical music came from wood and then Rock came. And finally man’s sexual energy comes from wood of course.
Karlifornia: (laughs) Right on. What’s the your favourite thing about touring our country?
Frankie: Well, you probably won’t believe it when I say this, but I do love Perth. It’s really different. It’s got this vibe and a demographic and it’s just completely me. I mean the first time I went there, there was like a medieval festival going on the weekend. Yeah, and it was the men that reminded me of Scotland in the late 1970s. It was just like reckless and wild and everyone was just really up there having fun. I think there is quite a lot Scottish blood in Perth.
Karlifornia: Yep definitely a lot of Scots over here.
Frankie: The things that we’ve lost in Scotland, you know, Scotland is a bit of a depressed country these days, but in Perth the Scot’s were positive and up for it. It’s a really ‘up for it’ place and I loved it, it became mine. Just to say I’m not just saying this because you’re from Perth, but that is a great place. I know we don’t visit there all the time and I regret it. It’s the place that I find most interesting in Australia and most exciting now.
Karlifornia: That’s nice to hear because a lot of people that live here, because we’re so isolated from the rest of the country. They can get a bit fed up with Perth sometimes.
Frankie: I get you – I think I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be isolated from the Earth.
Karlifornia: What is the biggest thing you boys still have yet to accomplish, you know, is there something that you haven’t done yet aside from the musical, of course – that you know would be a goal in the future?
Frankie: Let me think about that. One collaboration. We haven’t had a collaboration; like a proper one, you know? So we did hang hang out with Ed Sheeran and a guy called Lewis Capaldi and supported them recently. Yeah, who knows and we did the same thing with Gaga too, we hung out with her and it was a potential to big things. You know, usually they just happen by accident. So it’s not something we’re really holding our breath for but really the thing is coming back to the things that we really want to accomplish is the musical. And it’s probably going to be about the collapse of the last of the fishing industry in Scotland because that’s where we all come from, you know, where the Hawkins Brothers and I come from. It’s fishing time with a heroin problem. There’s no fishing industry anymore. So basically, I guess in a way it’s about the fishing industry, the last remnants of it is really Birds Eye’ – this company that invented the fish finger. Glam Rock smacking fishing so that’s the musical.
Karlifornia: I look forward to hearing more about it in the future mate, and I wanted to thank you for your time today and speaking to me at the last minute, I really appreciate it.
Frankie: Not a problem buddy thank you, we’ll catch up in Perth.
I am certainly psyched to see The Darkness once again come next March. The new album is sounding terrific, the band is stronger than ever and I implore any rock fans out there to buy a ticket to their show for March 11th, 2020 at Metro’s Freo.
You can get tickets here.