20 years after their debut album “Permission to Land,” The Darkness is back together touring to celebrate the album’s anniversary across the country.
In 2012, British rock band The Darkness found themselves opening for Lady Gaga on her world tour, hopping from one continent to another. One of these hops included a chartered flight from South America to South Africa, and if you have any inkling of chartered flights in the history of rock and roll, you can probably see where this story is going.
“On the flight over, we hit some kind of turbulence — the most dangerous kind,” Frankie Poullain, bassist of The Darkness, says. “We almost died. The plane had to drop twice. I was looking over at Justin [Hawkins, lead singer of The Darkness] and really thought we were gone.”
In retrospect, The Darkness has probably been through things far worse and more terrifying than reenacting their own version of a scene from “Almost Famous.” Twenty years ago, they became very famous very quickly thanks to the worldwide success of the single “I Believe in A Thing Called Love” off their debut album “Permission to Land.” (So sudden was their success, a brief slapdash U.S. tour was created around media appearances and their first appearance in the DMV was at the now-defunct Fletcher’s in Baltimore.)
“I do remember we had a whole week in LA where we did Jimmy Kimmel, Jay Leno and two nights at the Henry Fonda Theatre,” Poullain says. “That week was peak ‘The Darkness.’ That was when it was the most played [music video] in the States for a couple of weeks.”
What followed is practically a textbook example of what can happen to a band when sudden fame hits hard. In 2004, their request for a larger payday (reportedly £1 million) to headline the Glastonbury Festival resulted in numerous back-and-forth swipes between the band and festival promoter in the media with the press taking a “who do they think they are?” stance.
In 2005, Poullain was fired from the band (“I was a pain in the neck to be around,” Poullain says) and in 2006, Justin Hawkins quit the band and entered rehab for his drug and drink addictions. A mere six years after their formation, The Darkness were no more.
Now, 20 years on from the release of their debut album, The Darkness are touring their “Permission to Land 20” tour, making a stop at the 9:30 Club on October 22. This, Poullain feels, given the whirlwind that was 2003, gives the band an opportunity to get things right.
“That’s really what the comeback has been all about,” Poullain says. “We’re really hitting our steam now. We’ve got a documentary coming out in a couple of months. We’ve also got the next album coming out. It’s coming out later next year, which we’re very excited about.”
The Darkness will play 9:30 Club on Sunday, October 22 at 7 p.m. To request tickets, or to return tickets if you’re unable to attend, visit the Official Lyte Exchange. To learn more about The Darkness and their music, follow them online at thedarknesslive.com and on Instagram @thedarkness.
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