We recently had a chance to sit and chat with Frankie Poullain, bassist of The Darkness, about his favorite piece of gear, and how it played into the recording of the band's latest disc Last Of Our Kind, which was released on June 1st. Learn about Poullain's Gibson Thunderbird guitar and more!
What one piece of gear do you use to obtain your signature sound? Poullain: A Gibson Thunderbird.
What about it makes it so important to you? Poullain: Everything: the design, the sound, the history, the personality, the stupid shape, the awkwardness - my personality basically, but at a lower frequency.
How was this gear used during the recording of The Darkness' new album, Last of Our Kind? Poullain: Every track was played using a Gibson Thunderbird except for the song I sang, "Conquerors", on which we swapped and Justin played bass - on an '80s headless cricket bat, a Hohner copy of a Steinberger. The backing track to that song has a certain naivety which complement my budding vocalisms... hopefully.
How do you recreate your album bass tones in The Darkness' live sets? Poullain: I use a Hiwatt rig, it's nasty and unapologetic. I also use a Tone Hammer to gently squeeze out nice frequencies. The Rat distortion box is there for stuff like "Get Your Hands Off" and "She's Just A Girl Eddie" where the bass is more to the fore, few and far between when you're competing with the Hawkins brothers. I like the grind of the Rat, like grinding the finest coffee beans into a quadruple shot.
What are the major pros and cons? Poullain: There are always cons, perfection does not exist. Pros are that I like the sound. What else needs to be said?
Do you have a backup for this gear, if so, what? Poullain: An Aguilar rig. Don't ask. It's a completely different sound to the Hiwatt. Very precise. I guess I must have a split personality.
How long have you had it, how do you use it, would you ever change it? Poullain: The Thunderbird I have had since 2000. Fifteen years. Used a Precision a few times but never happy. Might grow a ponytail, change my name to Francesco, let the hair recede a bit and play something posh on the next album. There has to be a way to grow old gracefully.
Give us your best "gear goes wrong" story. Poullain: When you have great techs the gear doesn't go wrong, or if it does then the damage is mineralized. We may not be an A-list band anymore, but we have A-list technicians and crew because it's all about guitars. They're the real stars - can you hear me Gibson!?
Any final thoughts or comments on the gear? Poullain: The choice of champions - you know it makes sense! Savour.