There’s a reason I Heart Local Music never misses a show with The Darkness. The British rockers bring a class of rock and roll to the stage that’s rare to come by anymore. From their hard-hitting riffs to explosive energy onstage, fans always find a reason to return to their live shows consistently.
This Wednesday, they’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of an album that helped launch their career, Permission to Land, with a reissue and tour stop at the Truman in Kansas City. We chatted with bassist Frankie Poullain about what the band will be bringing to the show, and the key to their longevity in the music business:
IHLM: Congratulations on the reissue. Can you discuss any special additions with the reissue, or with the tour in support of the reissue?
FP: Thank you kindly! Rare gems that we have delved into the archive for, the foundation upon which our later vaudevillian escapades were constructed. A metaphor for planet Earth itself, if you will. We dared to venture where others were too embarrassed to. In short, just buy the fucking thing and come see our British asses.
IHLM: I’ve been watching and covering your band since the first time Permission to Land came out in 2003. That’s a wonderfully long career in the music world, especially considering the amount of energy y’all bring to the stage. Some bands could take notes. What would you include in those notes for a ragingly long career?
FP: This question pleases me and I enjoyed talking to you previously too. I’ll be honest with you though, I don’t believe in time, apart from of course the fear of death, which secretly lurks like a medieval scavenger. And that in a nutshell is the key to a long career: ‘fear of death’.
IHLM: I’m seeing some rock bands emerge over the last few years who love the vintage sound, with some even going as far as using strictly vintage instruments and recording gear (Neal Francis, for example). How has your band always managed to nail down that classic rock-and-roll sound? I know you’re a dedicated Gibson Thunderbird player.
FP: It all comes from attitude which in turn dictates sensibility. We believe in irreverence, contrariness and not taking certain things seriously, the things that twats tell us we should take seriously. Whenever we veer from that we produce our worst material.
IHLM: I’d love to know your plans for after this tour. Any new albums on the horizon?
FP: We are working on our next album already, an album to showcase a return to arenas in the UK, and *ahem …..parts of Australia. It feels like a very special time for us, a sweet spot, the warmth just oozes from our get-togethers, and when that molten lava hardens we got ourselves a musical Pompeii…….or something like that.
IHLM: What are your fans like?
FP: Like the residents of Pompeii, one year before it all kicks off and our volcano of an album comes out.
IHLM: Everyone gauges their success differently. What marks a successful show from you (other than, you know, high ticket sales).
FP: Love and laughter, and variations thereof.
IHLM: I’ve been photographing and covering your band for many years. I’ve always considered The Darkness to be a very easygoing band to work with. One time, Justin called all the photographers back into the pit to take some extra photos, which is very generous. Another time, you threw a guitar pick and got me right in the forehead (I was changing a lens and not looking), and it ended with some good laughs and you sharing my photo (pictured left) of your reaction the moment it hit my head online. This all leads me to believe that The Darkness has a pretty unbothered attitude. How do y’all maintain the carefree spirit during a rigorous tour schedule?
FP: The prodigious passing of wind. The sole reason for men in very close proximity for long stretches of time miraculously managing not to kill each other. Darwin and Freud missed that one.
IHLM: Sometimes people call The Darkness the last great rock band, but I’d like to argue that there are a lot of good rock bands still emerging. What are some of the newer rock bands you’ve been enjoying?
FP: There are many good ones, my ex-wife’s for example, ‘Pushy Pushy Pushy’. (I am contractually obliged to mention the band in every interview as part of the divorce settlement). But they are actually very good.
IHLM: On that note, I’d love to know what’s in your headphones these days. Who do you enjoy listening to or watching play live?
FP: I’ll be honest with you here: Bill Evans, The Beatles, Sleaford Mods, Delius, Nina Simone, Harry Nilsson and Loudon Wainwright III. Alas I can only watch one of them live.
IHLM: In honor of your reissue for Permission to Land, what are five of your favorite reissues that you enjoy?
FP: Classical music reissues, apart from Wagner perhaps. Our greatest tribute to nature resides in the music of Beethoven, Delius, Dvořák, Schubert, Rachmaninov and so on. We need to reconnect with nature, and that includes trees, flora, fauna and fungi. At the same time, we need to more fully understand our ‘human nature’ and own up to it. Jeez I sound naive…
IHLM: It’s been an exciting 20 years since Permission to Land’s release. What do you hope happens in another 20 years? We’ll call it Frankie’s hopes and dreams. 🙂
FP: I hope that human beings become human beans.