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The Datsuns – A Rock And Roll Ride Built For Speed

Dolf De Datsun – vocals/bass
Chrisitan Datsun – guitar
Matt Datsun – drums
Phil Datsun – guitar


Traveling the states, the New Zealand guys in The Datsuns haven’t seen much of our U.S. lands, using their many hours of bus travel time to refresh and “just trying to stay sane,” says guitarist, Christian Datsun. Having taken their name from a lost virginity experience in the back of said car model is quite fitting, like an episode of That ‘70s Show that’s only shown in the wee morning hours due to content that is not suitable for children.

The Datsuns’ self-titled debut on V2 is pure rock and roll – fine-tuned and full of tenacity. Even if you haven’t seen their live show, you know after the first few seconds of the first track “Sittin’ Pretty” that you’ll be in for a sweaty ride. The Datsuns’ down and dirty rock may have a heavy ‘70s vibe, but their rippin’ guitar riffs, cow bell thumps and “YEA, YEA, YEA” vocal screams are built for a modern audience, void of mullet haired guys pulling air-guitar poses in an attempt to relive their youth.

“Motherfucker From Hell” boils over with wild, shaky abandon; “Lady” takes us back to a simpler time of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, with a vocal edge that leans towards the early days of punk; and if The Cramps along with Kate and Cindy from the B52s shared a body shot, they could pull off a fabulous remake of “Harmonic Generator.” Using female backing vocals on this track and “In Love” was a first for the band, but something they’ve wanted to do for a while. When playing those songs live, “I just sing really high,” laughs Christian, who lends his background vocal skills to pull it all off.

When the boys first started out they were just learning their instruments and messing around. But now in their eighth year they’ve fallen into their own groove, filling out their musical skin and tight jeans, and doing everything they can to keep doing what they do, and more.

Christian feels bands need to spend time building their foundation – honing their skills and building a buzz through a lot of hard work, “Especially for a rock and roll band. Sometimes you get the feeling that bands get together, then three months later they have a record deal and an album out before they even know how to play,” he states with conviction. “We did it the other way around. We played out for years and got our act together before doing a record. It allowed us to find our sound and create some sort of chemistry between us naturally. We’re pretty good live because we learned how to play together as a band.”

As with most bands that are really serious about their musical career, The Datsuns knew that if anything was going to be done right or at all, it had to be done by them. To get their music out there they created their own label, Hell Squad Records, to release their singles and albums. “No one was interested in booking us so we just started booking our own shows,” Christian explains. “We gradually built it up, touring New Zealand and Australia. Over the course of a few years we started getting over on this side of the world. Record companies and the media were interested in rock and roll again and we happen to be here at the right time.”

Although the group embraced the opportunity to get that attention, they didn’t necessarily agree that there was any revolution going on when it came to the whole “rock is back” mentality. They believed that it was just a matter of what the media’s attention had been on for a number of years, that it was “dance music or nu-metal or whatever” that had switched, featuring The Strokes on the covers of magazines versus Fat Boy Slim.

Big names from the biz have been mentioned as contributors to their careers, including fellow kiwi, Neil Finn, but Christian doesn’t feel their accomplishments can be nailed down to any one thing. Touring has been their number one past time, having been on the road non-stop for over a year and a half. “We’re getting pretty of tired, especially here. It’s just a big country. You can tour for months and not go to the same town twice. It’s almost like it’s a whole lot of countries lumped together. You can go to other countries like England and things can happen there kind of quickly, because everything is nationwide like the music, TV, and the radio…the press and word of mouth.”

What they discovered in the U.S. is they have had to work a lot harder to get recognition state-by-state, audience-by-audience. Plus, they see a big difference in the way the radio works here, noticing that it’s all run by Clear Channel. “In other parts of the world you see rock and roll on TV and hear it on the radio, but over here…we have satellites on the bus and watch music channels. We don’t see ANY rock and roll. It’s all pop punk or metal, like Good Charlotte and Godsmack,” Christian says with level of confused irritation. Yea, welcome to our world.

Pointing out that some friends in D4 did appear on David Letterman, Christian felt it strange that late night talk shows are the media spot to hear rock music, as opposed to TV stations that are supposed to be dedicated to music. When rock does make its way into the picture, it’s for all the wrong reasons, “MTV, when they’re trying to be hip, they’ll have dabs of rock and roll in their awards shows or whatever. Then you see rock and roll in fashion when people are trying to be cool, but they don’t listen to it…Mandy Moore or Justin Timberlake wearing an AC/DC T-shirt…that’s supposed to be a revolution? That’s not rock and roll.”

Hear and see the real stuff from The Datsuns at the BlueBird in Denver, playing Saturday, May 31 with The Paybacks, The Star Spangles.


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