Interview: The Darkness’ Frankie Poullain discusses band’s North American Tour de Prance and new album, ‘Pinewood Smile’
Photo credit: Simon Emmett and used with permission

Multi-award winning English rockers The Darkness have recently kicked off the North American leg of their Tour de Prance. The new tour is in support of their critically acclaimed fifth album, Pinewood Smile, which was released last fall.

The new album, produced by Grammy Award winning Adrian Bushby, is the band’s most infectious and guitar-driven album to date and features anthemic tracks like “All The Pretty Girls” and “Japanese Prisoner of Love” as well as the catchy, groove-fueled “Solid Gold”.

The Darkness is: Justin Hawkins (vocals / guitar), Dan Hawkins (guitar), Frankie Poullain (bass) and Rufus Tiger Taylor (drums).

AXS recently spoke with bassist, Frankie Poullain about the band’s tour and album in this fun new interview.

AXS: What can fans North American expect from The Darkness' Tour de Prance?

Frankie Poullain: Wham! Bam! Thank you glam! 

AXS: How would you describe the album, Pinewood Smile in terms of its sound and maybe how it relates to some of the band’s previous work?

FP: It's equal parts silly and heartfelt. Like life itself, minus the regrets. 

AXS: What is The Darkness’ writing process like? Does it begin with a melody? A hook? 

FP: Catching the big fish as David Lynch says. A hook is crucial. Then, we throw them back in the water when we play them live.

AXS: What inspires you personally when you write and create?

FP: I provide the chips to accompany the fish, or fries as you yanks would call them. And I sprinkle over the malt vinegar which you lot miss out on. Ketchup or mayo on fish and chips is an utter disgrace.

AXS: I’d like to ask you about a few tracks from Pinewood Smile and get your thoughts on them, starting with the “Solid Gold”.

FP: It’s a song about how ridiculous and delusional and magical it is to play in a rock n roll band. With a chorus lyric, “And We're Never Gonna Stop Sh#ttin' Out Solid Gold”, which encapsulates those delusions.

AXS: How about the track, “All The Pretty Girls”?

FP: It’s merely an excuse for Justin [Hawkins] to false rhyme 'who I am' with 'platinum' or 'platinam' [laughs].

AXS: Was there a meaning behind the song, “Happiness"?

FP: We tried and failed to write a silly pop song. The verse and bridges are exciting but somehow the chorus doesn't deliver. Still, we tried. The rest of the album delivers though.

AXS: What do you love most about the song, "Southern Trains"?

FP: I love many things about that song. Live, it's monumental and ridiculous. We tried and succeeded in writing a polemical protest song inspired by Nitro's "Night Train" - the song that killed hair metal.

AXS: What’s your current set-up like for touring? Is there a particular bass/amp combination you prefer?

FP: Yes. A Hiwatt 200 head with an old 70's Ampeg speaker. The aged wood warms it up beautifully. 

AXS: Was a career in music something you always envisioned? Was it something you always aspired to do?

FP: No, of course not. Who thinks about a career when they get into music? Coldplay and Maroon 5. So, f#ck those careerists for sterilizing the kids. 

AXS: Of all the highlights in your career, is there one thing that stands out to you as most memorable?

FP: Doing these really long, spirally turds whenever I'm in the States. Can't work out why it happens [laughs]. 

AXS: What excites you the most about Pinewood Smile and this phase of the band’s career?

FP: The creative freedom to say and do what we want.

Check out the AXS video interview with other members from The Darkness right here.