From over a decade ago, you may remember the infectious song “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” blasting over the radio airwaves. Known for their AC/DC style guitar licks, over the top Freddie Mercury-esque cat suits and lead singer Justin Hawkins’ piercing falsetto,The Darkness made a unique niche for themselves in the rock and roll world. But their immediate rise to fame was matched with an even more abrupt backslide when the band parted ways not three years later.
Fast forward to present day, the band has reformed, ditched the cat suits and released their newest album Last of Our Kind to the approval of music critics and fans alike. Bassist Frankie Poullain took some time out with DIME photographer Jenn Devereaux for a quick interview before the band headed out on their Back to the USSA tour that began last month in Santa Cruz, Calif.
JENN DEVEREAUX: How would you describe the sound of Last of Our Kind in comparison to past albums?
FRANKIE POULLAIN: It sounds warmer and fuller sounding, like a Greek family Moussaka I would say, southern Mediterranean cuisine — emotive, intense and yet ultimately nourishing.
JD: What’s the meaning behind the album title?
FP: It’s futile and unfulfilling to explain poetical concepts. Part of the fun is to look at the album artwork, read the lyrics and put this metaphysical jigsaw together in your head so to speak. Translation: I haven’t got a fucking clue! I only know what it means to ‘me’ …
JD: What was the recording process like this time around? Where did you record?
FP: Dan Hawkins did a great job producing this record in his countryside retreat studio in East Anglia which is not too far from Norwich. It’s all about laying down gauntlets and not being in the comfort zone. Rock and roll should exist on the edge — and not just the edge of Norwich! The Darkness believe there is also an edge that exists between being serious and not being serious — a sense of the ridiculous or absurd. We enjoy inhabiting that realm, or walking that line so to speak, although sometimes you slip and that edge gets you right between the legs — OUCH!! Critical disdain and public indifference towards the supposed ‘joke’ band, ultimately, it’s something we flavour our music with. It’s not the ‘thing.’ The ‘thing’ is rocking out.
JD: Most people recognize the band from the song “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” off the debut album, Permission to Land, but if you had your way, which song would be the one that people remember you for?
FP: Growing On Me.
JD: In this digital age of music, fans are looking to services like iTunes and Spotify to listen to their favorite artists. What are your thoughts on this and has it affected the band positively or negatively?
FP: I enjoy change. Life’s too short to cling onto the past. People become fat, greedy, decadent and druggy under the same system, and that’s what it was like when record companies ripped people off with CDs. The music is the most important thing. Well, in fact, the musicians are the most important thing — because they create the music. And as Meatloaf once said: ‘No musician in the history of recorded music has ever received his due.” Unfortunately, it’s tougher now to make a living, and we have less money to spend on album budgets, but, then again, good albums do not correlate to big album budgets. It’s not as simple as that.
JD: On that same note, do you think digital recording is ruining that stripped-down, classic rock sound?
JD: I think it’s pretty obvious that Queen is a big influence on the band, so was it a perfect fit to have Roger Taylor’s son Rufus on the drums?
FP: Yes, a young blond of impeccable breeding, a roguish sense of humour and a beast behind the kit — beneath the sheets, too, so I’m told.
JD: What was the first album you ever bought?
FP: The Police — Reggatta de Blanc
JD: What are some bands you are currently listening to?
FP: Father John Misty, The Waterboys and Miles Davis
JD: If there was a phrase that best describes your outlook on life, what would it be?
FP: Black is white.
JD: Do you have phobias?
FP: ‘Bourgeois’ people.
JD: What kind of person were you in high school?
FP: Annoying, highly strung, deluded, stupid, occasionally sweet.
JD: What can fans expect when they see The Darkness live?
FP: That their eyes, ears and throat will ache with a warm post-coital glow.