Arpie was fortunate enough to fire a few questions at The Datsuns drummer Ben Cole, to find out all about their brand new music, plans for touring, as well as get a few insights into the band's songwriting process and find out what's currently ripping it up on the turntable in the Cole household.
Congrats on the new single ‘Brain To Brain’! What can you tell us about it – what’s the song about/what inspired it, which of you wrote it, where and when was it recorded etc.
Thanks man! It’s the first single off our new album coming out soon. Phil wrote the music for this one and Dolf wrote the vocals. I think it’s about being so close to some people in your life that you almost know what they’re gonna say before they say it, and how having that insight into someone ain’t necessarily something you enjoy. That’s my take on it anyhow! The video for the song has some dodgy backstreet scientician brain surgery going on which is pretty cool too. All in the name of more fidelity!
And there’s an album due at the end of May too, ‘Eye To Eye.’ Presumably that was written and recorded during a disruptive year of lockdowns etc. Did that help or hinder in terms of the writing and recording process?
Yes indeedy! New album May 25th I believe. Pretty exciting for us to have some new music coming out I gotta tell ya. This album was conceived and most of the music was recorded about 5 years or so ago actually. We wrote most of it at The Porch studio just outside Hamilton and recorded the drums and most of the bass and rhythm guitar at Roundhead studio in Auckland, then we went our separate ways and time got stretched and babies were born and lives got lived and it took us another couple of years to finish things off. By that stage some song parts needed changing so we changed ‘em, re-recorded some stuff and stuck it all together and we had another album. Easy as that!
It might be a stupid question given the current situation across the world but are there any loose plans for shows/tours etc?
Yeah, there’s plans for sure! Playing live is where it’s at for us so when we can make it happen we will. We’re working on it!
What is the song writing process like in The Datsuns these days – who does what and how does it get from an idea into a fully-fledged song?
When we get together these days time is usually something we want to make full use of, so everyone has already been sending demos to each other so we have an idea of the things we’re gonna work on. We try stuff out as a band and see what works and what doesn’t, change parts around, some things get thrown away, some things get inspired by other things and take a different tack, and some things turn out almost exactly like the demo. It really depends on what sounds good when we’re all playing together.
How has that changed over the years?
I think it’s gotten more considered maybe? When you’re first writing songs you tend to get really excited by new songs and bang together the fastest thing you can play, or something more at the limits of what you can do. The more you write and the more you think about and listen to music though, the less impressed you may be with something that’s just fast or whatever, and you tend to develop a wider appreciation of what makes a song a good song and what you like about music, and you have more ideas to draw on. I do still love fast shit tho!
Are there many disagreements/robust debates when songwriting, in terms of agreeing what bits of songs/whole songs get the green light?
Yeah, of course! One of the “downsides”, if ya wanna call it that, of everyone getting a wider musical view is there’s more ideas to be thrown in the pot, and you wanna try them all out if you can. Sometimes there’s more than one direction to take a song and picking which direction to go can get some heat under it for sure. You just gotta keep an open mind and see where it goes.
What other music have you been listening to recently, any recommendations for us?
Tropical Fuck Storm – A Laughing Death in Meatspace
Marked Men – Fix my Brain
KMRU – Peel
Castlebeat – Castlebeat
SLOW – Oceans
Magugu & Famous Eno – Big Don
Ranil - Ranil y su Conjunto Tropical
and anything by Thee Oh Sees!
At this point we asked a few questions about the very early days of the band back here in Hamilton, but Ben joined around 2006, replacing Matt Osment, so we were a bit wide of the mark there. Ben did tell us his high point of being in the band this far however...
I’m sure the other fellas have their own (high point), but I loved playing The Big Day Out. That was always a dream of mine to play main stage. And of course traveling to so many cool places I never thought I would and meeting such an excellent assortment of people!
Finally, in 10 years time, what do you envisage The Datsuns to be doing?
At this point in history I think having any kind of assumptions about the future is probably a foolhardy endeavour! I would hope we will still be getting together and making music for like-minded individuals to soak in.
* The Datsuns new album 'Eye to Eye' is out at the end of May, and you can pre-order your copy by clicking through to thedatsuns.com