Interview with Rufus Taylor from The Darkness
Coming into an already established band can be a tricky affair. There can be personality clashes, diverging musical directions, tension, it’s often a big gamble where the stakes are high and where circumstances can affect all parties involved.
This is most certainly NOT the case where Rufus Taylor and The Darkness are concerned.
It’s been nearly two years since Taylor – son of Queen drummer Roger Taylor – stepped in to fill the drummers stool vacated by Emily Dolan-Davies, and he’s certainly proved to be a perfect fit for the Lowestoft quartet and is happily immersed in the creative process and loving the dynamics within the band.
Having won Australian audiences over with his musical expertise on their Blast Of Our Kind tour in late 2015, Taylor and the band are now taking a break from recording album number five and venturing South for a series of shows in Australia and New Zealand, including headline slots on the Groovin The Moo festival, and the drummer is certainly relishing the chance to return to our shores.
Hi Rufus, how are you?
I’m well thanks mate.
So where are you right now?
I’m in the studio, just chilling out with the guys after a day of recording and tomorrow we’ll be back at it recording album number five.
So this will be the second Australian tour you’ve done with The Darkness, are you looking forward to coming back?
Yeah I am actually. I love Australia, love Perth too.
You’ve been with the band for a couple of years now, I guess it’s pretty safe to say that you’re still loving it?
Absolutely yeah, I’m really having a blast.
It’s always a challenge for a new band member coming on the heels of another, did you have any teething issues in the beginning or did you fit right in?
No it was a very easy slot. We all get along really well, and we all have a really immature sense of humour which always helps. And that just made it all really easy, along with enjoying playing together.
Had you listened to the band’s music much before you joined?
Oh yeah a hundred percent. I’d bought the first album as soon as it first came out and I loved it. Loved the guys ever since.
I’ve been following the updates Justin has been making on the time in the studio. How have the new songs been going?
They’re going great man, we’re really flying through them. We’re tracking them live as well which is good, it’s got a really good feel to it, it’s really organic and it’s heavy as hell. But tastefully so.
Frankie had his big moment on Last Of Our Kind when he sang Conquerors, are we going to hear you sing something on the new record?
Yeah I think there is a little bit on there. Nothing in Frankie’s calibre though. He totally nailed it!
I saw a post recently where Justin said that Frankie had had an accident with the Brown Bastard (Poullain’s Gibson Thunderbird IV bass), what happened there?
Well you know how Frankie gets! He was playing hard one day and the poor thing couldn’t handle it. He ruined it. He snapped the headstock and he couldn’t use it. But it’s undergoing some fixes at the moment and he’s got some other Thunderbirds here and they’re sounding nice.
This will be the first proper album you’ve recorded with the band, has the songwriting dynamic changed much? Have you had a lot of input into the arrangement of the songs?
It’s definitely been a group thing. Obviously Justin has been handling a lot of the lyrics. But we’ve all had input and we’ve all assisted in it and he’s even gotten me involved in some as well, so that’s been good for me. But as far as backing tracks go most of the songs we’ve come up with have been between Dan and I in the studio, we’d just literally have a five minute jam and that’s how most of these songs came about. And through a few runs and corrections and idea changes we usually churn out an idea in about twenty minutes. It’s pretty good how well Dan and I have locked in like that especially when we’re just improvising, because he’s brilliant at just coming up with things on the spot and changing and sequencing and all this stuff off the top of his head, so we work well together that way.
Seeing as the band have a huge admiration for Queen, has there been any particular aspect of joining the band that you’ve especially enjoyed?
Really just the fact that this band has always thought the same way as band’s like that. They treat the industry the same way as bands like that and bands like they used to make. It’s an old flag but I really love flying it you know? I mean I can’t really remember the last time I turned on the radio and didn’t turn it off after five minutes. I just cannot stand it, it drives me mad. I just love flying that flag and that’s really what I love about it the most. We all don’t give a shit about the right things.
I hear you, the older music always sounds the best.
Yeah man, and live as well. There are all these big artists who I’ve seen out of pure curiosity, and it’s just shit. The way they talk to the crowd is a joke. They’ve got this big arena and these fans are dying to see them and all they can say is “Let me hear you make some noise”, there’s no communication anymore, no nothing. It’s like, “show up, press play so I can mime my bullshit, have some dancers dance around me, take my money and go” – so woooo!!! I’m gonna stop now [laughs]
Obviously coming into the band and having to learn their back catalogue, do you have a favourite song that you love to play?
I think for the last two years, up until we started writing this new album it’s been Stuck In A Rut, I love playing that song. Get Your Hands Off… is really good as well.
I know you like to surf, and you’re hitting New Zealand before heading our way. Are you going to try and catch some waves over there or in Australia?
If I get the chance then yeah I definitely will. I’ve always been a fan and Kelly Slater’s always been a massive hero of mine. Probably not in New Zealand right now, I hear the sharks around there are pretty mega right now. I’m not as fearless with Great Whites as Kelly is, if I know they’re there I probably won’t go in. But we’ll see how we go, Bondi would be pretty fun.
Can I ask you about your touring setup. Have you been influenced by your dads modern setup in any way?
I don’t know yet, I’m still kind of happy with my simple set up at the moment because I’m not really a technician player or anything like that. So I have my standard kind of touring kit and you can do pretty much anything with that, I guess as I get older I’ll throw a few more things in there but right now I’ll keep it as easy on the crew as I can. play DW kits, they are just the kings and have been for years in my opinion. It’s the way they make their drums, they are proper legit scientists in my opinion, they’re beautifully thought out, all the lugs, nothing ever comes loose, it’s just so clever. I’ve had a custom kit that they build for me years ago and I’ve been using the same thing ever since and it’ll probably last me my whole life.
You’re playing the Groovin The Moo festival in Australia as well, do you like playing festival shows or are the solo gigs where it’s at for you?
I don’t really mind, as long as the vibes good and the sounds good. Usually at festivals it’s really hit and miss, mostly miss. You don’t really get to soundcheck during the day so when you’re up there you have to make all these adjustments instantly, but the vibe you get from festivals is great and if you have the day off the next day it’s great too. But the hot and sweaty ones are pretty great as well, that’s a proper gig.
And lastly, you’d obviously have seen your dad play some pretty massive shows, are there any places in particular you’d love for the Darkness to play?
I’d love us to do the Hollywood Bowl, that would be funny, we’d really shake that place up. And anywhere that seems kind of absurd, Sydney Opera House maybe? How many people does that seat again? I forget, a few thousand at least.
Well that’s it for me today, thanks very much for talking to me Rufus and we’ll see you out here in May.
Thanks Jarrod, cheers mate.