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Ghost Canyon

The Datsuns The Datsuns
’Driving All The Way To Successville, USA’

Six months earlier people were telling New Zealand's Datsuns to give up. In mid-2002 London's music press was hailing them as "genius." By then The Datsuns had already been playing their brand of garage rock for six years, ever since they met at school in Cambridge and formed a band called Trinket.

Back in 1997, as Trinket, they won the local radio station's Battle Of The Bands. The following year, now called the Datsuns, they won again. In the years that followed the group released only a handful of singles, all on vinyl and all on their own record label, Hell Squad Records. While beloved of student radio and known for their live Who-like performances, they were a relatively unknown group even at home. Things started to look up in March 2001, when a tour of Australia caused a bit of a stir, especially in Melbourne. Encouraged, the Datsuns made plans to take on London. First it was the fickle London music press which flocked to the group's gigs, jostling with each other to hail the Datsuns (Phil, Dolf, Christian and Matt) as the greatest thing they'd seen. Record companies followed, waving check books in the faces. One major label boss flew in from New York to check out the action. Their London tour of duty had started with the band sleeping on other people's couches. Before long at least one hopeful record company was fronting hotel bills. In July 2002 the band signed with the V2 label and their self-titled album was subsequently releases to the masses.

Chatting with the band on their tour bus, I first asked Phil Datsun about the bands name (which is also a Japanese car!) and how it came about. ”Yeah, it’s just a thing that kinda stuck with us for a while back in New Zealand and then the record came out and we decided to keep it.”

Explain more about your affiliation with Jack and Meg from the White Stripes and how they helped you in the business [Phil] ”Er, we played some shows with them,” he answers extremely quietly.

But word has it they helped you out big time! [Dolf] ”Not, really, no,” he replies adamantly. ”I think the only thing that bands can do for other bands is tell press that they like them or invite them to come and play shows with them. We played with them years ago, back when no one had even heard of the White Stripes. So, they invited us to do some shows in Australia and at that point they were no bigger than us. But, I think someone championing you and enjoying what you do is great and works well for you … if you’re any good!”

Phil – Quote: (of the industry’s feeding frenzy) “The fact that people were willing to pay for stuff was cool!” Explain that more [Phil] ”Yeah, we’re a band that’s been playing together for almost eight years now and so we’ve been doing most things by ourselves. We got our own label, recorded our own songs, but we’d never put out a CD until last year. So, it was really strange when we put out a CD and there’s suddenly all these people talking about your single and it’s on the radio and stuff like that!”

So, why was the time right for your CD to be released now? [Dolf] ”I think music is very cycular and I think people got bored of something that has gotten very homogenized and crap! To be honest, I think they were looking for something else. Something different.”

Whatever happened to the band Trinket?! [Phil] ”It’s just a name change,” he smiles.

[Dolf] ”In a lot of ways we’re just the same people and we just decided to change the name about five or six years ago. We were young kids and I think anybody should be allowed to change their name and become somebody else!”

Publicity Quote: “Never mind the garage punk, here comes the cock-rock revival!” What the f**k does that mean?! [Dolf] ”Where did you find that?”, he asks, genuinely taken aback?

On one of your publicity sheets! [Dolf] ”Well, it shouldn’t be. Well, firstly, I don’t believe in revivals or any of that shit! And I DON’T think we’re a cock-rock band, but I don’t think we’re a punk rock band either! We’re just a band who like to put on a show. There’s so much about us that’s so easy to categorize and yet there’s so much about us that isn’t. Which is why I don’t think we’re black anD white and therefore able to be categorized as anything more than just a rock and roll band. But, I do think we do lots of different kinds of things. I think the fact that we play pop music either very hard or we play hard rock with pop hooks makes it hard for people to categorize us. We’re just trying to write songs that in a way make sense to us! It’s definitely not black and white to us though!"

What was going through your heads when you wrote these three songs:
‘MF From Hell’ - [Dolf] ”We wrote it in a basement and we were just f**king around with sounds and the song just kinda came out. We were just playing and usually when we’re writing songs and we haven’t gotten lyrics yet, I’m usually just shouting out random things,” he laughs. ”I’ll usually say whatever’s in my head, but then bits and pieces of the song and lyrics kinda became like a running joke. And, because people seem to dig profanity and gratuitous stuff, it kinda stuck! But, I really wanted to change it, but the audience wouldn’t lets us.”
‘Harmonic Generator’ - [Phil] ”I originally recorded that on a drum machine on my computer and then we never played it for about eight or nine months. I then just decided to revamp it and put it on this new album."
‘Fink For The Man’ - [Dolf] - ’That’s just a line from the ‘Mod Squad,’ you know, that ‘60s film. It was this really hardcore line that we loved! We get our inspiration from the weirdest places,” he gently laughs.

The Fun Five:
1) Who would look the best dressed as a woman in the band and why?! - [Phil] ”Christian, because he’s the skinniest!”
2) Who is the worst to travel on tour with … and why? - [Phil] ”Me! I leave my shoes all over the bus,” he wryly smiles.
3) Who was the last member of the band to throw up … and why? - [Dolf] ”Christian,” he instantly fires out smiling. ”He threw up in the lobby of a New York hotel just as he was trying to check in! All over their walls,” he adds, now laughing harder.
4) Who’s the freakiest member of the band … for whatever reason?! - [Dolf] ”Matt, because the last thing he did was piss of the roof of the bus!”
5) What was the cheesiest ‘80s hair band that someone from the band can admit to have bought the vinyl of?! [Dolf] ”My friend and I, who I used to live with, went and bought Dr. Feelgood by Motley Crue, because that’s actually a good album.”

Finally, describe the band in three words [Dolf] ”Assholes, assholes, assholes!,” he laughs, bringing the interview to a jovial end.

Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk

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