You can probably come up with more than a healthy share of reasons why The Darkness still hits all the right notes both on record and live, but leave it to bassist Frankie Poullain to explain why he believes the UK quartet deserves your attention.
“There’s four of us, no sequencers, no backing tapes, we don’t cheat on anything,” he said. “There’s no safety net. When you have a fifth member, you have a safety net, because psychologically you can relax slightly. That’s why as time has gone on, I’ve realized that we really are a rock and roll band.”
It’s as simple as that, and while the world at large may think that the kind of music the band plays saw its shelf life fade away a couple decades ago, there is still that diehard following that will likely pack NYC’s Irving Plaza Tuesday and Huntington’s Paramount on Halloween, perhaps hitting that cowbell for a return to rock. And who better to lead that charge than a band that boldly proclaims themselves as the Last of Our Kind on their latest album?
“Feeling something isn’t the same as rationalizing it,” Poullain explains. “And we feel something, but of course if you rationalized it and looked at the statistics and everything, we’d think ‘okay, we’re not the last of our kind.’ (Laughs) But we’re musicians, and in some ways, we’re the only band that can have that combination of things that we have – that ability to take a really silly thing and make it seem serious and really powerful. We have that thing of power and silliness which is quite rare. Of course I’m biased, because I’m in the band.”
Joined by the Hawkins brothers, vocalist Justin and guitarist Dan, as well as the newest member of the group, drummer Rufus Taylor, the band is firing on all cylinders on Last of Our Kind. The venues aren’t as big as they were when they burst onto the scene with their debut album Permission to Land in 2003, but just being back together and doing their thing in the studio and on the road brings a smile to Poullain’s face.
“It’s cliché to say this, but this is the strongest we’ve ever been in terms of the lineup, where we all are as people, and how we’re performing,” he said. “There’s a lot of improvement musically and as people, and we’re really champing at the bit. I’ve never looked forward to touring more than I am now. We’re probably going to be away ten of the next 12 months, and we’re going to be hitting everywhere.”
They’ve already visited Mexico City, Canada and the U.S. thus far, with Australia, the UK and Europe all on the agenda through 2016. Again, this is what rock bands go, and whether playing for 40 people or 40,000, if there’s a stage, The Darkness want to be on it.
“I guess in the States we’ve always been a cult band, and now, in a way, overseas, everywhere we’re a cult band,” Poullain said. “It’s leveled off and we’re more or less the same size all over the world. It’s kind of nice. We get 1,500 or 2,000 sometimes. In some cities like Melbourne and London, 4,000 or 5,000, and it’s great. Obviously, rock now is not enjoying a great time, but these things change. All it takes is a band with some personality, great tunes, and then suddenly rock is back in vogue. In the UK that’s happening now. There are some young rock bands coming through, and I think there’s only so much robotic, digital programmed music that you can take. Humans aren’t robots. They need something sexy and hot blooded to listen to.”
Are Suffolk’s finest the ones to deliver? Well, you know the answer to that already, don’t you?
“I can’t imagine a more enjoyable band to be in than The Darkness, to see all the smiles on the faces and people rocking out,” Poullain said. Having a new drummer in Taylor, the son of Queen great Roger Taylor, doesn’t hurt either.
“Working with Rufus Taylor is one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had in my musical career,” the 48-year-old bassist said. “Rufus hits the snare very hard, so things are definitely very explosive and there’s a propulsive quality to his playing and I’m really enjoying it. I’m loving it. It’s definitely more manly. I feel more manly, I feel younger, and I feel better looking.”
The Darkness play Irving Plaza in NYC on Tuesday, October 27 (tickets here) and The Paramount in Huntington, NY on Saturday, October 31 (tickets here).