I don’t care if I’m 42 or 142; I was, am, and will forever be a giddy kid when it comes to great rock and roll music from my favorite bands. It’s what I live and die for and a band like THE DARKNESS has been in constant rotation on my various players for over a decade now. So when the call came that I had a chance to interview bassist Frankie Poullain I did backflips for about an hour and a half. There hasn’t been a bad album since the band’s inception so I was excited to pick his brain about newest release Last of Our Kind, how they choose setlists, their writing, and more. Check it:
Amps: Frankie, the last album and tour were both a rousing success. I saw you in NY and Dallas and the audiences were deafening and fully into it, me included. What does that do for a band who at that point had been away for a number of years?
Frankie: Makes us hungry and tingly all over. Like stepping into the bath after a long day on the ski slopes.
Amps: Hot Cakes was in my Top 10 of 2012…how could it not be?? When it came time for the Last of Our Kind sessions, what was the feel and vibe in the band, as far as what way you wanted the songs to take shape?
Frankie: The backdrop was one of upheaval and turmoil in our private and professional lives. Our management (both domestic and stateside), record companies (natch) and drummer had to be replaced. It was sad but so very apparent. The songs could not help but express a sense of defiance and empowerment in the face of such upheaval.
Amps: One of the things I love most about THE DARKNESS is that no two albums sound alike. Do you consciously try to avoid any similarities to the previous disc when all the dust has settled, or does the music just take you wherever it takes you?
Frankie: You are correct and thank you for noticing. We are on a musical and cosmic journey, attempting to ultimately blow our own minds. That is all that really matters, everything else is a byproduct of this brave and perhaps foolhardy undertaking.
Amps: What is so far your best live memory and what city/venue was it in?
Frankie: Polish Woodstock 2012. It was a free festival with one main stage. Officially there were 250,000 but they just stopped counting and they estimated 400,000. We were on the main stage at 9 pm on the Saturday night, the crowd went as far as you could see to the sides as well as to the front. The sheer mass transformed into an organism writhing and pulsing to the stage commandments. It was truly and spectacularly unreal.
Frankie: It just happened. Looking back I think the song is about when I was cast asunder and sacked from the band. It sounds like it doesn’t it? Although I’m not sure what I meant when singing “Sympathy Is dangerous.”
I over-sang it but in a sense that was the idea, to go really over the top and be completely unapologetic. The song derived mainly from my subconscious but I have to say that the inspiration came first and foremost from Dan’s (Hawkins, guitar) delightful arpeggios.
Amps: What can we expect from THE DARKNESS on this tour? I imagine picking a setlist must be a real challenge at this point.
Frankie: We’ve chosen what we believe to be the finest 20 Darkness songs, no more and no less.
Amps: What do you hope people take away from the new record after the last song is finished?
Frankie: I don’t mind too much what folks take away, it could be Chinese, Thai, Indian or Sushi even. As long as they remember to order sides, and some raw juice to wash it all down.
Amps: What are you listening to when you’re away from the band?
Frankie: Recently BUBBLE PUPPY and FUNKADELIC. Before that MOGWAI, MERCURY REV and THE ROLLING STONES. I do appreciate silence more as I get older. There’s silence and then there’s silence. I’m in love with the ‘hum’ of a mountain top.
Amps: Tell us one thing that people would be shocked to know about you. Also, what are some of your interests outside of music?
Frankie: What would shock people? My shoe size. My IQ. My bank balance. My interests outside music? I work as a clown, am a member of Mensa and operate a hedge fund.
Amps: Lastly, what would you like to say to all the fans of THE DARKNESS worldwide?
Frankie: Try our new VIP Q&A and Soundcheck upgrade! Ok, what do I really want to say to DARKNESS fans worldwide? This:
YOU created us, you made us into the monster we are. It’s too late now but you should have been careful what you wished for because now we’re out of control, and we have no idea what we’re doing…Happy now?
Never did I think when Permission to Land came out back in 2003 that I’d be chatting with a member of THE DARKNESS for Amps and Green Screens some 12 years later. I still can’t believe I get to do this sort of thing regularly, and when someone like Frankie Poullain can not only offer great insight into the workings of the band but also show a witty side at the same time, that’s the icing on the Hot Cakes (see what I did there?) Last of Our Kind is available now, and it’s a record I highly recommend. You can check the group’s tour dates and score tickets HERE. Come on out to the Philly show at the TLA on October 30 and say hi if you see us!