Frankie Poullain, bass guitarist with The Darkness chats with Kevin Cooper about leaving and then re-joining the band, his autobiography Dancing In The Darkness, their new studio album and their forthcoming performance at Splendour Festival
Frankie Poullain, is the bass guitarist the for rock band The Darkness. He was raised in Milnathort then Edinburgh, Scotland. He was the only original Darkness member not to have come from the Lowestoft area.
He left the band in 2005, citing ‘musical differences’ as the reason. He was replaced by Richie Edwards, a former guitar technician for the band. His departure caused quite a stir with the press, most notably in the NME magazine where he was reportedly regarded as their favourite member of the band.
However, in 2011 The Darkness officially announced that they were to reunite, with all four original members. Frankie described this as being “just like old times”. The band sub-headlined the Download Festival at Donington Park in June 2011, playing under Def Leppard, when they were very well received. They also played at Hammersmith, with Queen guitarist Brian May joining the band as a guest.
Frankie’s autobiography, Dancing In The Darkness, charting the ups and downs of his life with the band, was released in November 2008.
Whilst busy working in the studio on the new Darkness album, he took time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.
Hi Frankie how are you?
Hi Kevin I’m great thanks.
Firstly let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me.
How is life treating you today?
Very good thanks. Myself, Dan and Justin are all nesting as we have all recently bought ourselves new places to live. We have all frantically been on eBay trying to furnish our new properties before we hit the festival season.
I last saw you playing live last year here in Nottingham at Rock City and I have to say that it was a tremendous show although I do have a bone to pick with you.
Oh really, what’s that?
I was there to photograph the show and you actually came on stage early so I missed my slot in the pit.
Oh sugar, I’m sorry about that but I do have a bone to pick with you guys as well.
Ok what’s that?
The reviewer of that show at Rock City made a comment about my vocal performance on the song that I sang.
Did they really?
They did, but to be honest with you I think that I cocked it up that night. I am looking for a re-write (laughter).
I can honestly say that has nothing at all to do with me Frankie. Once they told me that I couldn’t go into the pit I simply got myself a drink and enjoyed the show.
(Laughter) anyway I am glad that you enjoyed the show.
I can remember seeing you a few years prior to your Rock City gig here in Nottingham at the Capital FM Arena as it was then and Justin flew over the crowd on a stuffed tiger. The only problem was that it broke down and he could not get back onto the stage.
(Laughter) I can actually remember that gig. Totally Spinal Tap yes? (laughter).
There he was dangling around twenty feet above the crowd and the rest of you guys were stood on the stage wondering what to do next (laughter).
That was the only time on that tour that there was a problem with the tiger. It happens sometimes (laughter).
You are coming back to Nottingham to headline the Confetti Stage at this year’s Splendour Festival. Are you looking forward to playing here once again?
Very much so. I personally am a great fan of Nottingham’s history and culture. I am a huge fan of D.H. Lawrence having read a lot of his works back when I was in my twenties. I love the work of Shane Meadows; I really do think that he is a great director. I love Nottingham Forest and in particular Brian Clough who is one of my all-time heroes. And coming right up to date I really do love The Sleaford Mods. And of course you can’t mention Nottinghamshire without speaking of Lord Byron. Funnily enough when I recently took my belongings out of storage I found copies of the complete works of Byron. I didn’t realise that I had it so it was really nice to find that.
Sadly there is now a fast-food chain that sell pies named after Lord Byron. I feel that Lord Byron would be frantically turning in his grave (laughter).
I know, I think that the germ of that idea came out of the 2011 series of The Apprentice.
It just goes to show that people have no respect for the past.
So whenever you have found yourself here in Nottingham, have you managed to find your way down to The Trip To Jerusalem?
No, not as yet, what is that?
It is supposed to be the oldest pub in England having been founded in 1189 AD and it is rumoured that King Richard stayed there when he was on his way to the crusades.
That’s interesting because when I lived in France I actually found myself living on the route that Richard The Lionheart took when he was plundering his way through France. So there are a lot of coincidences at the moment.
Really, that’s quite fitting don’t you think (laughter). I just hope that at some stage we will have the time to visit it.
Do you find that to be a problem, that when you visit all of these places you simply don’t have the time to enjoy them?
You have hit the nail right on the head there. That is exactly what happens; we simply do not have the time. Sometimes it is nice to make the effort to do it but you are not really in the mood for a museum are you when you have been stuck in a gig for hours. There is a lot of waiting around, checking in, checking out, and all that kind of stuff so you tend to want to eat when you arrive somewhere. We have found that a session in the gym or a game of tennis works well for us guys.
Well bring your racket with you and pop along to the Nottingham Tennis Centre.
Oh yes I would love to; I have been told all about the Tennis Centre up there in Nottingham. It sounds great. We are all very keen players and Rufus (Tiger Taylor) has a serve like a rocket.
Anyway, now that I have done my best to sell Nottingham to you we had better get back to music (laughter). Do you prefer the larger outdoor festival gigs or the smaller more intimate indoor events?
The question isn’t indoor or outdoor really, I would say that the key issue is a full house. Any full house suits us fine really.
You have recently toured America, how did that go?
Very well; we have always done very well over there. What we find is that there is more goodwill over there and less cynicism. The Americans love us and see us as a serious rock and roll band. They do not fixate on the humour side of our music unlike the press here in the UK tend to concentrate on. The Americans are far less sceptical towards The Darkness.
In November 2008 you released your autobiography Dancing In The Darkness, was that something that you wanted to do or something that you felt that you had to do?
Neither, it was just a laugh (laughter).
As we all know the rest of the guys in the band are from Lowestoft while you are from Milnathort, Kinross-shire, Scotland so I have to ask you how did you and the guys meet?
We met through the classified ads newspaper Loot when the boys were advertising auditions for a bass player back in the late 90s. Back in the 90s every single band who advertised for a new member always wrote ‘must like The Pixies’ (laughter). Everyone liked The Pixies (laughter).
You left the band in 2005 and re-joined in 2011. Was it the right time for both decisions?
Yes, but looking back I probably should have re-joined the band sooner. We have wasted so much time. I probably should have just taken two years off really. We are having such a great time and Rufus has added something special to the mix.
I have just watched a video for Apple of a certain Taylor Swift dancing to I Believe In A Thing Called Love. How did that come about?
She is a big fan of The Darkness and her dad took her to see a couple of gigs of ours when she was twelve years old. She has always been a fan of ours. We have recently found out that Avril Lavigne is also a huge fan of ours too. That’s the difference between The Darkness and most kinds of hard rock bands. Most hard rock bands fan bases have always been ninety percent male but with us it is much more even. Females like The Darkness in a sense of enjoyment, euphoria and excitement and as we males know women like to be excited don’t they (laughter).
The Darkness have now associated themselves with two of the most probable hated things on the planet, Apple and Taylor Swift.
To be fair we didn’t associate ourselves with either party; those people associated themselves with us. I have to say that I use an iPhone so I suppose that I must have, at some point, bought into the dream (laughter).
How close are we to seeing a new Darkness studio album?
Very close, we are actually in the studio in Fulham at this very moment. We are actually in the process of writing a new album as we speak.
I had heard a rumour that you were about to sign with a major label, is there any truth in that?
That’s right, we are currently in talks with a major label so we will have to see how that pans out for us. Let me tell you that we are throwing everything at it this time and we will not be censoring ourselves at all. We are going to be as silly as we want to be.
What can you tell me about the new album?
What can I tell you about the new album, let me see, well it is going to be silly, heavy, and probably quite rude as well (laughter). It is going to be rude and in your face which I have to say is Rufus’ influence (laughter).
When are you hoping to get the album out by?
We are hoping to have it available very early next year, probably either February or March.
Will you do a headline tour on the back of the new album?
We will wait and tour on the back of the new album. We will most probably play a few select dates at the end of this year but we will be launching the album overseas and then we will be back in the UK next summer hitting the festivals in a really big way. Let’s just say that we will be dipping our toes in it this year but will be hitting it in a very big way next year.
In 2007 Justin launched a failed attempt to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest. Is that something that you would ever be interested in?
For you was it always going to be a career in music?
No I always wanted to be a football commentator but I developed a stammer so I couldn’t do that. After that I thought that I would try being a football journalist, interviewing sports people and writing about them but then when all else failed I thought fuck it I will be a rock star (laughter). So being a rock star was the consolation prize for me (laughter).
Are there any ambitions left for you to achieve?
Yes, we want to reconquer and rescale the heights that we had and that is why we are throwing everything into the next album. We would love to headline Glastonbury.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
What I have to tell you is that I don’t hold much stock in music awards because they don’t really mean that much. I am the kind of person who is always looking forward and never looks back so I would have to say that the highlight has yet to be achieved. I think that it is going to be The Darkness rescaling the heights that we scaled before simply because to come back is the hardest thing to do. But having said that there is no reason why we can’t do it.
Frankie thanks once again for taking the time to speak to me and I am really looking forward to seeing you here in Nottingham at Splendour.
It’s been a pleasure Kevin, thanks very much and I will see you later. Bye for now.