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Written by Michael Carr on June 1, 2009

Entering Oberfjord Gymnasium in Bergen Norway it’s very easy to spot Datarock’s Fredrik Saroea. Draped in one of the band’s trademark red tracksuits he waves me over as he partakes in a particularly energetic and suggestive aerobics workout in anticipation of returning to Australia to play Come Together.

The gym is packed with overweight forty-somethings all putting on a sickening display of fluid and undulating gelatinous flesh. “We have two festivals going on right now so there are a lot of people here,” he tells me in his Scandinavian drawl.

Excited by the prospect of local music festivals, and festival goers, I eagerly press Fredrik for details of the event and where I might go to enjoy some of that famous Norwegian party spirit. “These two festivals, I wouldn’t be surprised if the average age is over 40,” he explains, laughing and gesturing to the rest of the room.

“I’m sure something crazy is going on though, but I think it’s probably more the kind of sad grown up version of going crazy, you know like infidelity in hotel rooms and stuff, the boring stuff.”

Ushering me over to a change room he hands me one of the famous red tracksuits and tells me to suit up in charmingly broken English. Five minutes later I exit dressed head to toe in red and dreading what I know is next. Aerobics.

“Can you imagine at the early 80s,” he asks me mid squat-thrust. “You had this culture of aerobics and exercise it was all because the 68ers, you know the hippies, they were getting old but they were all still into free sex and drugs and stuff. So the only way to make that all happen in 81, the same guys would have to work out, and there was not a better way to keep the free sex focus than aerobics, you know, like it’s not very sexy doing, like, a marathon.”

I ask whether that 80s aerobics mentality is where Datarock draws its inspiration from and I am met with quite an unexpected answer. “It’s a combination of Jane Fonda in the late 60s and the aerobics videos she did in the early 80s. You know the opening scene of Barbarella, the striptease, that is the best striptease, you know anti-gravity striptease, isn’t that something!” he almost yells, his head between his feet.

“If you combine that opening scene from Barbarella with the aerobics videos Jane Fonda did in the early 80s, then you see how Datarock can come about. It’s certainly a reaction to being exposed to Jane Fonda.”

Bemused and somewhat aroused I pursue this new Fonda-centric line of questions. “She was picking up girls for herself and her husband in the 70s so they could have fast threesomes” he continues kicking his legs up in front of him like a dancer. “In retrospect she feels like she was forced into it by her husband. I thought that sounds a little bit… you know, why would you go out and find a girl you could sleep with with your husband just under pressure. I think she was pretty liberated you know. She’s a Vietcong, sex orgy, aerobics anti-gravity striptease goddess.”

“If you combine that opening scene from Barbarella with the aerobics videos Jane Fonda did in the early 80s, then you see how Datarock can come about. It’s certainly a reaction to being exposed to Jane Fonda.”

By this point I am exhausted, struggling to complete the intiricate routine of pelvic thrusts and lunges Fredrik is guiding me through. Fredrik on the other hand is a picture of relaxation as he continues to speak to me in a calm and composed manner.

“Hey check it out,” he tells me mid pirouette. “Last week I saw Breakfast Club again, and you know the scene where the tough guy comes into the room and the teacher comes back in and he has to hide underneath the desk of Molly Ringwald? You know, he is sitting under the desk, he is looking at her undies. So if you put it in slow motion you can actually see Molly Ringwald’s panties, for you know a good couple of seconds which would allow you to print a pretty nice picture of Molly Ringwald’s undies.”

“You got to do it,” he commands, “and you have to print it very large, put it in the ceiling of your bedroom and then everytime you make love with someone you can think about Molly Ringwald,” he finishes with a tone of victory as I collapse in a heap on the gym mat.

I come back to my senses a few moments later as Fredrik splashes some water on my face. I’m amazed to see the man has barely worked up a sweat. Intrigued and somewhat jealous I have to ask him where all the energy comes from.

“You know when Spiderman puts on the black Spiderman suit and it has it’s own personality? Well our tracksuit is like that, it’s a separate individual, when you put it on you get a separate personality,” he explains showing me the exquisite inseam and stitching. “When you put this on you’re a dancing hyperactive hyper-energetic entertainment unit. And it all comes from the red tracksuit and that’s why the new album is called Red, cos the new album is a tribute to the red tracksuit, the honorary member of Datarock, the red tracksuit, where all the fun comes from.”

Assuming it only works on the band, or people who are equally deluded, I muster the strength to stand and insist Fredrik take me to a bar so I can replenish my journalistic fuel cells. Arriving at a local brasserie, the kind of place with animal heads on the walls and in the food, the barman pours me a heady pint of ale and I finally get to ask Fredrik about the band’s new album Red.

“The live show is kind of different to the first album, so I think Red is sort of a continuing of what happened on the first album but it’s like the essence of the first album combined with the essence of our live show.”

“What we wanted to do was to create an album that was perfect for our live show. It’s a little bit more energetic, it has a little bit more musicianship and it’s a little more suited to the high-octane live show that we do. It’s more tied in with songs like Sex Princess and Fa Fa Fa and Night Flight To Uranus, it doesn’t really have a new Computer Camp Love you know what I mean.”

I assure him that I do and ask him if he’s looking forward to coming back to Australia. “Oh yeah,” he exclaims excitedly spilling a drink all over the woman next him and not even noticing.

“The only country that picked up on Datarock early was Australia, oh and Norway. I’m really looking forward to coming back to Australia because that’s really where it all started and that’s why we’ve been touring all around the world so hard. You know if it works in Norway and it works on the other side of the world in Australia then you know, lets go for it,” he tells me standing and raising his hand symbolically as a cheeky smile spreads across his face.

However by this point the woman he moistened has returned with the management. Having been asked to leave as he is ‘making a scene’ I quickly make my exit in an attempt to avoid Norway’s draconian law enforcement.

As I leave I catch one last glimpse of Fredrik. Arm around the woman, he’s leading the security staff through a few aerobics moves and the spilled drink seems forgotten. I guess you just can’t fight the power of the tracksuit.

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