Brit Rock group The Darkness played in New Zealand this week. They first came to prominence with the release of their debut album, Permission to Land, in 2003. Backed by the singles I Believe in a Thing Called Love, Growing on Me, and Love is Only a Feeling.
“The last time we were in New Zealand, we were greeted by a cavalcade of Hell’s Angels.” He says. They had a customised hearse for us and tickets to the Big Day Out back in 2004 – it was very good, it was our first time playing here.”
Outgoing bassist Frankie Poullain confesses, “My top half is Scottish and below the waist I’m French.” He admits “I was a very happy kid in the 1970s, it was my golden time,” during the recording of the second album, things took a turn with the band with it being reported that he had been “technically fired” from the band.
Poullain left the band in 2005, citing “musical differences” as the reason. He was replaced by Richie Edwards, a former guitar technician for the band. His departure caused quite a stir with the press, however, in 2011 The Darkness officially announced that they were to reunite, with all four original members.
“Since 2011, it’s just got better and better,” admits Poullain. “It’s never really good when you’re making like a comeback in the sense, you find your stride and find your creative place as well. Now we’ve got artistic freedom and playing with Rufus (Taylor) is a dream.”
The band from Lowestoft, Suffolk, currently consists of lead vocalist/guitarist Justin Hawkins, brother Dan Hawkins on guitar, Frankie Poullain playing bass and son of Queen drummer Roger Taylor, Rufus Tiger Taylor on drums.
“It’s our first album with Rufus Taylor.” He says. The way he hits the drums, he’s a very primal, energetic drummer so we’re feeding off his style, he’s powerhouse. It’s the first time I’ve ever worked with a powerhouse drummer.
“We’re making album five and we’re launching the album in your neck of the woods. So, yours is going to be the first Tour of the campaign. The album hasn’t got a title yet, but it will do when we hit Auckland, it will be the very first gig of ‘album five’ campaign.”
Poullain is the only original Darkness member not from the Lowestoft area. Before joining the Darkness, he worked as a tour guide in the Venezuelan mountains, “My family are travellers and adventurers, so I spent time in South America.”
“My biggest lesson learned in life, is not to learn – resist learning.” He says. “Because if you learn, it makes you ‘fearful’ and unappreciative of spontaneous pleasures in life. So, I don’t believe in lessons. Lessons make people too reflective.”
This year, The Darkness announced album number five; it will be released later in the year sometime as Poullain says “Some of the songs haven’t even got titles yet, the album will come after the NZ Tour.”, After which, the band will embark on a winter tour of the UK in November and December.
“It’s going to sound like a combination of everything.” He says. “The ballads will be sweeter; the heavy stuff will be more full-blooded and there’s not going to be much in-between really. It’s either going to be really passionate, ethereal ballads or very heavy, primitive machine drumming.”
The Darkness are working on a feature-length documentary. According to Poullain ” It’s pretty daunting when you think of it, but the key is not to think about it, we just have to be ourselves and let it happen,” and is he also wary of controlling the footage adding, “We don’t really want to have control. If you’re members of a band, you’ll have a tendency to want yourself to look good, it’s got to be warts and all.”
“They’ve shot about 300 hours of footage,” he says. “They’ve captured a lot of drama, good times, poignancy – You forget the cameras are there after a while and that’s good. It really depends on what story they choose to tell because they’ve got so much footage, they could leave things out.
“You can’t really tell the whole story with a documentary, because the whole story is too complex. You have to focus on the poetic essence of what the band is, certainly from what I’ve seen so far, it’s the best expertly shot and crafted film of us.”