Frankie Poullain is rather soft-spoken for a musician – but then again, he isn’t a drummer. Long-time member of Lowestoft glam rockers The Darkness, with a luxuriously large hairstyle to boot, the bassist is in the midst of touring alongside the group in support of their fifth album and third since their 2011 reunion, Pinewood Smile.
For a band deeply entrenched in a sense of Britishness, its title is hardly surprising.
“It’s a riff on the Hollywood Smile, that whole procedure of creating a new cosmetic sense of self. I mean, Justin (Hawkins, frontman) just got his teeth straightened so he’s a new version on the outside in a way.” He pauses. “It was something as a pun to do with that English sense of class and comedy that we feel is absent from a lot of music and culture these days. Hitchcock, Moore, Connery – the raised eyebrow and that filmic energy.”
Pinewood Smile features Poullain and the brothers Hawkins once more, Justin and guitarist Dan, along with their third drummer in as many albums in the shape of Rufus Taylor, and the Scotsman feels that he has integrated himself well over the past year or so since taking up sticksman duties. “He really expresses himself on this album. He’s like a young buck and, well… that makes us younger, more stallion-like in a way too!”
The Darkness’s trip across Europe is already in full swing, entitled the Tour de Prance – “lots of prancing” Poullain murmurs – and comes on the back of support slots with Guns N’ Roses in the summer. “It was like a military operation. Everyone was so professional, which kind of went against the grain with us! We played in hundred degrees Fahrenheit at Imola to a 100,000 fans though, which was incredible. Our latest single Solid Gold became a hit there on the back of that, which was cool.”
Italy has nothing on the weirdest place they’ve had a hit though, he chortles. “I Believe in a Thing Called Love was a massive karaoke and jukebox hit in China. But because they’re rather secluded from Western publishing industries, we’ve never seen a penny in royalties! Trust us to have a hit we couldn’t profit from on the other side of the world – it would only happen to us!” And with that, he’s off, bouffant as outrageous as the songs he plays; a standard bearing for old good-time rock ’n’ roll.
The Darkness play at O2 Academy Leeds on Monday November 27. www.thedarknesslive.com
It was something as a pun to do with that English sense of class and comedy that we feel is absent from a lot of music and culture these days.Frankie Poullain