Darkness descends over Scranton
First Posted: 5/28/2013
Frankie Poullain, of The Darkness, joined The Weekender for a drink and a chat at the Irish Wolf Pub (503 Linden St., Scranton) on Monday, May 20, the evening before the glam rock band’s Philadelphia show. The Scottish bass player is a founding member of the group, formed in 2000 out of Lowestoft, England.
THE WEEKENDER: Tell us a little bit about what draws you to, as you’ve been labeled, the “glam rock” or “hard rock,” world?
FRANKIE POULLAIN: The people involved in it are generally good people because they have a quality where they’re prepared to stand up to ridicule. I think there’s something very strong – there has to be something quite strong – about the disposition of somebody who is prepared to dress like that, put themselves on the line like that… The people have a sense of humor, so that makes for a kind of courage, humor, and so, in a sense, the ridiculousness.
It’s really nice because you don’t know how far you can push it. Just the parameters are much wider to do exactly what we’re doing… The people who ridicule you, it’s nice to get up their noses anyway, because generally the people who ridicule that kind of thing and feel kind of challenged or affronted by it are often not very nice people.
W: Do you believe that The Darkness has a certain brand of fans, then?
FP: Generally, people are quite positive, actually, yeah… But, then again, I don’t spend much time with the fans. I’m not really judging them. I only see them at the gigs. (Laughs) They’re happy at the gigs. I will go as far to say the one thing: they’re not people who would dwell on the dark side, too much… They’re not people who would wallow. Yeah. What’s the opposite of wallowing?
W: Um, prancing?
(PHOTOGRAPHER) JASON RIEDMILLER: Reveling?
FP: There’s revelers and prancers; that’s our fans.
W: Have you been in another band before this one?
FP: Yeah, we were in a band where (singer) Justin (Hawkins) was the keyboard player, a band called Empire. Dan was on guitar, I was on bass, with a different singer. We auditioned Justin as singer and he failed the audition because he was too shy.
W: Really? Justin was too shy for auditions?
FP: Yeah, yeah.
W: The first time I auditioned for a choir in college, I got so nervous I cried, forgot my music, and sang “Jingle Bells.”
FP: How old were you?
FP: Oh my God.
W: I was so nervous I said, “I don’t remember my songs. I can’t sing 18 bars of anything, except ‘Jingle Bells.’”
FP: Did you change quite drastically after that?
W: Yeah, then I was singing and dancing onstage.
FP: Dancing too? …You’ve compensated… Like with Lady Gaga, we toured with her; you could see how insecure she was in person.
W: How was that?
FP: She was obviously very insecure about, I guess, her looks, so she overcompensates. And that’s what makes her special… All the great rock and roll personas are freaks because rock and roll is a kind of like, all the great stars are kind of overcompensating, you know? Because it’s overt by nature, isn’t it? …That’s where rock and roll is basically dying, or almost dead, is that people are the opposite of that now.
W: How do you approach your onstage physicality?
FP: You just kind of feel it, I suppose.
W: Do you find yourself going into a certain character in your mind?
FP: Probably, yeah. Yeah, exactly. Just a little bit. But you don’t really do it consciously. It’s playing an extension of yourself. You don’t want to think too much, that’s the thing. That’s why it’s hard to answer the question because it’s not really about thinking. It’s just kind of…trying to make something or other, but you’re not really trying to be one person; you’re trying to be all the things that you want to be, maybe… That’s the thing, it’s aspiration… Well, aspiration…in the sense of toward something which is less controlled, so it’s an anti-control kind of thing, aspiration towards (Laughs) – that actually sounds quite “Spinal Tap.” But the question was quite “Spinal Tap.”
Frankie informed us that, “In Scotland, ‘scran’ means food that has or is being asked for.” Appropriately, after our round at the Irish Wolf, we met with the band and friends for dinner at Russell’s Restaurant (1918 Ash St., Scranton) before heading to The Bog (341 Adams Ave., Scranton).
“We were all charmed by Scranton,” reflected Poullain. It’s safe to say the charm was mutual.