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  • Writer's pictureThe James Kennedy Podcast

#52 - Frankie Poullain - The Darkness

Frankie Poullain is the Bassist in the multi-platinum band, The Darkness. We chat about the band's 20th anniversary reissue of their album 'Permission to Land...Again', their upcoming tours & documentary as well as the music industry, the reality of life in a band and even a little politics. Hear our conversation at : https://linktr.ee/jameskennedypodcast


TRANSCRIPT


JAMES KENNEDY

Hello, my friends. Welcome back to the James Kennedy Podcast. We're doing it again. Another surprise bonus, totally unplanned episode. I know I'm supposed to be taking a hiatus from podcasting right now to focus on my book. But, you know, if you get offered the opportunity to interview a member of the Darkness, what are you gonna do? Say sorry, dude. I'll get back to you in a few months time. No, you're just gonna say fucking hell, yeah, Let's do it Tuesday. So that's what I did. And that's what I've done. And that's what you're gonna be listening to in about five minutes time, Baby. That is the perk of being your own boss. I can do what the fuck I like No syndicator, no network, nobody telling me what I can and can't do. And when I can and can't do it, I can do what the hell I like when I want to do it. And new lucky listeners get an extra surprise bonus episode straight out of the blue. And who knows? There may be another one coming soon. Or maybe not. Who knows what is life without surprises?


Loads been happening at this end, man. Since the last time we spoke - and the underdogs are officially performing, Baby. That's right, man. We did a headline gig at the West Gate in Newport, our hometown, two weeks ago, and as of this weekend, I've just gotten back from doing a shit load of gigs at the Awesome Beautiful Days Festival in Devon. Man, what a weekend we had. I mean, we we got there, it was pissing down with rain on the Friday and within an hour of me arriving, I had to do like a solo acoustic slot for, like, an hour in the rebel tent, which was awesome. And then, literally a few hours later in the evening, we did a full band set, and it was fucking rammed in there. It was a really, really good like start to the weekend. A few beers and whiskey were had. All of our gear got absolutely fucking destroyed in the rain. So we had to cart it back to the hotel and take it all apart and literally fucking drain water at the side inside of our amplifiers and everything, which was a bit worrying, but, amazingly, it all still worked.


And then we had a day getting pissed and setting it up and watching all the amazing bands that played there. And then Sunday we had another full band show. And because we had the one on Friday and I used that as an opportunity to plug the Sunday show Fuck, it was Rammed dude! Like the people were, like, queuing outside to get in to see us. It was it was fucking carnage in this sweltering hot And a lot of guys dressed up as the Clangers came in and I dragged them in right to the front. So we were kind of like finishing the show with a bunch of dancing fucking mice. Human size mice at the front of the stage, which was pretty awesome. And it was a really, really fun show. It was rammed in there. Great vibe. So thanks to everyone that came out to check us out and all the new people that we met along the way as well, I was absolutely fucking exhausted after finishing that show mag. It was so hot in there. We gave it our absolute all and and within half an hour of finishing, I had to moderate a talk about the music industry and streaming with, our good friend, Mr Tom Grey. Previously of the Podcast and also previously of the Podcast Mr Mark Chadwick, singer of the Levellers and also also of the Levellers. Mr. Dan Donnelly joined us as well last minute.


So that was really interesting. It was still a packed house because we were just following Mark Chadwick's Sunday solo slot. So everybody was packed out for that one. And that went really, really well as well. But I was juggling. I was juggling two different roles. I was juggling being the front man of a fucking sweaty, loud swear rock and roll band.

And then Mr Podcast mode had to be, engaged within 30 minutes of finishing. So that was, that was intense, but it went really, really well. Great talk and really informative. And everybody was on form and on point, as as you would expect. And then just when you thought it couldn't get any better, we thought, Man, we're fucking dominating this place. We've had four performances of of one variety or other over the course of these two days when you just when you thought you couldn't get enough of the underdogs in one festival, I was watching our good friend Skindred from the side of the stage on the main stage. They were they were standing in for the Proclaimers who had to pull out due to illness. Just before the the final headline out the weekend the Levellers were playing. So we were watching skin and they were absolutely fucking tearing up, as you would expect as they do. Nobody does it better, man, as the outro track that they perform to says nobody does it better. That band is like, well, fucking unquestionably one of, if not the best fucking live bands in the game right now. They just absolutely They know what they're doing and is a master craftsman within five minutes of being on stage. Just had the whole fucking field in the palm of his hand. We were loving it, right?


So we're watching it from the side of the stage and, on the last song, when Skindred to Warning and they did the Newport Helicopter, I'm thinking Oh, you would go. I fucking love this song. And then Benji, the singer, gestures over to me to join him on stage. So I'm thinking, OK, fuck it. Let's go. So I run over, grabbed the mic, and, yeah, I joined him for the whole song and Benj said, Do you want to stay and do the helicopter? I was like, Well, fucking hell, yeah. So did the Newport Helicopter in front of 17,000 people. That was a great fucking crack. And what a great way to go out and finish the, what what was a really, really cool weekend?


So all in all, not bad for our first two weeks of gigging, you know what I mean? It was it was it felt like a really good welcome back to a life that I haven't been leading now for a few years due to, many, many reasons, such as Covid and losing my father and then, you know, the police assault and all that nonsense and getting PTSD and being ill for the past seven months. It's mad to think that, like only a few months ago, I was bed bound and unable to do basic shit. And now here I am jumping around with Skindred on the main stage in front of like, you know, nearly 18,000 people at beautiful Days Festival. So, yeah, I feel like, I feel quite proud of, you know, the transition that's happened in the space of this year so far, and it's really, really, really good to be back feeling like myself again in my natural habitat and doing what is my true calling. And, bring on a lot more of that and hopefully there will be a lot more of that coming.


So, if you want to find out where we're playing next, please go to JamesKennedystuff.com/tribe and then join the mailing list there, enter your town and your email address, and if we're coming near your town, we'll let you know and please come and join the madness.


But that's enough about me. We are here today to talk to the one and only Mr Frankie Poullain from the absolutely in Insanely incredible awesome. Brilliant. Everyone loves them. You know who they are. You don't need me to big them up. We're talking about the Darkness. These guys have got tonnes and tonnes of shit happening right now, they're touring all over the world with their amazing live show. They've got a 20th anniversary reissue coming out of their their first classic album, Permission to Land, and they're calling it Permission to Land...Again. There's a documentary, there's talk of a book, there's and man, it's all kicking off honestly, So I can't wait to get into this and ask Frankie what the lowdown is, what's happening and also get his thoughts on, you know, my usual points of interest, such as the music industry. And you know who who knows, might even get into a little bit of politics.

So without further ado, in my opinion, the coolest member of the band with the best hairstyle Let's welcome on to the show, Mr Frankie Poullain. How are you, sir? Thank you for joining us.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Very good. And even better hearing my name pronounced correctly for the first time in 20 years.


JAMES KENNEDY

Well, it I will admit it was a bit of a risk. It was a bit of a gamble, but I am learning French, and I thought that the spelling seemed to make sense to me. So I'm glad I got it right.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

It was impeccable pronounciation


JAMES KENNEDY

What you get is poulayne? Is that the standard?


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Yeah. Everyone says, you know, even even the guys in the band once, you know, we we did this song once, all about, it was called Second Fiddle. It was Dan talking about how he's always second fiddle to his brother. It was a song for the fans and all about the band and everything. And, Justin even managed to do a false rhyme where he managed to rhyme Eddie Graham with Frankie Poullan


JAMES KENNEDY

Ah, Nice. Like it


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Yeah, yeah, yeah, that was big.


JAMES KENNEDY

But what's happening, man? What's going on? You guys have got a load of things happening right now, so fill us in.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Well, at the moment I'm in Cornwall. We we're on a songwriting trip for our would it be eight album. And we're also about to undertake rehearsals in a couple of weeks for the 20 year anniversary world tour, which is going to be in the States first of all, and then we're gonna hit Europe UK, then Australia, Japan...


JAMES KENNEDY

And this is the 20th anniversary of Permission to Land right, which is called, which is called Permission to Land...Again?


FRANKIE POULLAIN

So here we are again. But, you know, we'll be doing a lot of rare B sides, and there'll be a few surprises in the set, too. We've just been working on the set design, and, it's gonna be, yeah, we're putting a lot into it because this is possibly our last tour before We're back in arenas for the next album. We've really done really well in the UK and Australia and we've gone from, you know, the theatres to the arenas. So it's really good times for us at the moment. Then we got a documentary coming out later in the year as well.



JAMES KENNEDY

Oh, nice, Yeah, 100% man! Dude, I mean, yeah, like the package for, the the reissue that's coming out is absolutely incredible. Man, there is so much stuff on offer there. It's available for preorder right now, and there's like there's a four disc edition. It's coming out on multi multi vinyl options as well. With, you know, loads of info on the on the album and stuff like that Tell us about the package, man. It's available to preorder right now. Yeah?


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Yeah, there is. And there's lots of, commentary from the guys a little bit from me as well.

All kinds of their photographs and and rare recordings as well live recordings from back in the day and bonus tracks and all that kind of thing, you know? So yes, for the fans.



JAMES KENNEDY

Yeah, it looks absolutely gorgeous. And like I said, you are playing absolutely everywhere as well. So yeah, you've got a busy year coming up and good to know that, you know, your your your songwriting as well at the moment. And with with plans to do some marina tours and and new stuff coming up as well. I mean, are you guys have you guys got a forecast now for like, the next two years or so, Or are you just focusing on now or what's happening?


FRANKIE POULLAIN

We're taking our time with this album we've given ourselves. We've worked really hard in the last few years. We got everything back in even Keel after Covid, we put a lot of work, and we did like a seven metre of the States, and we were the first band, actually, for a lot of people in the States, The first band after Covid.So that was an experience.


JAMES KENNEDY

Oh, man, I can imagine. Yeah. And like you guys are so good life as well such a fucking killer life show. So I can imagine that after, after all that time off, people would just fucking blow their minds. I mean, dude, I'm so jealous. I mean, I'm in a band myself and then, like, you know, obviously at a much different level to you guys. And I just imagine that like, it's so hard, you know, for for most bands. And when we look at guys who were, like, flying and soaring the heights that you guys are, we imagine that like it's all trouble and that you have no problems at all, and everything is taken care of. And it's all sex, drugs and rock and roll and glitz and glamour and decadence and ease. And, I'm just fascinated to know the true reality behind the scenes. I mean, is that where it's at for you guys now, or do you still have challenges and struggles even at the level that the Darkness is soaring at now.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

It's all about companionship, brotherhood, you know, chemistry because you know, you go through the heart because the struggle is really where it's at. You know, that's that might sound wanking for me to say, but the struggle is what bonds you together, and that can be a really enjoyable thing. You know, if you've got that chemistry and you got to be able to have a laugh, you know, and, we got a lead singer. You know, we're really lucky to have a guy like him who who doesn't doesn't take anything seriously. He doesn't take himself seriously anymore. That's so rare in the lead singer. He hasn't got any of those annoying traits. The most almost all lead singers have, you know, So that's great, you know, and, we've got also a pair of brothers who done, have, like, a kind of passive aggressive or a kind of unhealthy relationship in any way. It's really inspirational. They got great parents then, Justin, you know, really good people who sacrificed a lot for them. That's really where it comes from, You know, their father built like a garage where they could, record and play and really supported them as well, you know, And their mom was a really big into the seventies and eighties kind of scene back in the day. And that's, you know, we talk about that. We've we've touched on that is touched in this in the documentary, almost like the link with Justin's mom coming back from, a club in Carnegie Street and how she saw Brian Jones in a pink Catsuit.

You know, that's kind of almost the thing that they kind of set it off, you know?


JAMES KENNEDY

So what's the nature of the documentary, then? Man, that sounds super interesting. Is it kind of like a traditional rock and roll behind the scenes, following your guys around doing the thing sort of thing? Or is it more to do with the the human and the relationship side of things?


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Well, it's not what people are gonna expect it is. There are silly bits, and there's definitely surreal bit, so I would say it's more surreal than silly. But the director, Simon Emmet, who, funny enough, comes from a fashion background, but he also has a bit of history in making these documentaries. He did one about Barnett Football Club and about the link between Barnett and the community up there and the link between these eccentric fans who, just had this obsessive passion for Barnet. And he's done the same with the Darkness bands He's focused on that he's also focused on our kind of passion and kind of love kind of for a music form, which is kind of dying out, really. You know, it's, not quite archaic, but it's people call it heritage, don't they? You know, they're kind of rocking, you know, over the old kind of classic rock bands. We're still kind of carrying that on in spite of everything. And there's been times where we've been like the laughing stock. Sometimes people laughing at us, sometimes people laughing with us. I guess that's the, the big differentiation.

So the documentary explores all these things, and it also touches on some quite emotional, things that would be kind of maybe hard core and quite depressing and other bands. But the way that we've managed to kind of laugh at things that have happened some quite dark moments, health issues and of course you know the break up of the band as well.

So yeah, it's all there, and it's a lot more emotional. People will think, and it was uncomfortable for us, but that's a good thing. To make a good documentary. We have to be uncomfortable. And it has to really be about the human struggle because, you know, back in the day we tried to do a documentary covering all the success in 2003 to 2004. But that's not good to watch. Human documentaries are almost always, invariably, about the human struggle, and that's what makes them.


JAMES KENNEDY

Well, yeah, that that sounds right up my street. Man, that sounds fascinating, because it's that sort of stuff that I'm interested in because, as you said, yeah, we all love to watch a band sailing the fucking higher sites like you guys have. But after a while, I get a little bit like, OK, cool. We know about that. You know what I mean? Like, we know all the stories about Aussie and private planes and, you know, fucking strippers and cocaine and whiskey and all that sort of stuff. We kind of we know that story because it's been told, but it is. Still, we still love to see it because it is the dream that all of the rest of us kind of like hope to attain one day, but never do. But as you as I think, I totally agree with you when you say that, it's actually the deeper connection. The deeper resonance is that human struggle, that those universal themes that we can see like Oh wow, guys like the Darkness They still struggle, too. They still have their interpersonal conflicts or their mental health struggles or their substance issues, or whatever it might be. You know, this there's there's baggage that come with that lifestyle that we hadn't really considered because we haven't experienced that life. So I think getting an insight into that stuff is so much more interesting, I think and and resonates more emotionally. I think as well, exactly.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

And you got to put your vulnerability out there, you know, and, we did, and it wasn't necessarily enjoyable. But now, looking at it, it's uncomfortable for us. That's a good thing. I think, you have to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Maybe not quite as uncomfortable situation as us, but...


JAMES KENNEDY

Or Metallica in some kind of monster That was pretty cringe in places.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Yeah, the cringe factor is good, though I think it should be cringe because it is a bit ridiculous the way that we live our lives. So I think you almost have a duty to do that to put yourself out in the cringe factor. Because I guess ever since things like the history of Western civilization, you know, the metal years once that come out, you know, you just have to own it and just say, Yeah, yeah, yeah. This is ridiculous what we do, You know, we you know, we are dicks most of the time. And we're ridiculously fortunate. And it's such a strange way to live your life. So you have to, just yeah, expose it all as much as you can, anyway. Yeah, I totally agree. So I was just remembering something that Justin said once. So we were talking all about, doing something ridiculous again, you know, at some stage thing. And then, and then and then I mentioned, you know, there's a dignity kind of aspect and everything. And then Justin said that, and you can't lose something of which you haven't got any left, you know?


JAMES KENNEDY

Yes, you just own it. I love that man. Yeah, I love it because you're in.

You're in an interesting space as a band, Musically, visually, you know, in terms of the, the genre that you're associated with and everything, But I mean, the fact that you have fun with it and there's, you know, there's a tongue in cheek to it as well, as well as the great musicianship and the great show and the fucking amazing songs and everything like that. You you could tell that like, you don't take yourself too seriously as a band that totally comes through. There's a fun factor to it. And it's almost kind of like a little nod there to the Yeah, we know that, like, this is mental, but, you know, we're fucking doing it anyway, you know? And do you have, pockets of normality in this lifestyle? Then I mean, is it is it Is it rock stardom all the time? Or do you have Is it like rock star insanity for, like, six months and then, like complete normality for the rest of the year.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

No, there's too much normality. But, you know, really, if you really talk about what we do for a living, we're actually travellers because, 90 95% of our existence is taken up with just travelling. Just hang around airports sitting on, tour buses in our bunks or in the back lounge or the kitchen area. I mean, you know, it's a decent tour of us, but it's still travelling, and a lot of it is drudgery. So I guess you have to learn to kind of, you know, wind down and and, you know, wind it down and conserve your energy, and then you just wait and then you push all your energy out, you know, for that gig or whatever it is that you're doing on the video issue. But really, it's like we're mainly travellers, you know, killing time.


JAMES KENNEDY

Yeah, well, I guess at your level you're more like space travellers because, you know, the level that you guys operate as a band is kind of mostly unattainable. And it's for for most artists and beyond the comprehension of most people outside of this world as well because, you know, most people don't get to live or experience that life or saw the kind of heights that you guys do as a band, you know? So I can only imagine what kind of roller coaster that must be because it's intense enough, you know, at the transit van level, you know where where most fans operate. You know, when you're bored out of your mind for most of the fucking day, and then you launch face first into the mad rush of a live show before being curled back onto a dark, empty motorway again. It's just fucking weird, so I can only imagine how intensified that must be when you're doing it at the sort of level that you guys are.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Yeah, for sure. Yeah. The funny thing is, when you, go on stage, you have to suppress some of your kind of excitement and kind of collect yourself and compose yourself. But then the other side of things where it's the 95% but you're not doing exciting things, you have to almost generate excitement. So you doing the opposite things both times because both things are so extreme.


JAMES KENNEDY

Yeah, that's a really interesting point, actually. I mean, I, I talked a lot about my experience of falling apart as a human being as a result of this lifestyle in, in my book, noise damage. And I know that you you're a published author as well. You've written a book called Dancing In the Darkness where you chart your journey, into this world, which I haven't yet read, but I'd be fascinated to do so, But I'd also be interested to know How did you find the writing process? And, you know, was it quick and easy for you, Or did you find it Long winded and tedious?


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Yeah. I find it a bit Long winded and tedious. And I wouldn't do the same thing like that again. I tried to make it a bit tongue in cheek and silly, but, I would do something completely different. Next time, I wouldn't write from a first person perspective. You know, create like, an or do something like that, you know, be more interesting.


JAMES KENNEDY

Yeah, well, I'm currently I've I've actually made the same mistake twice. I'm actually coming towards finishing my second book now. I got a deal for my second book. My first book did really well. It went to number one on Amazon in three categories, which was awesome for for for about a day. It was the second best selling rock biography after Roger Dalry, which was amazing, considering it's about a band who didn't make it, didn't get signed no one ever fucking heard of. And I think it's the resonance of the book is very much what you were describing about the documentary, because I'm talking mostly about the struggle and there's no happy end and it didn't work out. You know, I think it resonated with the 99% of bands who also have that journey and don't make it to the Darkness level, you know, but the reason I mentioned that is because the second book I'm writing at the moment I've just finished writing a chapter on mental health in the music industry and how it's such a universal crisis there. And, I would love to ask you as a band that's been around a while now, and you've seen some pretty big highs and some pretty big lows, and you kind of alluded to it a little bit in the previous answer. But what are some of the things that you guys do to manage your mental health? To keep yourself all in good health, to look after each other to to keep a balance? What are some Some of the things that you guys do to keep the show on the road, but keep yourself happy and healthy. In the meantime.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Just don't take it so seriously. You know, I tried to practise self awareness and just learn to laugh at ourselves and just accept that human condition is human condition. Everyone's got kind of blind spots. And I guess you know we have a good chemistry in terms of, the different, What we need to represent. I mean, I there's a bit in the documentary where I say that, for a family, you know, then then is the father. Justin is a trophy wife. The drummer is the adolescent teenager, and I'm the weird uncle be and habit kind of different spaces and adopt different roles. Even if it is, some of it is subconscious. But in terms of mental health, yeah, just trying to be self aware and trying to challenge ourselves and just not to take ourselves seriously and kind of laugh at the mistakes. We don't reprimand each other. In fact, we actually encourage the mistakes in each other. And we highlight and draw attention to them and and then laugh at them rather than, recriminations. And really, we don't really like, you know, this the ego thing never really comes in, you know? Or if it does, then it's, I just never really notice any kind of real issues at all in the band. No. None whatsoever. Which is quite rare.


JAMES KENNEDY

Yeah, Yeah, it is really rare to, especially when you get to the sort of level that you guys out when you've got the crew and the support and the entourage and the funding and the fans and you're living in that kind of bubble world that you must live in a lot of the time, it must be very hard. So to have the internal weather, healthy. I think that makes that makes a big difference.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Yeah you have to. And also all the people that I enjoy as you mentioned, the crew, the wardrobe open the merch. Really, there's no room for anyone that has an attitude problem. So you have to really use your instinct there, and gradually you find yourself weeding people out, unfortunately, and you have to, and it's really for the best, you know, if you smell a rat or maybe a slight exaggeration. But if you just if someone's not kind of blending or not combining with other people, you really have to nip in the bud because these days has to function like a, well, old machine. You know, there can't be any kinks or anything, you know, because you have to make money from touring, so.


JAMES KENNEDY

That makes a lot of sense. And I think that's, that's essential at every level of the ladder. I mean, we had to. We had to lose a drummer, that band, who was probably the best musician I've ever fucking played with because he wanted to fight his way out of every club with a steel bar, and after a while, that just that just grinds everybody's gears. You know what I mean? So, yeah, you have to keep the, you have to keep like a like I said, that well oiled machine. There's no space for or, you know I don't think.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, the the really the attitude. The mentality is almost more important than having, like, the best technical kind of musician, or it's all about the combination and the blend in the chemistry.


JAMES KENNEDY

I'm so glad to hear that that same rule applies at the higher rungs of the ladder as well. That's that's great. Yeah, that's some great advice there for bands who are out there because it is tough right now. I mean, have you found it? It's gotten tougher with you guys with things like Brexit and coming out of Covid and stuff like that. I know, like the cost of touring is a lot higher Now. I know ticket sales have been, up and down as well. Have you have you guys found any effect good or bad as a result of any of those things coming out of Covid with Brexit or or is everything pretty much as it was?


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Yeah. All those things are a major pain in the arse. You know, Covid and Brexit, obviously, you know, nothing good could come out of that, but well, actually, I'll tell you what, something good can come out of it. Because what it does is it makes you dig deeper and compensate, you know, So it takes away any complacency. But it's obviously, like a pain in the arse. But you know something? We've been insulated from most of the bad effects by having great management who almost never put a foot wrong. And they've navigated our way out of these trigger situations. And now we're actually, in a better place than we have been for, 18 years.


JAMES KENNEDY

Really? Well, that's good to hear, man. And how do you feel about the music industry generally, then? Because, you know, you guys have come up during a time when we've seen the historic transition between the old model of, you know, C, DS and vinyl into the, you know, the digital and the streaming model. And obviously there's been a lot of readjustment. A lot of labels kind of fell by the wayside, and, you know, it took a while for everybody to figure to get their heads around how things work. Now you guys have been a band through that transition, you've seen both sides. Have you got any thoughts about you know, the state of the industry right now? Do you think it's in an interesting place, or is it any better or worse? What are your feelings?


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Well, there's less, arseholes, because you can't really afford arseholes anymore. The whole Kill Your Friends generation. And if you read that book by John Niven. Yeah, that kind of indulgence and the complacency of the late nineties early nineties has kind of died away. And now it's a reality now. And that is a shame, in a way, because there's less characters in the industry and this is it's more kind of functional. It's lost a bit, you know, Obviously, if you're looking for, real kind of indulgence, and you probably find more of the war than you do in their record, it's different.


JAMES KENNEDY

Yeah, I totally agree with you there, man. That's a great point as well. What are your thoughts on music streaming, then? This is a contentious issue. I know there's arguments for and against on both sides. What do you think? A force for good, A force for evil or something in between?


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Well, It was the Wild West Side there when these big corporations kind of created these platforms and made up the rules as they went along. Really? There's an argument to say that they're Gangsters, really? And yeah, obviously we're not paying enough. Everyone knows that because the idea is that, oh, people are going to such and such, because the platform is so great and they just haven't seen music on it, you know, it's not that they're going there. Oh, I listen to this band and so I'm gonna listen to this band, you know, some somehow The idea is that you're going into the platform first, you know, because it's so great, which is obviously nonsense, you know, so it is a bit unfair, but at the same time, you are getting a lot of exposure, and that is their argument is that you know, they're listening to you there and then the bank, A concert ticket. It's unfair. But that's the way it is not complaining about it. Well, actually, it probably is I but if people like Bob Geldof and, and the can't, change things and currently then I not sure who can. If the politicians are powerless against the corporations, then fans are even more powerless.


JAMES KENNEDY

Well, I guess you know, there's always the argument that you know, you you hit them where it hurts. You hit them in their pocket. And if enough people stop buying the fucking product and then stop using the service, then you know they're either forced to change or shut shop. I suppose you know, but whether that's going to happen, I seriously, seriously doubt it. I think Streaming is here to stay, and we just need to try and improve. You know, the model as it exists, which is gonna take a Long time, and it's going to be a lot of fucking collateral damage in that process. But for me personally, you know, I don't I see it as a bit more nuanced, I think, than that this argument is often presented. It's presented as Spotify as evil. They don't pay enough fuck spot. But I think that there's an argument for perhaps you know how Let's unfuck Spotify. You know, the model is clearly one that people like It's here to stay. Now we all use it. It can in theory, be a great exposure platform. It can be a great leader for discovery to to lead people, then towards your, you know, your merchandise and your concert tickets and your t-shirts and things like that. It's a great place to some music listening to discover new music. So you know, there are a lot of positives, but yeah, the remuneration rate sucks. It is terrible, but I think when people complain about that, they they they're sidestepping the issue that for most major artists that are actually using the platform, most of the people that are complaining about this with the loudest voice are people who are signed to legacy record deals. So it's not that that Spotify pay sucks, which it does, but so the 80% of what they get paid then gets given to their label, and then 20% gets divvied up amongst their fucking managers and producers and all the other middle men that have been locked into the into their contract. So it's it's a bit more nuanced than that, whereas for someone like myself, who is an independent artist who does everything DIY and does everything himself, I get all of the publishing. I get all of the label side. I get all of the production and artists and performance and songwriting so they get fucking everything. So I might not be shifting the kind of numbers that a major label artists work because I don't have that exposure or that added clout behind me. But what I do make is is 100% of mine. So for me, you know, Spotify pays a few bills every month. You know what I mean? Which is more than I had before. So I think it's I think it's a bit more nuanced than layer. But generally, yes. I mean, they need to pay a lot fucking more, and they need to also drop this This, this pro rata system that they've got, whereby they divvy up all the money against the highest streamed artist rather than divvying up the money depending on which paying listeners, what artists they're listening to, the the money that that I pay every month should be going to Bloodywood because that's all I fucking listen to. It shouldn't be going. It shouldn't be going to, to Ed Sheeran, which I never listened to. So that system is mental. There's a lot of structural things that need to change. But I think you're right. I mean it. It's David and Goliath, isn't it? I mean, how that's going to happen? I don't know.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Yeah, exactly. I can agree with you.You know, the point is, all comes down to the fact that it's free market capitalism. There's there's. There's hardly any area of life where this regulation, you know, over the beast that the free market kind of capitalism so you can, you know the problem is, is you can't just have regulation in one sector, not regulation in another. I happen to believe there should be regulation, because we all know that the the the the beast of free market capitalism has become, like and out of control. And it's, basically, causing the end of our existence on this planet. And you could argue, and we have all these countries behind us that are going to go through the same thing that we're going through. India, China, Brazil. So it's a much, much larger question than, just musicians, unfortunately, but yeah, it's of course, it's unfair and many things are unfair, you know, with the 1% of the population controlling 50% of the world's wealth, et cetera, et cetera. You know that's just a very brief summary and everything I know I'm not dealing with any issues specifically, but the principle is is that there should be more regulation across all sectors of life. You know, there should be like transport should be regulated. You know, you can't have the shareholders and rail companies just fucking with people's lives like they do. You know, people can't get to work and strikes. And there's delayed, planes and trains because it suits the shareholders to do that. You know, there's all kinds of shit going on This, in the words of Rita's father, in the words of Roger Taylor, Gangsters are running the world. You know, I'm not talking about drug dealers and Mafia, you know, you know we're talking about is the corporations who are Gangsters dressed up as businessmen.


JAMES KENNEDY

Oh 100% No, I totally agree with that. And I think you know, the drug dealers and the

Mafia are all part of the same class. It's just business, you know, the oligarchs and government and, you know, people with fucking billions stashed away in tax havens. And the the oil barons and the financiers. You know, they they all rubbing shoulders in the same places and and mixed in with that are the literal criminals, like, you know, the the the drug barons and the the mafiosos and things like that. They're all part of the same class, and they all exist to serve their own the interests of their own economic class. So yeah, I see them as literal criminals, you know? I mean, and if you look at how the rest of us fit into that picture and we have to pay taxation, which is essentially extortion money, like if you don't pay this money, then you know we're going to cut your fucking services off and send the fucking boys around, you know, aKa the police. Yeah, I think it's a kleptocracy, and it's it's I think it's worse now than it has been for a Long, Long time because for the reasons you said we just got this kind of free reign, reckless, unregulated capitalistic behemoth, which is just destroying the planet and everything on it, apart from the 1% who benefit from it.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Yeah, exactly. Well, well put. Yeah, I'm glad that, we both understand that, but it doesn't change the fact that, one can help fill in helpless. It's incredible how little the British protests. I mean, at least the French, you know, the French protest, and they do win some small victories, the French through protesting. But nothing makes people in this fucking country protest. It's just It's incredible, isn't it? It's the I mean, but it's pretty obvious to see that that comes from the nanny state, which comes from the monarchy.

I think psychologically, it all comes from that, and that part of it makes me sick. Iii. I felt even worse than sick. I felt nauseous. When the coronation was announced and the 10 day shutdown, when the When the queen died, I thought it was just obscene and just an insult. I always think. Think back to the first World War. You know, for a king and country, all these millions of work of working class, men just massacred for king and country. So the royal families of Germany and Britain could have their little squabble over having the palaces in the sun. You know, like their their colonies. Just obscene. You know, they're coming back to my original point. The French don't have a royal family, and that's why they protest, because they don't have that. That culture of obedience and servile kind of begging ball kind of servitude. Is that the word? Yeah. Anyway, I'm glad I'm speaking to a Welshman, so I'm sure you can that to a certain degree, the the angle English people don't seem to be. You know, you seem to offend English people so easily. I mean, not all English people, of course, but I'm talking about, you know, the the Southern. You know, I've been in the south of England for a Long time, and unfortunately, I've been faced with this, this awful kind of complacency and this kind of casual kind of, you know, this so casual about it all And just, you know, just this a to the hierarchy, and I guess they're happy. You know, the English middle class is something I think about it.


JAMES KENNEDY

Man, you are talking my language now. Dude, honestly, I feel like we should have gotten on to politics on the conversation. We have opened up the Pandora as boxing them, and I totally agree with you about the French. I mean, look at what's been happening over there recently. Those guys know how to fucking make a noise, man. I mean, you know, they literally chopped off the heads of the aristocracy and their royal family. I mean, you know, that's fucking awesome. You will never, ever, ever see anything like that in Britain. It's not going to happen. And like you, I blame this kind of apathetic, subservient, kissing the arse of those above you mentality that we seem to have over here where it's like, Oh, we've got a royal family. They're so much better than us. And if only if I kiss the arse of the guy above me there, maybe I can be like, rather than doing what the French do and take to the streets on Mass and saying, No, fuck the people above us. We're going to fucking burn it down. That's more my vibe. But it is never, ever, ever going to happen in Britain. And, you know, I blame not only that subservient attitude that you're talking about, where it's like, Oh, you know, doffing the cap to those above you and not making a noise and not making a fuss and just being a good little fucking servant, a good little peasant doing as he told and standing in line. But I also blame the pubs. You know, I think it's too easy to just go to the pub and have a fucking moan about it. But then don't do anything than to actually fucking rise up and get off your ass and change things for the better. I think you know, if they close the pubs down, you'd see a revolution by Tuesday. But it's almost as if we like this shit. We almost like having it bad. You know, it's weird.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Yeah, I think there's something masochistic about a large proportion of the English population, man.


JAMES KENNEDY

It's the only explanation I can think of as to why we've had the Tories in power for, like nearly 13 years now. We've got to actually enjoy the pain. It's the only expedition I could think of.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

I just noticed your Ramoes Tshirt, I was on. Do you know the song Rockaway Beach? Yeah. I was on Rockaway Beach just, 10 days ago. It's a great beach, just like you catch a ferry from, kind of Wall Street Pier. And, it's about an hour ferry ride. I was really impressed. You know, I had that kind of vibe in a vibe. It was a bit scuzzy, but really nice water, you know, and surf. You know, there's people surfing and boogie boarding.


JAMES KENNEDY

Nice. Nice. Yeah, I think punk rock the spirit of punk rock is, is is is always going to have a place in society, a necessary place in society. I think like that. And not necessarily. It doesn't have to be connected to the musical genre. You know, things need to evolve and change, but I think the ethos and the attitude of punk rock, I think is necessary. Certainly more now than ever before.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Yeah, the legacy is just amazing for a really small group of people. What they did and how they changed the culture. The best is just, you know, if it hadn't happened, what a huge chance and things would be even worse. It was a huge thing. Yeah, it really was, I met Chris. Hi back stage. I know people don't associate that with, but in terms of her role in them teaching Steve Jones to play guitar for one and just the way in which she because that's really what it's all about, is the attitude. It's not what you do. It's the way that you do it. And, and it's the way of doing things unapologetically. Anyway, yeah. I met her backstage at the guns, support gig at Hyde Park and loves her little privilege to meet her.


JAMES KENNEDY

Oh, I bet man pretty well that that's one of the the many perks I guess of, of what we do for a living is, not necessarily always about the financial pay. For for most of us, that's fucking nonexistent. But it is the travel. It's the stories. It's the people you meet along the way. It's the it's the memories that you get. I mean, what else are you going to do, Spend your life fucking, you know, sitting in a cubicle, You know what I mean? You know, punching numbers for some douche. You know, it's like, Oh, you're gonna be out there Yeah, OK, you're broke. But, hey, you just met your fucking hero at a festival or something. You know what I mean? Backstage and got to do a song with him or something. So or just, you know, being stuck in the arse end of Italy, living in a transit van, you know, and fucking wanting to strangle your manager. But that's still more exciting than being stuck in the office.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Surely agree with you more. Some of our best memories are in Italy. You know, we do really well there, apart from obviously having gear stolen there, you know, there is a bit of crime there, and and it's difficult to sell merch there, too, because of the bootleg culture, you know, But apart from that, that's kind of what I like about it, because it's kind of scuzzy and unpredictable. But the warmth of the friends and the the way they respond to our music is just really heart warming.



JAMES KENNEDY

Oh yeah, I love the place, man. I love the people. I love the culture. I love the history. It's one of my favourite places on earth. Man, I had great times visiting there and playing there as well, some of my most fondest memories of playing places in Italy, but sticking with punk rock just for a second because you mentioned, of course, the Ramones there in Rockaway Beach. And what an important genre punk rock has been and the spirit of punk rock. And I totally agree with that. I've got a theory that I think struggle is a major engine for great music and great social change, and often times the two go hand in hand. If you, you know, if you look at things like punk rock, hip hop, the blues, these are all game changing music, genres and social movements that were all born out of social struggle and personal struggle. And you mentioned earlier on the conversation how struggle has been an important part of your guy's journey. And I think the struggle is an often overlooked element in the creative process and the and the and the creative journey of artists. I mean, we live in a culture where everybody is obsessed with the winners and the wins and the glory. But really, I think if we look back at the moments that spawned our greatest developments in life and our greatest achievements. They all came from moments of struggle where we had to dig deep and make really difficult decisions and changes. We had to channel our inner strength and resilience and put aside our bullshit, you know, for something that's more important than giving up, you know? So I think the failure and struggle gets really overlooked in the obsession that we have with success and achievement and winners. So on that theme, instead of asking you now. But, hey, what's the biggest fucking gig you've ever done? And all that sort of bullshit stuff you answered 1000 times. I'd like to ask you more about the failure and the struggle that you guys have encountered along the way that has contributed to your stay in power and where you are as a band. Now, have there been any catastrophic struggles or failures or moments when it was all looking so good, and then it looked like it could all fucking fall through your fingertips at any point. But somehow you pulled it back and came back bigger, stronger and better than before.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Well, everyone knows about obviously 2003 to 2004 and I wouldn't necessarily call that. You know, we all know about the struggle, the conventional struggle that you had between 2000 to 2003, you know, in the hard yards and playing the pub circuit and then making it and then being in the right place at the right time and then having the right song. I believe the thing called love. So I don't really need to talk about that. But what's interesting? More interesting when you say a struggle is actually the comeback in 2011. So they come back with the original lineup. We hadn't seen each other for a few years. Even the brothers hadn't spoken for a while, and we got back together with Ed on drums and Graham on drums. And then we had, the management just wasn't right, so we didn't manage that comeback well at all. Even though we had a lot of eyes on us. We had a big comeback gig at download on the main stage in 2011. The management wasn't right. The organisation wasn't right. The label wasn't right, so there was a struggle after that. We also, unfortunately realised that he couldn't deal with some of his issues. So we see his health issues and his refuelling habits. So unfortunately, you know, we we lost him, and that was a struggle. So we'd say the album after the comeback album, The Comeback album was Hot Cakes. Not our best album, but it has its moments. But there were struggles with management, and then we lost. And then we were left with the second comeback album with with a new drummer.


And when I think back to that period is the last of our kind of them, I think back there was a real atmosphere of struggle myself. Dan and, Justin, just the three of us on an Irish island off the coast of Kerry. And I remember that as being the album that really, epitomised the struggle because we we've been given this opportunity to come back and be I wouldn't say we believe, But we didn't capitalise on it, and then there was just three of us left and we had to work up again and that album last. I kind of think it has a couple of big songs on it. Barbarian and open Fire and we really dug deep. You know, Dan Dan always digs deep, but he really did musically to to come up with, some amazing riffs and guitar work. And then Justin kind of was more emotive, I think on that album. So that man, to your question, You know, when I think of the Darkness and struggle, I think back to that album and we did have, Emily Dolan Davis, a female session drummer who who was great on the album and recorded an album with us. It was nice to have her with us, but then she didn't really want to tour with us. But that didn't feel right. I guess so. Women tour with the cock rock band. Didn't quite not that we are in a but there was something about it that didn't quite work turning. But in terms of the album, she did help us.


JAMES KENNEDY

Amen to that man. And yeah, you are a band that has had more than your fair share of struggles and ups and downs and challenges over the years. So you know that that is testament to the fact that you're still here now, kicking it bigger and better and louder than and flashier than ever before is testament to that exact spirit that I'm talking about.

And speaking of bigger, louder, flashier, faster, more. We got to loop it back to what we came here to talk about in the first place. We are talking about permission to land again. That 20th anniversary reissue of that classic, iconic album where it all started it is coming out on October the sixth, and it is available for preorder Right now. It is in a special four CD DVD release, including the original album, Rare Bides Bonus Unreleased Demos, as well as live albums from their iconic shows at the London Astoria, Net Worth and the Wembley Arena, as well as a two CD edition as well. There's a five LP version. There is a reprint of the original one, LP Vinyl, which has Long been out of print since 2003. It's now coming back, Matt. There is fucking loads and loads of options here. This thing looks absolutely gorgeous. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy. There's there's a booklet as well, with loads of info and and back story on on the, the album that is available for preorder right now and it's coming your way on October the sixth, the band are also going on a colossal tour.

They're playing all over the in North America, as well as a bunch of sold out dates in the

UK with a whole bunch of new dates announced for Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, Nottingham Rock City, my favourite venue at Brighton and London, as well as dates across Europe and everywhere else. So all you Darkness fans out there you are in luck. The boys are going to be playing here, there and everywhere with the brand new record, coming soon as well. New material. There's going to be a documentary and talk of a book as well, Frankie said. So it's a great time for Darkness, fans and a great time for the band. I'm sure I mean, dude, busy times. Busy times indeed, for you guys.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Busy times. Good times looking forward to and And we We, we've got this stage show that we're just working on now, which we're really excited about. Yeah.


JAMES KENNEDY

Oh man, Well I'm excited as well. I know that everybody listening to this is going to be excited because you guys are so fucking good life. So I can't wait to see what the new life show is gonna be. And I can't wait for everything ahead, man. I mean, what a great few years you guys have got ahead of you and Long May you guys continue to to do your thing, bring so much joy and fucking awesome tunes and good times to so many people around the world who love you so much for it. We thank you for what you do, brother Long may you continue to do so. And thank you so much for stopping by today and chatting with us has been a really, really interesting chat. So I really appreciate you stopping by. And, yeah, I'll see you at the show soon, man.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Thanks, James. Really appreciate it all the best.


JAMES KENNEDY

Cheers, Frankie. Take care, brother. See you. See you, man.


FRANKIE POULLAIN

Catch you soon. Bye Bye.


JAMES KENNEDY

Frankie Poullain. Ladies and gentlemen, let's hear it for him and make sure you pronounce his name right. It's not Poulayne, it's Pollain! Come on, you ignorant motherfuckers! Say it right. What a dude! What a cool guy! What an awesome band! What an awesome story. What an awesome conversation. I hope you enjoyed it. Now I'm sure you don't need me to tell you who the Darkness are, and I'm sure they don't need me to do any promo for them. But if you want to go to their website, it is the Darknesslive.com. And on there you can see all of their live shows coming up and their tours and, links to to preorder the new release permission to land again as well as all of their other stuff. The band are on Facebook at the Darknessofficial, and they're on Instagram at theDarkness. And whilst we're doing this, I would give a massive, massive plug and recommendation and a shout out to the brilliant Podcast by the band's singer, Justin Hawkins. He's got a YouTube channel called Justin Hawkins Rides Again. Check it out. It's absolutely fucking brilliant. If you haven't subscribed to my Podcast, What the fuck are you doing with your life? Come on, get on it, you freeloading bastards!


It is easy to do. Just click. Follow. Subscribe. Give me a star rating. Leave some comments. Leave me some recommendations. Let me know what your thoughts are and any of the things we talk about here, let me know which guests you'd like me to have on. Give it a share, get involved and just genuinely do your bit, bro. That's how this works, man. Are you paying for this shit? No, of course you're not. So give me a share, Dude. Come on, help your brother out. Now, As I said, I'm supposed to be officially on Podcast hiatus at the moment to be working feverishly on finishing my second book with a deadline which is looming ever closer. So I will not be back next week. But that said, I have said this twice now, and I've done two episodes since saying that I'm on hiatus.


So there may be another bonus episode coming soon. There may not be. I'm just going to play it very much by you know what happens and what comes through the door. But there is no forecasted scheduled episodes coming up, so Season two will be with us after the summer. Once I've made some headway into the book, I'm dying to get back onto the Podcast and game. I do love these conversations and meeting new people and have these interesting chats. So I will be back with a whole bunch of new interesting episodes and awesome guests really, really soon. But it's not going to happen next week.


So go back in the meantime and check out all the previous episodes with all of the brilliant conversations we've had with some brilliant minds and brilliant artists over the past year and one final Shout out about the band just before I sound out. James Kennedy and the Underdogs are officially playing the live circuit man, we're out there after all this time. Those of you who have been following my journey know that it's been a bit of an arduous trek to get to this point, but we're out there fucking doing it, man. The shows are going Kick ass. It's all going really well. So if you want to come and see us live, go to JamesKennedystuff.com/tribe. Whack your name and your email address and the city that you live in in the, in the box there, and we will come and we will see you and we will play for you and have a great fucking time because God knows it's been a Long time coming. And I'm really enjoying being out there again, man. So I love to see all of you again. So, please, if we're playing near you come and see us. And if you want us to come and play near you whack yourself into the mailing list and tell us you know what town you're in and we'll come and hunt you down. I'm on Instagram at JamesKennedyUK the band is at andtheunderdogs. And I'm also on Facebook at JamesKennedyBand and on Twitter at JamesKennedyUK. So come and say hello, man. And in the meantime, have an awesome week. As always, take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. And I will see you when I see you love you loads.

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