With fans tucked utterly under their thumbs, DMA’S have been teasing the album that looks set to fly straight into unanimous praise, and soundtrack countless raucous crowds. We talked to Matt about their anthemic, ever-evolving sound, and how it comes to a gloriously well-mastered peak in the form of The Glow.
The Glow! Talk to us about that title.
We find it very difficult to agree on album titles. It’s a big deal, and everyone wants to love it. So someone will say, ‘well what about this idea’ and someone else will say they don’t know about it. It was taking weeks and weeks, and we couldn’t agree on anything. There was a lyric in one of our songs that said ‘the glow’, and our manager said how about we just call the album The Glow? It doesn’t really mean anything; it was just something we all settled on. Some bands we know are sort of like, you know, the singer would do it all. We have a point that everything we do is split three ways. Same as our band name – it doesn’t mean anything.
“Tommy’s started painting again … people on building sites are coming up to him like what the fuck are you doing here”
Has lockdown taken much of a toll on the band?
Basically everything’s back to normal. I’ve got my own studio so I could still make some music and be productive. I was kind of reaching out to people I wanted to collaborate with, and I think people said yes that maybe wouldn’t have, like if they were on tour – but everyone was bored so they said yeah. I know a lot of Aussie hip hop artists, from our friend group and scene and I’ve just been making so much music with them, a lot of sort of heavy metal.
I wanted to get Tommy to come and record with me, but he’s been like – you know how Tommy used to be like a painter, before the band. A painter decorator, not like an artist. So he’s started to do that again. A lot of people who had projected incomes from festivals gigs, and stuff … yeah I think he’s just doing that for a bit of extra coin. He was telling me that people on building sites are coming up to him being like, are you the singer from that band? And he says yeah, and they’re like what the fuck are you doing here, like. Wearing high-vis and …. But he does it ‘cause he loves it and he gets to spend time with his brother. And then Johnny lives in Melbourne so I can’t really be making music with him. So I’ve been branching out, working with other people. And also because our album got delayed – it was because of the actual production of the twelve inch vinyl, after the virus they couldn’t physically make them.
You released a stunning video with the latest single; how involved are you with visuals like that?
We insist on getting only our friends to make clips, it’s certainly not up to the label. Toto did the clips for ‘Step Up The Morphine’ and he really nailed it. Once we had over the ideas to them they’re pretty much in control. We do go through it and take out shots we don’t like of ourselves, like we’ll go that wasn’t very flattering, can you take out that shot at 2:40 of me? I think if we’re gonna get involved that’s basically the extent of it. Its like you know when its your birthday or something and your friend posts a photo? And like, they look really good … so yeah the shot’ll be great and you’ll be like yeah but I don’t like my profile. It can’t be in there.
You released ‘Lay Down’ and ‘Delete’ so early on in your career and they’re such beautiful tracks; do you ever feel a pressure to do even better?
I think if we did think that we wouldn’t have put out the album we did. I know I shouldn’t be reading comments online, but I sort of do. I don’t really take negative criticism badly, like you know when you’re sitting in the park with your friends and everyone’s sort of rinsing each other and being like, mean but … d’you know what I mean? Harmless. So I don’t mind reading it, and there’s a lot of people disappointed saying like, where’s the original sound gone? The new albums sonically quite different, but those songs were written so long ago, we’ve changed.
There’s such growth and development between your first few tracks and this new album; have you come under new influences, or just grown as a band?
You know what it is, early on, the first couple of things we recorded were in our bedrooms. And this was a really long time ago, so we didn’t know what we were doing when it came to recording and producing, we were amateurs. So I don’t think we’ve grown as song-writers and stuff it’s just now we can go in some of the best studios in the world and record with this amazing equipment. We’re just the same guys, we just have more opportunities now. People say our live shows have changed and like, we used to have to carry our own amps in and stuff. Now we can have whatever we want, say I want this keyboard and three drums … and you can just have that.
“I think we might annoy some old fans.“
Learning Alive stands out as a favourite of mine, how did that track come about?
My favourite song. That’s my favourite song on the album, easy. We just put it out the other day with a fan made video, and I got so emotional watching that clip because its all of us on tour, and everyone that works for us candidly shot. And because no ones been able to tour and stuff its pretty emotional, missing each other. That ‘Learning Alive’ song I think had two or three different chorus’, until Johnny – I didn’t write it, any of it, either, by the way – I think it had a bunch of parts until Johnny found one little thing that worked perfectly with it. Always my favourite songs on our records are ones I didn’t write – you’d be a wanker if your favourite songs were ones you’d written. I think if you write a song there’s no magic to it. I’m not gonna get goosebumps listening to my own songs, I know too much.
How much do you pay attention to social media reactions to your work?
I think I miss a lot of it. When we first started people compared us to Oasis, and I think that was because we didn’t have that much material out. If you were going to talk about us you could say, well they have two singles out and the conversation would end there. You had to bring up something else, so they’d go with the Oasis thing. I’m not English, I don’t listen to English music. I’ve gotten into The Verve and Stone Roses after being in this band, but the whole Brit-Pop thing? I didn’t really know much about it, so to me it was a bit annoying, cause you’re saying that I’m ripping off something that I’m not. I wrote that Delete song when I was 19, before I’d even met these guys. It’s all love online now. Sometimes when I’m feeling sad I’ll go and read some comments, and they’ll make me feel all warm and fuzzy. We only post shit on English time, like we’ll post when everyone in Australia is sleeping.
“Tommy really wants to play smaller gigs, just for like die-hard fans.”
Are you looking forward to changing up the setlist or is it going to be a nightmare for you?
We’re all really looking forward to it. Because our old stuff is guitar based, and just sort of simple rock and roll band stuff. It’s just so epic when you’re using all this crazy new equipment on stage, we’ve got new monitors – its just a case of convincing Tommy. He says 16 songs, that’s my limit. Like I’ll play for fucking three hours, but his voice … on tour you can become fatigued, so its up to him how many songs we play. But there’s only so many songs you can add before you start pissing all the day one fans off. You’ve gotta try and please everybody. So we’ll probably only add two or three new songs. I know all our fans hate our new shit so it’s like, we’ve gotta play some old stuff too to keep them happy.
We also – Ok, so we really want to, and we were talking to our management about this – have you heard that song ‘Criminals?’ the real poppy one, so that’s gonna be our next single, we’ve just recorded the video clip to that. I’m not going on twitter when that comes out, I think we might annoy some old fans. So we’ve said we’re going to, very soon, record an EP of five or six songs that sound exactly how we used to. Record it ourselves, on a budget, with mics at home, do it really dodgy, and release that. So if anyone’s annoyed it’ll be like, hey we haven’t forgotten about you. I know we’re changing but we also love that kind of DIY guitar sound.
Do you think you ever want to go back to playing the really small, niche venues?
Tommy really does. He really wants to play smaller gigs, just for like die-hard fans. There’s one venue in Sydney we’ve been going to since we were teenagers. And we really wanna put on a show there. It’d be cool to do a show in Manchester as well, that was one of the first shows we played by ourselves in the North. So of course, of course we’d want to do.
Fans can pre-order ‘THE GLOW’ now. It’s available to purchase in heavy weight vinyl as well as a limited edition heavyweight tri colour vinyl which will be available through HMV and independent record stores.
DMA’S May UK & Irish headline tour was postponed due to COVID-19 but they plan to return to the UK this Autumn to play a handful of October shows including their biggest London headline show to date at Alexandra Palace on October 23rd. Tickets are on sale now.
UK TOUR DATES
14thOctober – O2 Guildhall, Southampton
15thOctober- Nick Rayns LCR UEA, Norwich
17thOctober – Bonus Arena, Hull
18thOctober – Hit The North 2020, Newcastle
23rdOctober – Alexandra Palace, London
25thOctober – The Academy, Dublin
26thOctober- The Academy, Dublin
‘THE GLOW’ ALBUM TRACKLIST
1. Never Before
2. The Glow
4. Life Is A Game of Changing
7. Learning Alive
8. Hello Girlfriend
10. Round & Around