by Amy Freeborn in New Music on Friday 17 October 2008

New Zealand-born, globe-trotting, communal-living, psych rockers, The Datsuns, have a new album, a relatively-new drummer and a new living set-up, so expect something fresh from the Anitpodean ex-pats. ‘The new record has a lot of different styles and influences’, says The Datsuns guitarist and vocalist, Christian. ‘When we were doing this record a great thing was that we could try different things that we hadn’t done in the past’, he says, thanks to the addition of new drummer, Ben, offering as an example: ‘The last track on the record is an eight minute psychedelic song; it was a pop song but we turned it psychedelic. We said to Ben ‘play psychedelic drums’ and he did. It was completely improvised. He enabled us to do anything we wanted to do’.

Ben actually joined the Datsuns fold around two years ago, when the band’s previous drummer quit just three days before a major tour.

‘Ben’s a very old friend of ours. Between him and our old drummer we’re about the only five guys in (their home) town who play musical instucments’, Christian laughs.

When the previous drummer quit, the band rang Ben to see if he could fill in.

‘He was really hung over, washing dishes and I don’t think he really got what we were talking about’, Christian explains.

‘He rang back about five minutes later and said ‘yes’. He learnt our whole catalogue in three days. He’s been with us for two years now. He’s a really great drummer who can play a lot of different styles from metal to jazz’.

So, with new creative blood coursing through the band’s veins, The Datsuns’ new album, Head Stunts was conceived. But not without a few headaches, first.

‘We all lived together, and always have done the whole time we’ve been together. It’s quite ridiculous, we’re like The Monkees’, Christian laughs.

‘It’s just been recently that we’ve moved apart. I’m the only one left in London now (after the band lived there together for three years). Dolf lives in Stokholm and our drummer is in New Zealand.

‘We’re trying to make it as difficult for ourselves as possible.

‘We recorded the album in Sweden. We were going to record in Germany and we all moved there and lived there for nine months. We rented a flat and rehearsed every day. We did lot of jamming in Germany. We were almost at one point going to do a really psychedelic record, we had all these really long space jams. We got pretty psychedelic in Germany.

‘It was very beautiful (in Germany) but we got very bored and didn’t like the way the record was turning out, so we went to Sweden.

‘Sweden’s really great. They’re really into rock and roll’, he says.

‘(Recording) was a lot of fun. The studio we used was full of old equipment. You couldn’t step anywhere without stepping on stuff.

‘Half of it didn’t work, but that’s the fun bit, plugging in and seeing what you get.’

What they got, Christian explains, is: ‘an eclectic mix of rock and roll’.

‘That is what I like about rock and roll — you can do so many different thing and it’s still rock and roll.

‘This is really what we’re all about. It’s a very good representation of who we are. I’m excited about playing these songs. I hope people enjoy them.

‘We’re all fans of rock and roll and that’s the point of intersection’, Christian explains of the band members’ influences.

‘If everyone in the band had an iPod you’d see a lot of different stuff going on there, that’s what makes us interesting. We all like rock and roll but come at it from a different point of view. I’m into Zeppelin, Dolf’s into the Beatles. When we have a song everyone will see it in a slightly different way and it’s the intersection of different view points that makes it interesting.

‘It’s an interesting record if you’re a fan of rock and roll’.

Interesting also, is how the band came up with the album title, Head Stunts.

‘Naming the record is probably the hardest thing’, Christian says, ‘it seems like it’d be easy to pick a name, but it’s not.

‘One day when we were in Germany, Phil (lead guitarist) found this wall-sized piece of cardboard in the street and dragged it back to the flat and started writing on it. He was writing anagrams for stuff, writing song titles. He covered the whole piece of cardboard with all these names and poems.

‘One of the anagrams was Head Stunts (an anagram of The Datsuns)’.