The DMA’s are a band of every day Newtown locals who have taken the world by storm. With a sensitive yet rowdy sound, the DMA’s first gained popularity with their debut single Delete and haven’t stopped providing the serious tunes since. Off the back of their successful debut album ‘Hills End’ is their long awaited second album titled ‘For Now’, released April 27th.
Backyard Opera had a chat to the guitarist Johnny Took ahead of their album release, to discuss their life on the road, the new album and drinking pints with Liam Gallagher.
BYO: You guys must be busy with the upcoming album; how is the preparation going for its release?
JOHNNY: Oh its been great, it’s been cool. It’s a funny thing, because there’s only so much you can do, I guess, until the whole record is out. But I think the response so far, from the singles we’ve put out, have been really good. The album is not crazy crazy different, but I think it’s a nice organic growth for us.
Working with Kim was really great, we learnt a lot off him. And I think it’s sonically the album is in the direction we wanted to go from the last one, and we learnt a lot from the touring over the last couple of years. So, so far it feels good.
Also really excited because there are some songs that aren’t necessarily the singles that we are excited for people to hear. Quite often the people’s favourites are the ones that feel closer to you because they weren’t singles.
BYO: What’s always the best part of creating a new album? The writing of it or the release and tour?
JOHNNY: I think it’s all different. There’s no better or worse. Personally, I prefer the recording, I really love recording. We all love being creative in the studio, we love using crazy instruments; that’s really when you get to express yourself. You can do riffs and textural sonic stuff, picking different synthesisers and sounds and guitar tones and what not. So that’s really fun.
But also, now that the band is starting to get acknowledged a bit more, especially in the UK, the shows have been getting crazier and crazier. Seeing the organic growth of our crowds over there is pretty special.
BYO: I’ve noticed you guys tour UK and Europe a lot! Is there a difference playing home and playing overseas?
JOHNNY: It is different, yeah. Mainly because, the further north you go in the UK the crazier you get. They’re very passionate; they almost bring some of that football fever stuff to the gigs.
Also, in Australia, because of the population, you’re really only playing five or six gigs, in the capital cities. We’re doing a couple of Enmore’s this time round, and people will travel to Sydney to get to the shows. However in the UK, you can hit Birmingham, London, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, you can do 20 dates and do the same crowd. There’s more people over there. So that’s kind of cool.
BYO: Taking it back to the new album ‘For Now’; was there a particular meaning you wanted to portray?
JOHNNY: Not really, all the songs are around a year and a half old to 9 years old, you know. There’s a song called Tape Deck Sick on it that was made when Mason wrote Delete, when he was 19, so 9 years ago.
There’s no common theme. It’s just that the songs felt right together. We don’t like to go too crazy deep into meaning of songs, because that’s the beautiful thing about music, everyone can pull what they want from it; if you deconstruct it too much it can lose some of the magic.
BYO: The lyrics within the new album and even your old stuff seems so deeply personal and intimate; are they inspired by real events and feelings?
JOHNNY: Um, bit of both. I never like being too literal, me personally, with writing.
We all write the lyrics together or sometimes its Mason, sometimes it’s mine. It’s kind of different every time.
BYO: Do you think you guys have grown up as a band or as individuals since Hills End?
JOHNNY: Yeah totally. Not saying it’s better now, but I guess you learn a lot from touring; what kind of sounds you wanna make, and what type of record you wanna do.
Hills end was hills end, it was great and there was definitely things that need working on with it, but I’ve heard Paul Kelly talk about growing up in the public eye and what not, so I guess we just keep learning, keep going forward.
I don’t think anyone wants to release the same record. It would be boring if we released something that was exactly like Hills End. ‘For Now’ is not like that, and the next record won’t be the same as the previous two.
BYO: Have you already started working on the next one?
JOHNNY: Yes. It’s already turning out to be a bit heavier. More punky.
BYO: There is such a vast contrast in some of the styles of songs you guys produce, it shows great versatility and range. How would you describe your genre of music?
JOHNNY: I call it garage pop, that’s probably the closest thing. We love pop music, we love pop melodies, there’s also facets of so many different genres that we also thing are great.
BYO: Did you listen to anything growing up that inspires your music now?
JOHNNY: Um, well I was always a big Springstein fan. When I first heard the Stone Roses first record when I was 15, I listened to that freakout stuff. Most of the guitar tones that mason pulls are from those early Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Junior records as well. We totally do a bit of all that.
BYO: Do you guys have a favourite place to play?
JOHNNY: Sydney’s really special; growing up in Sydney and going to so many gigs here and then all of a sudden you’re playing gigs at the Enmore, and it’s a pretty brilliant feeling. It’s like bucket list shit. You think about how many times you’ve watched your favourite artist on that same stage; that’s pretty special.
It’s also pretty amazing to going to Glasgow and having some of the craziest concerts we’ve ever done. It’s hard to believe people are so into it. I guess when you’re a kid and you first get into music, you never think that people on the other side of the world will be that passionate about the music. We could’ve easily been dismissed by the UK, because we have heavy brit pop influences, but they’ve taken us under their wing and embraced us more than ever.
BYO: Any absolutely crazy tour stories you can share?
JOHNNY: I’ve got a couple of weird ones. Me and mason were play fighting in San Sebastian one time and he slipped over at the bar and cracked his head open and got blood everywhere. I had to hold him down while we stapled his head together and stuff.
Also watched the Manchester Derby with Liam Gallagher; that was pretty cool - after he rocked up to our gig. Hanging out with him and his son drinking pints and screaming at the TV in the pub. It was pretty cool.
When we first went to America, we did like 26 dates in a month, playing in front of 7 people at some places. But drove from New York to LA. This was real early on too. Obviously people in the middle of American weren’t really into DMA’s and shit, but it was a good experience. That was another box you can tick; driven from one side of America to another.
Coachella was pretty amazing.
BYO: How would you compare Coachella to something like Splendour in the Grass?
JOHNNY: It is pretty different; it’s very superficial. Just heaps of really wealthy people from LA go, and all they want to do is go backstage. Backstage is a big thing – there’s always some cool famous person hanging out backstage. So it’s pretty weird like that. But, to be a fly on the wall is pretty interesting as well.
BYO: Talk to us about the dynamic of the band – do you guys ever get sick of each other after constantly touring together?
JOHNNY: We’re pretty lucky, because some bands are only 2 or 3 people, but we’ve got a six piece; we’re all best friends, if you get bored of one person you can go hang out with the other. Keep changing it up.
BYO: How would you describe the DMA’s in one sentence?
JOHNNY: Oh Jesus, I don’t know. We just like to write. We write pop tunes with noisy pop melodies with noisy guitars.
The DMA’s new album For Love is out now. Listen to it online, or buy your copy today. For more information on their upcoming tour or the album, head to their website.