The Darkness! The Darkness hardly need an introduction as they make their way back to Australia for their biggest tour to date which includes playing at Groovin’ The Moo 2017. Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles spoke to Frankie Poullain about album number five which is in the works as well as the much talked about documentary on the band.
The love affair with Australia continues, you must be looking forward to the biggest tour The Darkness have done here in Australia?
Yeah, in terms of the amount of gigs it is the biggest run. I really am looking forward to it because we’re in the studio at the moment and it is going great working on number five with Adrian Bushby who has worked with Foo Fighers and Muse. The last time we played was just before Christmas so I’m getting itchy now.
How is the new album shaping up?
The new album is going to be coming out in September and it is a fresh new start. The last album was obviously made in a state of flux, Ed had left the band and Emily Dolan Davis joined us on drums for that album. Now we have a fixed line up with Rufus Taylor on drums and he’s kicking some serious jams in the studio, we’re very excited! He’s upped the whole ante for the band. It is never easy making an album, you don’t want it to be easy, it has got to be hard work and a struggle. You have to turn that struggle in to something beautiful.
It is really hard to create something original and find something that sounds fresh and not clichéd is the biggest challenge. We always feel with Justin’s imagination, humour and the twists he puts on things is one of our strengths as a band avoiding the tired, mediocre clichés that most rock band used.
Still a harder rock sound?
For sure, it will be our heaviest album. Heaviness has never been our main priority and I guess in the past it has been more about melody and trying to create a euphoric vibe. This time there is a lot of power but that’s not to say there are not ballads as well. There’s a lot of intense beauty as well.
Did things naturally gravitate that way?
Rufus is a power drummer, he’s young, virile, blonde and drums can be twenty five percent more blonde than our previous albums.
What’s the final number of songs you worked on for the album and will we get a preview on the Groovin’ The Moo tour?
Fourteen! There’s a couple of collaborations as well but we can’t talk about that until it comes out in September. I think we’ll play two or three new ones each night on tour.
How do you feel about the whole rock genre at the moment and do you get concerned where it is going?
Sometimes, the other night we had off and we were in a bar and we heard some Black Keys, Queens Of The Stone Age and Foos stuff and it had this whole old school PA vibe which sounded good. For a moment I was optimistic and most of these songs had come out ten years ago so it is not all despair. I find that a lot of the problem is production techniques. I find that bands are tempted to just program and polish too much and overly compress the sound when you just want to hear the band playing. We recorded most of our album live and all the backing tracks are live with guitars, bass and drums bringing back that raw energy – that is our duty and our purpose!
Will album number five be released again through Pledge Music or a similar type of platform with a big campaign?
I think we will do things like that for sure and I think we are doing Pledge again. There will be a fan club as well offering different types of incentives and I think that will be called D-Force. We have a few new things happening there.
Is the documentary on the band still continuing and likely to see a release?
Yeah, it will be a full length feature documentary and we have about four hundred hours of footage in the can. Behind the scenes footage it certainly isn’t a vanity project but it is about finding the right kind of story to focus on. At the moment there’s a lot of behind the scenes work being done with producers, directors and story tellers who are shaping it in to something.
It’s not to do with the music but the people and it is a documentary delving in to the human condition, human nature, a human animal much like being a creature from another planet looking at these crazy things being human beings, looking at how they behave. I guess we always filter how we look at humans so a great documentary film maker can make us look like humans on a nature program.
Was it as revealing as what you thought it would be and asking the questions like where did you get that footage?
For sure, after two or three months we didn’t notice that the cameras were there but were with us all of the time. It probably will be excruciating for us to watch and will cause a few arguments but you have to take risks in this world to be able to bring something new to the table. One of the risks that you take is that you have to have injured pride, ego and vanity most important thing to do. You have to sacrifice those things to make something special for the people… make a fool of yourself! That’s one thing we haven’t been scared of during the years is making fools of ourselves.
How far back in to the career of The Darkness do you go?
We are using a lot of archive footage for years ago but generally most of it will be from the last few years. There’s a lot of Australian tour stuff on YouTube and there will be a reference or two to that. I guess we may talk about things that happened like a run in with The Strokes and our friendship with The Dandy Warhols. It was exciting for us then as an up and coming band mixing with all those different people.
Will the documentary coincide with the album release?
The documentary will be out next year at the earliest but may well be longer. It’s not the sort of thing you can rush. The cameras will be rolling in Australia so if anyone wanted to do something crazy or something memorable or something that can be added in to the documentary that doesn’t involve guns they’re welcome!
Interview by Rob Lyon
The Darkness are touring with Groovin’ The Moo and playing side shows in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. More info at Select Touring.