Datarock: Grumpy, middle-aged men making happy music

By Liam Carroll

A little girl wearing a Datarock outfit is perched on the shoulders of a Datarock band member as he stands in the crowd. Photo by Liam Carroll

The band Datarock took the stage at Miniøya in matching sweatsuits and large sunglasses, playing upbeat music that brings kids and parents right to the edge of the stage. After seeing this outburst of joy, you might be shocked if you heard lead singer Fredrik Saroea describe the band members as a “bunch of grumpy middle aged men.”

Maybe successful, charismatic, grumpy old men might be more accurate.

The Bergen-based band closed out the 2018 Miniøya children’s music festival in front of one of the largest crowds this year. In honor of the venue, the band members brought their kids and dressed them in dark red jumpsuits. At the end of their set, they danced with their kids in the audience and brought them up on stage.

During an interview after their set, lead singer Fredrik Saroea provided some context to the performance. “We’re a bunch of grumpy, middle-aged men making music in Norway,” he said. Even he’s not sure what makes the band so popular. “We just fit into a certain category.”

He said they’ve played huge shows, like Coachella and Reading and Leeds, and tiny club venues. But the biggest audience for their music has been in the world of video games and television advertising.

Datarock formed in 2000. The band has released four albums; the latest, “Face the Brutality,” was released in March this year. It is the band’s first album in nine years.

small boy in the crowd sits on his dad's shoulder
A young fan soars above the Minioya crowd as Bergen-based band Datarock performs. Photo by Liam Carroll

Datarock’s music has been featured on a number of video games, including Electronic Arts FIFA (soccer) video games. Their songs have also been the soundtrack for international advertisements for giants like Google and Apple.

“I don’t know why our music is used so widely,” Saroea said. “I want to know why so I can make more music to help the world.” He paused, smiled and said, “And then finally buy myself a Tesla.”

The Miniøya performance highlighted some of the traits that make Datarock such a consistent success. One trait is attention to detail. The Miniøya festival provides a sign language translator so hearing-impaired children can follow along. Datarock provided the translator with a pair of Datarock sweats, to make her part of their show.

One of the key elements in music is enjoyment, for both the listener and the artist, while Datarock brings another level of fun to the live concert experience through their upbeat songs, non-stop energy and active crowd participation whether that’s getting the fans to sing their songs or going out to perform alongside them, it’s interesting to see how playing their type of music affects them.

Video: Datarock interview highlights