Aussie three-piece outfit DMA’s recently returned with the follow-up to their hugely successful album Hills End.
Since the release of their debut album in 2016, the DMA’s have been taking the music world by storm. The band’s latest offering For Now charted in the official UK album chart at #13 and in the independent album chart at #2, a significant achievement for the Sydney trio.
National Rock Review recently caught up with the DMA’s guitarist Matt Mason at the Northumbria Institute in Newcastle to talk about the band’s sound, their new album, the music scene back home in Australia and the DMA’s plans for the rest of 2018.
NRR: Your sound is often compared to a lot of 90s indie/Britpop bands like Oasis and the Stone Roses; stuff like that. How does that make you feel?
DMA’s: I get it, I completely get it, but for me personally, and I can only speak for myself, I grew up listening to only American music and I’d never really listened to English music at all or took much notice of Britpop or anything like that until I started playing in this band. I completely get it but it does annoy me because when people are talking about bands that they assume we are influenced by none of the bands that influence me are ever mentioned. So being compared to English 90’s bands annoys me a bit because none of my favourite bands are ever mentioned which I think is …it doesn’t really matter, but I get it like I get all of the comparisons to Britpop, it makes a lot of sense.
NRR: You recently released your new album For Now. It seems like your sound has evolved since the release of Hills End back in 2016. Do you think that you’ve now reached the definitive sound for the band or do you think it will continue to grow?
DMA’s: We started off originally as a band that was just sort of electronic drum beats and like no real guitars and that’s how the band was originally supposed to be. So when we’re signing to our label IOU Records in Australia, they said that they wouldn’t sign us until we got a band together and we could play a live show.
We wanted to sign to them so we got a couple of our friends and organised a band and rehearsed and we played in front of them and they said great, we will sign you now. But, that sound was very different from the sound that we had originally wanted to do live because we would have needed drum machines and all this. It’s just a lot easier to get guitars and drums, and because we just had them lying around so you can go and do this live instead of getting synthesisers which we didn’t even own. So hopefully later on when we have time we are going to revert back to that original sound, which is how the band is meant to sound. This current sound now is kind of just an accident.
NRR: For Now covers a lot of ground musically. You’ve got the harder indie-rock songs on there with tracks like “Break Me” and the title track, and then there’s the sort of psychedelic numbers like “Emily Whyte” and then there are the ballads like “In The Air” and “Health”. When you started work on this album were you open to musical experimentation or did you have a distinct vision where you wanted to go with the album?
DMA’s: No vision, when we make albums it’s just like our label tells us that we need an album and so we just get twelve songs together, twelve or thirteen songs together. Like one of the songs on the record is ten years old and like one of them is five years old and stuff like that. So we don’t go in with a vision for the album or any kind of concept, we need twelve songs and we just pick the ones that we think go well together and then that’s it.
You know I said before that between the first album and the second one that there’s been like a progress; I don’t think lyrically or musically there’s a big difference, it’s just the fact that the first album was recorded in a bedroom and the second album was recorded in a very expensive studio, that’s it.
NRR: You’ve got a really raw sound, I just wondered how you go about capturing that energy in the studio. Are you all in the same room at the same time when you are tracking the songs?
DMA’s: Yeah, this album was the first time we did that. Yeah, the bass, the drums and my electric guitar and the acoustic was all done at the same time, but the acoustic guitar was done in a separate room. But the bass, my guitar and the drums were all done standing in one room together, which does give it a live element.
NRR: Do you have a favourite track on the album or a favourite track to perform live and if so which song and why?
DMA’s: It would be “Emily Whyte” because it’s just epic sounding live and I just like that I get a really loud guitar sound and I’ve got this new little thing that I stand on and there’s a smoke machine and shit, it’s cool.
NRR: Listening to the record, as we mentioned, there’s a wide variety of sounds and influences in there. In terms of your own personal tastes, I know you said you are not into the 90’s Britpop thing.
DMA’s: I’m not saying that I’m not into it, but it’s definitely not my main inspiration.
NRR: I just wondered what’s the one album in your record collection that you couldn’t live without.
DMA’s: Probably Sonic Nurse by Sonic Youth. It’s probably my favourite record. The music that I listen to at home isn’t necessarily the music that I write, which is weird.
NRR: What’s the music scene like at home in comparison to over here in the UK?
DMA’s: There’s a lot of bands still in and around Australia, like a lot of people start bands and most of my friends are in more than one band. But I think a lot fewer people are going to shows and a lot of venues are shutting down because of that. Yeah, people go to shows, probably about half as much as they used to ten years ago, just the live music scene is struggling all around Australia. Yeah, there’s still a lot of bands, just people don’t really go to gigs anymore.
One thing I like about England is that people go to a show and they will come and see the support band, like Johnny’s little brother and their mates Planet, are supporting us and the last two nights that we’ve done the venue has been half full while they were playing. We’ve had bands support us in Australia and even though the show is sold out there will only be 20 or 30 people there for the support band and then everyone will come just as we play.
NRR: We are halfway through the year and I was just wondering what the plans are for the rest of 2018?
DMA’s: It’s all planned out. We’ve got basically a calendar planned out until next March. We are going back to Australia when we are done here for shows that start on the 1st June through to about half way through June. We are coming back here to do a show with Liam Gallagher at Finsbury Park and then back to Australia to do one of the big festivals there called Splendour in the Grass. Then back here to tour and then back to Australia to tour again and then to do some festivals over the summer, the summer run of festivals in Australia and then that’s it. Yeah, that’s it, once summer is over we haven’t really booked anything in. Yeah, it’s just travelling between Australia and England a lot, a lot of very long distance flights.
NRR: You are obviously clocking up some air miles.
DMA’s: I do have a lot of points on the Virgin website.
DMA’S are set to return to the UK for further dates this summer, including festival slots at Reading and Leeds, Summer Sessions in Glasgow, and Finsbury Park supporting Liam Gallagher.
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