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The Datsuns: out of hibernation and into the "horrifying" world of social media

A press shot of the Datsuns
(Image credit: Hellsquad Records)

When they shot on to the scene 20 years ago with their self-titled debut album, bristling with mammoth anthems, punk rock swagger and a dose of psychedelic fuzz, The Datsuns were hailed as the saviours of rock. 

Five more albums followed, and then things went quiet – all four members were living in different countries, and their last album was released seven years ago. But just when we thought they were finished, they’ve fired back with killer seventh album Eye To Eye. Bassist and singer Dolf de Borst tells us why the return has taken so long.

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What’s been going on with The Datsuns during the past seven years? 

The last record was called Deep Sleep, which was apt because we went into a bit of a hiatus [laughs]. We started making this new record back in 2016. And then because of the logistics of living in different places [Sweden, the UK and New Zealand], we went back and got involved with families, having small children, just life. I also wasn’t sure what I wanted to say on the record, which took a couple years to work out. 

What did you end up writing about? It sounds like Brain To Brain is about the dangers of the digital world? 

I think there are some great things about social media, but the flip-side, what we’re talking about in that song, is that you’re privy to people’s secrets and demons in a voyeuristic way, which is quite horrifying. It’s very science-fiction to me. 

The song Dehumanise is about how we’ve become cogs in the machinery of society, and Suspicion is about the paranoia and cynicism of our time. But some songs are more personal, or with lyrics that I think sound good – I’m really into T. Rex, and those ‘word salads’ they used.

Was there anything that influenced the album musically?

Christian [Livingstone, guitar] has got this bedrock of classic rock stuff like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. I’ve been listening to a lot of sixties psychedelic pop. We also went through a phase of trading rare, heavy seventies nuggets, like compilations.

When we make demos I usually take drums loops from obscure seventies vinyl and write my own riffs on top of that. But we’ve always listened to different kinds of music – when I moved to Sweden I got schooled on death metal. If you listen to the first record through to the latest one, every record is branching out and trying different things.

It’s been twenty years since your debut album. How do you feel now, looking back? 

Those early days stand out – coming to London for the first time, making a bunch of friends. One good side of social media was that when we came out of hibernation you could see people saying that’s great, sharing their memories of our songs, the odd time saying things like they played our song at a funeral. You feel really humbled by that. 

Is it all systems go now, or will there be another hiatus? 

We’ve written a lot of songs the past few years, so what I really want to do is get into the studio and start making another one at the end of this year. Because even though I’m happy with this new record, it does feel like my headspace from a few years ago. It’d be nice to do it the way it probably should be done – just get into a space and do it! 

Eye To Eye is out now via Hellsquad Records.