For the best part of twenty years, Frankie Poullain has been slapping bass for British glam/rock outfit The Darkness, best known for their explosive track ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’, and obviously a whole lot more. Having played Australia’s Groovin’ the Moo festival and numerous Australian tours, the rock n’ rollers are back and bigger than ever with a brand new record ‘Easter is Cancelled’ out on October 4th, and a recently announced Aussie tour… pretty close to Easter (it’s in March, so chill).
Poullain is proud of the band’s new album, as he should be. “We’ve spent a lot of time on this one, we’ve definitely put pressure on ourselves to do something different” – which they have. ‘Easter is Cancelled’ takes a diverse angle to their signature style, and provides a cross-section of different styles and tempos.
The record opens with the strikingly interesting track title ‘Rock and Roll Deserves to Die’ – eek who’s side are you on here Frank? The truth is, although we know The Darkness as the fun, easy-going jokesters that they’ve intentionally embodied, they aren’t taking the piss with this one.
“We’re laying down the gauntlet. We don’t like to analyse too much, but somehow when that [Gene Simmons] phrase came out, we were mentioned and asked about it – and when we all sat around the table, I think it was Dan (Hawkins; Rhythm Guitar) who actually said ‘rock and roll’s time has finally come.”
That’s when the band realised that this was going to be the theme of the album, from a kind-of existential crisis point of view. “We thought “OK all we have to do is lay down a marker and talk about our reason to be, why do we exist as a band, why we’re still doing this, really push boundaries and try out new things.”
Of course at this point in time, I attempted to relate to the bassist, and highlight Slipknot’s recent triumph over artists like Ed Sheeran, only to quickly realise that The Darkness supported Ed not so long ago on tour. At this point of our chat, it was partly ‘whoops’ and partly ‘interesting’ – let’s get another look at this one.
“If you look at the level they’re at, Slipknot is a very different thing, they’re not the same level as rock, and anyway I think they’re more heavy metal in my opinion.”
The musician wasn’t wrong, and brought a new perspective – and of course The Darkness is team rock after all… so what rock album have they put together in 2019?
“We wanted to do a true studio album as opposed to” their more live and raw sound previous album “‘Pinewood Smile. With that we wanted to capture energy. This time we’re capturing musical exploration, we have a punk song, we have ‘Easter is Cancelled’ which is the title track and a pop song” he says proudly before rattling off some more. “There’s ‘Deck Chair’ which is almost like a nineteenth century track – so we really strived for a theatrical ensemble.” There’s something for everyone on the album. “We also have songs about heartbreak and breakup, you know things that aren’t very ‘Darkness’”.
Poullain’s favourite track is ‘Deck Chair’, but is clear about the most important song on the album being the opener. ‘Rock and Roll Deserves to Die’ “is a journey, it becomes a very heavy kind of punk with an AC/DC-esque outro and finishes with a joke really. It just really ticks quite a few things that make a lot of ‘The Darkness’ in one song.”
So with a diverse new album and an upcoming Aussie tour – of course we want to know what that intersection looks like. “Well we’re gonna play the whole of the new album from start to finish” – something The Darkness have never done before. “But the second half of the show will be the well-known tunes, so it’s gonna be a formal first half and an informal second half.” We can’t wait.
If you’ve seen the band play live before, you know to probably expect the full bells and whistles, but maybe even some more if you’re lucky. Vocalist Justin Hawkins is bringing more to the table more recently. “He’s actually started to wear dresses now actually – when we supported Ed Sheeran last month he was actually wearing a dress, but I’m sure he’ll be getting the spandex back.” Apparently it’s been something he’s been talking about for a while so who knows what wardrobe Hawkins will choose.
The Australian tour should be a big’un – “the bassist reckons they we sold 1400 tickets in 12 hours in Melbourne when the gig got announced.” Let’s break some records Australia.
Interview by Ricky Aarons @rickysaul90
Pre-Order the new album here
The Darkness – Easter is Cancelled tracklisting
1. Rock and Roll Deserves to Die
2. How Can I Lose Your Love
3. Live ‘Til I Die
4. Heart Explodes
5. Deck Chair
6. Easter is Cancelled
7. Heavy Metal Lover
8. In Another Life
9. Choke on it
10. We Are the Guitar Men
12. Different Eyes
Catch The Darkness on tour below
The Darkness Australian & New Zealand Tour
Wednesday 11 March – Metropolis, Fremantle
Friday 13 March – Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Saturday 14 March – Forum, Melbourne
Sunday 15 March – The Gov, Adelaide
Wednesday 18 March – The Tivoli, Brisbane