Classic Datsuns

BOOGIE BOYS: The Datsuns, from left, Ben Cole, Christian Livingstone, Dolf de Borst and Philip Somervell.
BOOGIE BOYS: The Datsuns, from left, Ben Cole, Christian Livingstone, Dolf de Borst and Philip Somervell.

The Datsuns release their fifth album tomorrow, 10 years after being hailed as the saviours of rock 'n' roll. Tracey Cooper talks to drummer Ben Cole.

Few people would have picked The Datsuns would still be revving so strongly 10 years after being hailed as the saviours of rock 'n' roll.

But here they are, releasing their fifth studio album, Death Rattle Boogie, recorded in lead singer Dolf De Borst's Gutterview Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, and Neil Finn's Roundhead Studio in Auckland.

Ben Cole, the only non-Cambridge Datsun, who replaced Matt Osment on drums about six years ago, says it's taken a while but it was worth the wait.

"It's been a couple of years recording it," he says.

"Someone said our last album [Headstunts] was in 2008 and I thought it can't be that long ago, but there you go, it seems ridiculous.

"We live all over the planet so you can't really blame us for taking our time."

Most of the 13 tracks on the album, which cranks with the same raw power we've come to expect from The Datsuns, were created while the band was together in Sweden, but a couple of tracks "we just wrote in Roundhead in Auckland when we were just mucking around".

"We'd go, this sounds all right, and press record," he says.

That was mostly last summer, when The Datsuns were together in New Zealand for a few gigs around Christmas.

"Whenever I think about how long it takes to make an album, I always thought it was like going into a studio for a week, banging it out, doing some mixing for a day or two and releasing it the next week. But no way. My god it takes so long, you have to get the art work and track listing and mixing and mastering and all this kind of stuff that I don't really know much about. I'm not a businessman, I just play the drums."

With just Cole (in Wellington) and Phil Somervell (in Auckland) living in New Zealand, De Borst in Sweden and Christian Livingston living in London, the band only gets together for recording and touring, but Cole says that's never been an issue.

"We each do our own thing. Dolf's got his studio, Christian builds pedals, Phil's got another band and I've got another band," he says.

"We played together for so long when we do get together it only takes maybe a half hour of mucking around before we slip back into playing together.

"We rehearse for a couple of days, four hours a day, then go off on tour and it's fine. As soon as you start playing shows, it's so much fun you forget about making mistakes. And having played the songs so many times you don't even have to think about it, it just happens, which is great. [We] don't really need to get together, it would be good if we could but we can't at the moment and I think when we are together we're really enjoying each other's company a lot."

And there's no surprise about this, that playing live is preferable to being stuck in a recording studio - and there'll be plenty of opportunities to do that in the coming months.

"Live is by far the best, I think, because you've only got that one chance a night to do it right, so you kind of give it everything you've got. It's so much more fun than being in a studio. Normally, when we're recording, it's me playing with Dolf in the other room playing his bass and maybe a guitar; it's not the same. If you make mistakes, you stop and do it again, but when you play live you can't and it's so much more fun and more off the cuff. I love showing up, banging out some songs and leaving."

So far The Datsuns have about nine shows confirmed in Australia and two in New Zealand, at Wellington's Bodega on December 22 and Galatos in Auckland on December 23.

"Then it's Christmas and we're definitely doing shows after that, but it's not finalised yet. The other guys usually come over for Christmas and it's a great way to get to the beach. You can't really do better than that, spending your day at the beach then playing some tunes at night, I love doing that. It's why so many bands do the classic summer tour, it's so much fun."

And it will be fun playing songs they've worked so hard on and like so much themselves, Cole says.

"We have to all really like it because if you're going out and playing all the songs on the album, if there's half of them you don't really like, people can tell you aren't really into it. You have to really, really like it. When you put out an album that's the chance to make music you want to hear. If you make it yourself you can make it exactly how you want it to be. The first thing about putting out an album is you've got to like it or there's no point, because you're stuck with it."

Death Rattle Boogie is released on Friday.


We have a copy of The Datsuns' new album Death Rattle Boogie on vinyl, yes, vinyl, to give away to a lucky reader who still has a record player. Simply email your details to by the end of Monday to be in with a chance to win.

Waikato Times