Almost 15 years ago in 2003, the Darkness made a global impact with its debut album Permission to Land, which sold over 1.5 million albums in the U.K. alone. “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” was a phenomenon, alongside other hit singles like “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” and “Growing on Me,” as the Darkness earned three BRIT Awards, two Kerrang Awards, and an Ivor Novello honor. The second Darkness album, One Way Ticket To Hell… And Back, proved that the success of quartet was not a fluke, as “One Way Ticket” was a Top 10 hit. After taking a hiatus in 2006, the Darkness returned in 2011, touring the world with Lady Gaga the following year in 2012.
Three studio albums have been recorded by the Darkness since 2011, and the latest one is 2017’s Pinewood Smile. On Pinewood Smile, the trademark hooks, hard rock guitars and vocal gymnastics of the Darkness remain intact. Frontman Justin Hawkins remains in prime form, as does lead guitarist Dan Hawkins and the rhythm section of bassist Frankie Poullain and drummer Rufus Taylor; Taylor, the son of Queen’s Roger Taylor, joined the Darkness in 2015. Beyond releasing Pinewood Smile, 2017 has found the Darkness sharing stadium stages across Europe with Guns N’ Roses. Before a Darkness documentary comes out in 2018, the group will be on the road plenty, including upcoming U.S. dates at Los Angeles’ Fonda Theatre and Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas.
On behalf of the Inquisitr, I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Frankie Poullain. One of the funnier and more quick-witted interview subjects I have encountered, Poullain’s responses are exactly what one would hope for from one of rock’s most self-aware bands. More on the Darkness can be found at www.thedarknesslive.com.
Pinewood Smile is the Darkness’ second album for an indie label. Did you know that you were going to release it through your own label imprint when making it?
Frankie Poullain: No, we hadn’t a clue. It’s better to be clueless when making music. You don’t need eyes or brains, just ears and heart.
Pinewood Smile follows Last of Our Kind very quickly. Had any of the songs from Pinewood Smile been written for Last of Our Kind?
Frankie Poullain: Perish the thought. T.J. Maxx we are not.
Do you have a favorite song on Pinewood Smile?
Frankie Poullain: “Why Don’t the Beautiful Cry?” It’s a witty warm-hearted treatise on snowblind ice queens, featuring Rufus Taylor on vocals.
Was the recording of Pinewood Smile followed for your documentary? What’s the latest on the Darkness documentary?
Frankie Poullain: Documentaries are all about patience and intuition. Frail egos need to be coaxed out of their shells. So far, we have 400 hours of something, I have no idea what it is, but it is strange, uncomfortable, and often compelling.
— Majestic Detroit (@majesticdetroit) September 28, 2017
What do you wish more people knew about the Darkness?
Frankie Poullain: Good question. Why don’t more people ask that? I wish more people knew that we like that question.
Some artists like “playing the hits” because of the crowd reaction, while others can’t stand to hear their most famous songs any more than they have to. Where do you stand?
Frankie Poullain: If the song rocks and resonates, play it. I feel genuinely sorry for Coldplay having to perform sterile saccharine guitar-less inanity like “Paradise.”
For you, is touring as fun nowadays as it was a decade ago? I ask because cell phones weren’t as much of a part of the show when the Darkness was touring the world in support of its first album.
Frankie Poullain: We don’t get too much of that at our shows, people are too busy enjoying themselves. And they know that Justin is likely to grab it and stick it down the front of his catsuit. Although now I’ve said that, it will only encourage them.
Did being a tour guide in Venezuela in any way prepare you for a career as a touring musician?
Frankie Poullain: Another good question. No, quite the opposite. A gram of charlie cost me $10 in Venezuela and it was laced with smack, so it got you addicted pretty quick. The coke we got as touring musicians back in the day was expensive and weak in comparison.
Do you have any plans to write a follow-up to your autobiography from almost a decade ago?
Frankie Poullain: Never. Writing about yourself and people closest to you is awful and tedious. It’s tiring being nice about other people and pretending to be self-depreciating.
— The Darkness (@thedarkness) July 21, 2017
Do you write any music besides what you do as part of the Darkness?
Frankie Poullain: Yes. It might surprise people to know that it’s unbelievably brilliant and accomplished, but it wouldn’t be fair on the other guys if I released it. All about sacrifice.
When you’re not busy with the Darkness, how do you like to spend your free time?
Frankie Poullain: None of your f**king business. Actually, funnily enough, that is what I do: Nothing, f**king and business.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in New York?
Frankie Poullain: Any good old-school family-run Italian. I hate modern Italian or anything fusion.
Finally, Frankie, any last words for the kids?
Frankie Poullain: Quit whining, take it on the chin, and read John Fante.
[Featured Image by Simon Emmett]