These kiwi rockers were back last year with their third album, ‘Smoke and Mirrors’, a triumph of driven beats and crazy vocals, reminding us that they are still very much alive and kicking on the rocket ship.
I caught up with Dolf and Phil for a chat about all manner of things.
You talk about a lot of women in your songs, who’s your favorite leather clad lady?
Dolf: (Laughs) Joan Jett!
Dolf: She used to wear it good. About 1980. I’m really into rock n roll. I think there’s an album of hers, it’s just called ‘Do you wanna touch it’
And you DO wanna touch!
Dolf: (Laughs) Well I mean, I suppose so!
Who would you prefer in leather, the Queen or Margaret Thatcher?
Dolf: OOOOORRRGHHH!! ROUGH!
Phil: Do we have to pick one?!
Well I could give you another option if you really want…
Dolf: Thatcher would be better, because it’s more like, ‘there’s the anti Christ’.
Not quite such an iconic image as the queen.
Dolf: Well for me I would say Thatcher’s probably more an iconic image, I mean, actually for a lot of people, especially in this country...
But she doesn’t have her head on little bits of metal…
Dolf: Yeh, but I think it revolves it though, because that whole era, Thatcher, Thatcherism, economies, is more ingrained on people’s minds than say, what the Queen represents, you know. Yeah it’s her head, but what does she stand for? Nothing. It’s a tourist attraction.
Well, maybe she could make more of an impression if she was in leather.
Dolf: (Laughs) Yeh exactly! Yeah, she doesn’t really have any power, she just brings in tourists.
Well, she advocates laws
Dolf: Yeh. She earns the country lots of money as well. The monarchy is a bizarre concept I think.
I think I’m going to write to her and ask her to wear leather trousers. Could work as a tourist attraction…
Right. Do you think living in a country with more sheep than people affected your personal relations skills?
Dolf: Personal relationship skills? (Laughs) No. We have things called cities and towns, quite similar to England…
But the town we’re from is quite small, like 12000 people. It’s quite rural, agricultural. I think what affected our social skills was that we were into shit that no one else was into. We were very much like, ‘Man, what everyone else is into SUCKS!’ We spent our time pursuing new musical things, new and sort of different things from what other people were doing, so people were like ‘Err, these dudes are weird…’
You need to gravitate towards people who are into the same kind of shit as you.
Did you ever want to, or actually own a Datsun?
Dolf: No, I never did. But my little brother had two of them for a while, one was bright orange and the other was bright green! And then he crashed one of them, so he had parts from one on the other, so he had it bright orange and bright green. (Laughs)
Was that any relation to the band name, that he got them, or did he just like that car?
Dolf: Well, we’d been playing band stuff for a while and we were looking for a name, because we’d changed quite a lot. Then we were looking through all these old National Geographic’s and kept finding all these ads for Datsuns.
I thought they were all meant to be brown?
Dolf: Yeh, they’re kind of like a nice brown colour.
Was it better to tour with the Pixies or Velvet Revolver?
Dolf: That’s a really good question, because musically I enjoyed the Pixies, much more, BUT, it’s kind of like the Datsuns are in the weird universe where we’re in between the two, we can appeal to both audiences. The Velvet Revolver tour was much easier, because it was a lot of young rock fans, ten years old, or that kind of age. So we would go out there, and we would fucking kill it every night. As opposed to the Pixies, the audience was like forty year olds, height of opera house, intellectuals, people who aren’t really that into rock music. So it was much more difficult.
There were quite a lot of older people when I was at the Apollo
Dolf: At Velvet Revolver?
Yeh, it was a great gig.
Dolf: Well I suppose I could only see the front row, they were all like really kind of going for it.
What was it like working with John Paul Jones on ‘Outta Site Outta Mind? ‘
Dolf: Well, he’s a very kind of amiable fellow- just super nice. I wish he would have been a little harder on us sometimes, but I think from his perspective he was just like ‘well, I’ll fix what needs to be fixed’. I think he quite enjoyed the band; we had a lot of fun being together. We’d just kind of mess around all the time with different instruments and stuff. He’d be like ‘Oh yeah! I remember this instrument!’, and he’d pick it up and it would be a mandolin or something and he’d play it really amazingly. Or, just instruments he didn’t really know how to play, he could play mandolin obviously…but he’d just pick some kind of weird thing and have a play with it. In his place he’s got all these weird nine string steel bases and things, he’d be playing those, so it was quite fun.
What’s your favorite traditional English food, if any?
Dolf: Our friend makes us Sunday lunch…
Phil: Yorkshire pudding.
Dolf: Yorkshire pudding, roast chicken, roast veg, that’s kind of traditional English.
Did they make the Yorkshire puddings from scratch or were they Aunt Bessie’s?
Dolf: She made them.
Oh, that’s good!
Dolf: Every time she’s like ‘these aren’t as good as the ones I did last week…didn’t quite rise the exact way…’ she’s very specific.
Sounds like mine, they look like Scottish Pancakes! The little ones.
Dolf: They all taste great though.
Taste is far more important than if your gravy doesn’t go in the dip bit.
In a hundred years time, do you think people will still be listening to your music?
Dolf: It’s weird, because if you’d asked me that question like twenty years, thirty years ago, I would have said that people would say no, you know, things move on. But now, these days everything’s digital, you can make it last for a long time, and at last we will annihilate ourselves, but everything will be here in history. Huge vaults, and you’ll be able to plug in while you’re at home, ‘duhdoom!’ like that, and you’ll be going ‘blabubblap’ and here’s my name. Because these days you can do that; you can be like ‘hey, there’s this band called the Datsuns’ or whatever, and you can find out everything about them in two seconds. So, even like ten years ago or even twenty years ago there was much more mystery involved. Like I’d say to you, Hey! Did you hear this band? No? Oh, well maybe I’ll lend you my record, and you can listen to it, and then they stroll into town… But these days you can get a hundred photos of a band on the internet straight away, and you can download all the records, you can download their history, and I know it seemed to be a mist of mystery before. I quite liked the way that people’s older brothers would play music to you.
Yeah, you can find even the most obscure bands now.
Dolf: Yeh, when we were growing up we didn’t know who the fucking Stooges were, or MC5 or whatever, you know. Maybe kids these days can look that stuff up. It’s kind of a good thing though.
Can be good, can be bad. Lastly, can you describe your sound in a sentence for any readers who won’t know it?
Dolf: (Long pause) Hmm. I mean it’s, it’s…I don’t know. (Laughs) It’s one of those things that if you try and sum it up, what it sounds like, it’s quite hard.
Dolf: Yeah. It’s loud. Just loud. That’ll do. The one thing you can guarantee the show will be.
Interview & Words- Ali Hewson