UK Rockers the Darkness Bring 'Back to the USSA' Tour to House of Blues

click to enlarge UK Rockers the Darkness Bring 'Back to the USSA' Tour to House of Blues
Courtesy of Publicity Please
When the UK hard rock band the Darkness got together in 2000, it was the result of a pact made between singer Justin Hawkins and his brother, guitarist Dan Hawkins.

“On Millennium Eve, Justin and Dan made a pact with each other and they would form a new band and Justin would be the singer,” says bassist Frankie Poullain, who played with the guys in their previous band, Empire, in a recent transatlantic phone call. “I was in Venezuela at the time. I was quite upset. I had to make a decision about whether I was going to continue as a tour guide or whether I was going to make one last stab at trying to make it. I was 33 at the time. I decided to come back. That was one of the best decisions I made and that’s when the Darkness started in 2000 on Millennium Eve. It took us three years of hard work and really pushing each other.”

The band’s debut album, 2003’s Permission to Land, became a smash hit, yielding over-the-top glam anthems such as “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” and “Get Your Hands Off My Woman.”

“At the time, it was against the zeitgeist,” says Poullain. “At the time in the UK, it was the Verve and Radiohead and looking back, it was that millennial angst that people had at the time. We were really against the grain. A&R guys used to come and see our gigs because we were bringing in big crowds; they thought we were a cabaret party band even though we turned on every crowd and left them all with shit-eating grins.”

After the release of Permission to Land, the band faltered and would break up in 2006. Reunion shows in 2011 signaled its return.

"People we had worked with in the past felt like there was an appetite for it,” says Poullain when asked about the reunion. “There was another wave. Teenagers were into us. Things go in cycles. There was seven-year gap. Seven years is half a generation.”

Now, on the heels of a 2015 North American tour, the band returns to the states on the Back to the USSA tour that includes a stop at House of Blues on Sunday. The tour comes in the wake of the band’s new album, Last of Our Kind. It features Justin Hawkins’ soaring vocals and arena-rock guitar licks inspired by classic rock acts such as Def Leppard and AC/DC.

As the band wrote the songs, it had to negotiate its way out of two record deals and two management deals.

“The songs were created with all these emails flying around and having to make these professional decisions about our future,” says Poullain. “I guess some of that energy leaked into the songs. They display that turmoil and are tempestuous. Of course, there are typical silly Darkness songs that have a sense of the ridiculous and put a smile on your face.”

Poullain says new drummer Rufus Taylor, son of Queen drummer Rufus Taylor, brings “glam, youth, silliness and power and skill” to the group.

“He’s an extremely talented drummer and a good singer as well,” he says. "We’re hoping to get him to sing a song on the next album.

Poullain adds that the band's already thinking about the next album. 

“In my opinion there’s been a ten-year backlash from 2005 to 2015, but I can feel that it’s ending,” he says. “This summer, we have more UK festival gigs than ever before. Things are slowly swinging back. That’s great. We’re touring the States and making money over there and in Australia as well. I think we’ve turned the corner. The next album will be a fun album. We’re really going to have fun with it.”
Like this story?
SCENE Supporters make it possible to tell the Cleveland stories you won’t find elsewhere.
Become a supporter today.

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
Scroll to read more Music News articles

Join Cleveland Scene Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.