Published on October 18th, 2021 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
The Darkness’ Frankie Poullain On The New “Motorheart” Album, Future U.S. Touring Plans & More
Almost 20 years ago in 2003, The Darkness made a global impact with its debut album Permission To Land, which sold over 1.5 million albums in the U.K. alone. “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” was a phenomenon, alongside other hit singles like “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” and “Growing on Me,” as The Darkness earned 3 BRIT Awards, 2 Kerrang Awards,and an Ivor Novello honor. The second Darkness album, One Way Ticket To Hell… And Back, proved that the success of quartet was not a fluke, as first single “One Way Ticket” was also a Top 10 hit. After taking a hiatus in 2006, the Darkness returned in 2011, touring the world with Lady Gaga the following year in 2012; 2012’s Hot Cakes, 2015’s Last Of Our Kind, 2017’s Pinewood Smile and 2019’s Easter Is Cancelled have also come in recent years.
Bringing things up to speed, The Darkness — comprised of frontman/guitarist Justin Hawkins, guitarist/producer Dan Hawkins, bassist Frankie Poullain and drummer Rufus Taylor — has a new album being unleashed on November 19, 2021 via the Cooking Vinyl label titled Motorheart. “Jussy’s Girl” is the latest single from Motorheart, which Justin Hawkins has described as “a song about unrequited desires of both the flesh and the heart… It’s sad, but also carefree. Sonically we were aiming for somewhere between Def Leppard and Billy Ocean. Well, I was. There’s a helicopter in it and an awesome guitar solo. What more could you ask for?” The Darkness will be showcasing the live potency of Motorheart via a 22-date UK headline tour kicking off next month, as followed by a European run at the top of next year, with North American 2022 tour dates expected to follow.
On October 14, 2021, I had the pleasure of speaking with the always-witty and interesting Darkness bassist Frankie Poullain via Zoom, as embedded below. Some highlights from that conversation have been transcribed below exclusively for The Hype. More on Poullain, the excellent Motorheart album, future Darkness tour dates and The Darkness as a whole can be found here, here and here.
On whether anyone calls Frankie Poullain “Frank”:
Frankie Poullain: “In England, as you know, there’s a class system, so what I find — without getting too political — I would say that the more working-class people call me ‘Frank’… ‘Frankie’ has a certain swashbuckling quality to a slightly-flighty quality to it. Whereas ‘Frank’ is just very grounded. So sometimes I feel like it’s my friends who call me ‘Frank’ to try to keep my feet on the ground.”
On when the Motorheart album was finished with relation to the COVID-19 pandemic:
Frankie Poullain: “We were waiting to see what happened [as a result of COVID-19]… So it was written entirely and recorded during COVID. It was written and recorded pretty quickly, to be honest, because it wasn’t even written at the start of it… It took us a while to realize what was happening with COVID. We were in Australia at the time, we were about to do a gig in Adelaide, halfway through the Australian tour. But we were keeping an eye on it, then things got worse very quickly so we flew back halfway through.”
On Motorheart track “Speed Of The Nite Time” being unique from the rest of The Darkness’ catalog:
Frankie Poullain: “You’ve come to the right shop there, because that was my baby, really. It originated from a conversation I had with Justin about 3 years ago when we were talking about The Sisters Of Mercy and we were talking about the fact that, how come the drums sound horrible, the bass sounds horrible, the guitar sounds horrible, his voice sounds horrible, but put it all together, it sounds great. How does that work? So during lockdown I was actually just messing around with my partner, she’s an american singer-songwriter Diane Birch, and we were just messing around. We don’t really collaborate really because we have a different musical styles. She’s extremely talented, of course, on the piano and her voice is great, too. We keep the music separate from our relationship usually, but this time we were really bored when we started talking about how much we love The Cure, all that kind of 80s kind of goth… Billy Idol and everything, so then she just did these finger drums with the beat and then I came up with that bass line which later on became a guitar line in the verse of ‘Speed Of The Nite Time’ and then we goofed around a little bit more, as the Americans would say, and then I took it to Dan.”
On his interest in both high-brow and low-brow culture:
Frankie Poullain: “I’m not interested in middle brow… I have no interest in it. Sophistication, that word doesn’t interest me when it comes to the arts. I like stuff that’s garish, bad taste, and then also like the stuff that’s ratified and poetic as well.”