Before their ram packed show at the Leeds O2 Academy we got to sit down with bassist Frankie Poullain and drummer Rufus Taylor of legendary UK rockers The Darkness to discuss their latest album, the current state of the UK music scene, why Coldplay can’t write a Christmas song and more.
HTF: Let’s start things nice and easy. How’s the tour treating you so far?
Rufus: Really Well. We have just come off a long couple of months in North America, Canada and Australia so then we had just 10 days off and started the UK one. I’d say we are feeling pretty match fit at the moment.
Frankie: Yeah October is when I think we started over in the States. Six week stretch and first time all together. We got great reactions everywhere but back home haha. Our partners weren’t to pleased we’d be away for that long.
HTF: 2015 has seen the release of latest album Last Of Our Kind. Have you been happy with the reaction to it so far?
F: Very. It got to number 4 in the Classic Rock albums of the year. Number 3 in something else. I think or maybe it was track 3 on the cover CD
R: Let’s just say it got to number 3
F: OK, it got to 3.5
HTF: Although you have a sound that is ‘your sound’. No two albums have been simple rehashes of the last. What influences did you have going into this record?
F: I’d say this was an escapist album. We got away to Ireland and just escaped really for this album. We had a lot of decisions to make. We went through two sets of managers, different record labels, of course we changed drummer , they just wasn’t fit to continue. Lots more people in the background. It is an escapist album. We have a track about the Viking Invasion of East Anglia.Then we have some silly stuff like ‘Open Fire’ and ‘Mud slide’. I mean in ‘Open Fire’ Justin (Hawkins – singer/guitarist) is dissecting goth culture in that song. Saying his answer to misery and depression is a hug in a sheepskin rug in front of an open fire. Although there are some songs about girlfriends on there too.
R: Yeah you don’t really want to mix the Viking songs about raping and pillaging with the song that is about your missus. It’s never a good look
HTF: When you first started you grew organically and without any label backing, very much on the DIY route. You even sold out the now defunct but legendary London Astoria whilst unsigned. Did that give you an ‘us against the world’ mentality and if so has that kept till this day?
F: Oh yes I think that is the best way to go. It’s the way Manchester United worked under Alex Ferguson, if you see everyone as against you then you fight harder. It works well, it’s a very good tactic to use. It creates a kind of defiance and determination. Rock N’ Roll has always come from that outlaw kind of census. I mean it is weird where Rock N’ Roll is nowadays. there was a time where the rock was the mainstream but how it is now is that if you play in a Rock n’ Roll band you are the outsiders of the entertainment world.
HTF: What has happened to the British music scene. Of course there are hundreds of amazing bands out there who toil away on the underground scene but where have all the rockstars gone, the type we used to get in the glory days and who do you listen to at the moment?
R: Yeah it seems people forget it has to be about the songs, it has to be about the performance, personalities. I don’t follow any band who can’t in someway be able to take the piss out of themselves y’know? I just get so bored so easily by bands like that who just take themselves too seriously. You have to be able to have a laugh and when you do find a band that can do that, they have that personality then it comes across on stage. You see they are enjoying it then you as a member latch on to that and enjoy it more yourself.
At the moment, UK wise I enjoy Royal Blood. They are great to be honest though I haven’t been keeping my ears very open.
F: At the moment guitar music wise……. Jesus….. I just tend to link to the past. That’s how the Darkness evolved really. We just look to the past.
HTF: As the years have past it seems the good old days of the traditional Christmas songs have almost been killed off be The X Factor and other such crap. You have been keeping the tradition alive over the years but how important do you think it is to the traditional British Christmas?
R: Also the death of Top Of The Pops played a strong part in ending that
F: It’s great, it is good to have great christmas songs
R: It used to be important. At least there are some people keeping it alive. I’m not being biased in anyway. Even if I wasn’t involved, I was thrilled to learn that we had a new Christmas song.
F: A lot of bands try it. Coldplay tried it a few years ago but it didn’t get much attention. You have to approach Christmas songs in a certain way and the way Coldplay work, to my ears anyway, the music is quite cynical. You can tell it’s a bit contrived and you can’t do that when doing a Christmas song. It has to be from the heart, the message can not be contrived. I just thought it was awful haha
HTF: OK, we have talked what makes a good Christmas song. We need to know what you think are, in your heart, the best Christmas songs of all time.
F: Oh yikes, ok. Well ‘Last Christmas’ (Wham), it’s obvious but it’s great. ‘Stay Another Day (East 17).
R: I was actually thinking about this earlier but now can’t think of anything. It’s when I get put on the spot my mind just goes blank. I did watch ‘A Very Murray Christmas” on Netflix last night and that was brilliant, I just loved it. It’s Bill Murray and a bunch of different guests in a load of situations set in a TV show, it has loads of Christmas classics in there and I highly recommend.
HTF: What is next for The Darkness. After this tour, what can we expect from you in 2016?
F: Eastern Europe, back to the States, Festivals and in between we are going to be writing songs for the next album. We are going to do the next record quicker. We took a year off before and I doubt very much we will do that again. We don’t want to spend as long on this next one, make it more distinctive, make a good little rock n’ roll album. It’s going to be fun, heavy and riff based. We are actually playing two of new songs live now, one Rufus titled called ‘Rack Of Glam’ it is about the male relationship with the mammary glands
R: The fun bags!…….mmmmmm lets think about that for a bit