Their story is not about posting online, but about old school packing and posting a vinyl 7-inch single to a person of importance in the music industry – whether a booker in Australia (or Japan) or a radio legend at the BBC. In 2002 The Datsuns broke through in pre-internet ways: live performance, the John Peel radio show and UK magazines including the NME. They hit London town just before the NME lost its star-making power and the conversation about music moved from pieces of paper stapled together to the on-line buffet of audio and video nibbles.
In Australia and New Zealand there has always been an authentic “garage rock” scene – an underground that loves Radio Birdman, The Saints and sixties sounds whether represented by the legendary US compilation Nuggets or New Zealand’s equivalent, How Is The Air Up There? Auckland had the Frisbee scene and Australia had their indie guitar labels from Phantom to Au Go Go. The NME adopted new millennium groups from The Strokes to The Libertines with The Datsuns and The Vines in there too and packaged them as “garage” – a sound you would read about in their pages.
In The Guardian (22 October 2015) the former NME Editor Conor McNicholas recalls the 2002 to 2003 era when he briefly boosted the magazine’s readership. “We owned the conversation around guitar music. That’s what changed in 2005 – we didn’t any more.”
They had career achievements and highpoints weekly or even daily for several years.
The editor recalls seeing the Arctic Monkeys triumphant at Reading Festival. The band had soared online due to the energy of their fans. “The NME had done virtually nothing, and there was this instant fanbase,” said McNicholas.
When writing a history of a New Zealand band, there are always one or two or 10 highpoints in their career that you can’t miss. When writing about The Datsuns, you have to get choosey as they had career achievements and highpoints weekly or even daily for several years.
With this two part biography AudioCulture tried to document the many key points in their career from their opening for The White Stripes in Hamilton to the numerous John Peel sessions, the NME covers, the high profile tours, Japan, V2 label signing, numerous USA tours, SXSW appearances etc. The volume of gigs, media interviews and photo shoots, distances traversed etc – made one wonder whether sleeping was on their schedule.
At times The Datsuns may have played the retro card – a rock incarnation of That 70s Show. A journalist from the NME (23 January 2003) observed singer-bassist Dolf trying to play a sneak preview of the band’s new recording on the tour bus digital-audio-videogame combo-set-up. A frustrated Datsun said: “If this was the 70s there would be ON and VOLUME.”
Dolf de Borst - vocals, bass
Christian Livingstone - guitar
Phil Buscke Somervell - guitar
Ben Cole - drums
Matt Osment - drums