The USA interview series continues backstage at Filter Magazine's Culture Collide, where Larry Heath caught up with Datarock, to discuss just about everything they could possibly think of. But there's lot of discussion about musicals and their latest EP California, triple j, their self proclaimed "most extravagant single in history" and plenty more...
So we're all the way from Australia, you're all the way from Norway... what was your journey like from there to here?
We started off leaving Norway then doing a show in London on Monday. Had a day off Tuesday that wasn’t really a day off at all, and then earlier we went to Chicago, played a show the same day, on Wednesday, got up early went to San Fransisco, did a show the same day. Then came to Los Angeles today.
So how to you do it, how do you keep going? What’s the secret?
I figure, mostly, I’ve discovered the one and a half hour nap, like once you have a little sleep, everything is fine. Then you have the magic wake up and it’s not a problem, really. I guess you just learn from necessity. You sleep on planes, you sleep in cars but, most importantly, everyday is just a lot of fun.
You’re always just so energetic on stage I caught you guys when you were last in Australia a couple of months ago with Groovin’ the Moo festival, which was a bunch great shows. Did you enjoy that experience, it certainly wasn’t your first time in Australia...
No it was the 7th tour. It was great, we had a really good time. We did a lot of interviews before we came and everybody was talking about how Groovin’ the Moo is like the rural festival so we didn’t quite know what to expect, but it was just a great festival. Everyday was amazing. The owners and organisers were with us everyday and the audience was great! There wasn’t anything weird about it, it was just and amazing festival.
The club shows were a lot of fun as well and just the fans in down there! To be doing our 7th tour of Australia is just insane! Yeah it was a lot of fun.
Well we love you down there and in fact you had quite a bit of success in Australia first, before anywhere else, other than home...
Yeah that’s right. Instead of home even! In Norway people didn’t pick up on Datarock until 2009. Yeah, 2009 was like our breakthrough year. I mean we played festivals and stuff in Norway but we weren't really successful outside Australia. Because Australia happened in 2005 right, so it’s not an exaggeration to say that Australia is the foundation of the international work we did.
What we did was, we took everything that we earned in Australia, and just reinvested it in Datarock and just started touring around the world. Then stuff started happening in the UK and the US and it’s almost as if the success of Datarock, grew out of Australia, not Norway. It’s not an exaggeration!
The oddity of it all is that it’s down to basically one person. We had a distribution company in Australia and at that distribution company there was a woman who was a cool girl and had some good friends. She said ‘you want help with Triple J?’ and she happened to know The Doctor and they started playing us and that’s everything. We didn’t have professional help, we didn’t have a PR agency or a strategy... it was just natural and organic, you know, not forced whatsoever. So yeah, thank you Australia!
But you’re here in LA, which is timely. Your new EP is called California. You released two EP’s this year, the most extravagant single in the world, the Catcher in the Rye EP…
Does everyone know the reason why it’s called “the most extravagant single in the world”? Well, it’s a single with 112 bonus tracks and 23 music videos and a concert film and 1500 photos, all wrapped on a 4GB USB stick inside of a designer toy.
But, yes. It’s timely, the new EP is called California which is five tracks off the forthcoming project Datarock the Musical! I’m happy to say that last week before we left, we had a meeting with a production company and it seems that it’s a good chance that Datarock the Musical! might become a film before it’s a stage production.
Will that also be in a collectable toy or released in cinemas?
A pop-up-book! And you can buy costumes so you can play out the characters when you see the film at your local film club. We want to create the new Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Very nice! So are we going to see you in a bit of a Frank-N-Furter-esque outfit?
Yes, definitely! Basically it’s going to be a bit of an exaggeration of the unlikely story of Datarock. So you’ll have the story of four friends forming a band in a city in the middle of nowhere and they have this stupid idea that they can actually take it to an international level. They go on a tour, and from that one tour, they do reach all their ambitions.
If it’s going to happen its going to be fun and stupid. It’s going to be a comedy. It’s going to be a rock opera, a musical... and I there’s not enough rock operas and musicals. Can there ever be enough rock operas and musicals?
I like your answer.
Well, looking forward to hearing from that and if indeed the California EP is a taste of that then it’s very exciting.
Thank you. When we think about it, with like Mamma Mia, you take all your more famous songs and you sort of bind them together with newly written material and California is a really strong indication of how crazy it’s going to sound musically. We’re seriously trying to write golden age musical material. We’re going to write show tunes man. It’s going to be so emotional, you’re going to cry!
It’s a lot of fun.
We’ve been around for 10 years and we’re still doing the red tracksuits, we’re still doing pretty much the same show with new material, so it’s going to be a lot of fun for us to take it somewhere different.
I imagine the sale of the tracksuits at your shows has helped the beer fund on the road…
For sure. One of the things though, not just for us, I think it’s for a lot of bands like us, you don’t sell a lot of albums. It’s very hard to sell albums, it really is! So merchandise has definitely helps. But, you know, it’s one of those things, that you sometimes feel kind of bad about it because you don’t want to cheat them, but people seem to enjoy it a lot.
We did a show in Melbourne and I just went outside to have a cigarette in my normal clothes so I didn’t think anyone would notice. In a matter of minutes you had 15 grown ups from up to 40 something and down to 18 in tracksuits, the full Datarock suit, and most of then had been travelling for over an hour to get there with public transportation, so that’s really cool. Would you do that? I’m not sure that I would with any band I like. So it’s really flattering. It’s not just merchandise, it’s something that people can really have fun with.
Well I look forward to seeing you over the weekend. It’ll be the first time I’ll see you outside of Australia. Thanks for taking the time and we hope to see you back in Australia, hopefully for a performance of the musical!
Yeah, wouldn’t that be fun!
Datarock's latest EP California is in stores now.