Interview | DMA’s

Bianca Holderness

After singing with I OH YOU in February this year, Newtown based three-piece DMA’s have become one of Australia’s most hyped bands. Their debut EP was met with shining reviews around the globe, including Dave Rountree who praised them as having “the swagger of Oasis and the musicality and inventiveness of Arctic Monkeys.”  The band are about to embark on their second national tour in the last six months and I had a chat to guitarist Johnny Took about their self-titled EP, how it came together and what’s next. 

You guys were signed before you’d played any live shows and a lot of your songs off the EP were written years ago, was there a big adjustment sharing your songs in a live setting?
It was pretty weird when we first started playing live. It kind of made the songs real because before they were just recorded and ideas. All of a sudden playing them live kind of brought them to life, which is nice. But we’ve all played in heaps of bands before and did way too many gigs last year in different outfits, so it was fine. We weren’t freaking out, it wasn’t like we never played a show before.

‘Delete’ became such a popular track, was it weird playing live for the first time as DMA’s and to have people singing along?
I think its always weird when you hear people singing one of your songs for the first time. It’s just weird to know that the name’s kind of getting out there, it’s cool. Especially when they sing the lyrics to songs that aren’t ‘Delete’ because you know they were listening to the EP.

You guys have another tour coming up which is mostly sold out right?
Yeah, it’s Bizarre.

Is there anywhere you’re really looking forward to going back and playing again?
Yeah I’m really looking forward to Perth because I really like both of the venues we’re playing – Mojo’s and The Amplifier Capital and I’ve never played in LA properly. I did a really weird show with another band in LA one time that got a bit whack, I don’t know. I didn’t really like it.

What was weird about it?
It was at this warehouse thing, and everyone got a bit too drunk and we nearly missed our flight. Yeah it was whack, but it was cool.

You’ve also got CMJ coming up…
Yeah, man. I’m freaking out. I’ve never been to New York before, I’m freaking out. I’ve never been to New York before so it’ll be great.

Is there any venue in the world you’d really like to play?
I wanna do it all, man. I want to play music around the world. If you’ve got the chance to do that, you’ve got to take it. There are loads of people who want to do that. I think music is timing in a lot of ways. If you happen to release the right music at the right time… I wanna take that chance, I want to play as many gigs as possible in as many corners of the world as possible.

What kind of stuff did you listen to growing up?
My father used to play me a lot of Paul Simon, a lot of Neil Young, Beatles, Dylan. Then, when I was in my teens, I was listening to a lot of American bluegrass; Doc Watson – that was more of the folky stuff. Other aspects… Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Jesus and the Mary Chain, Happy Mondays, Oasis, Stone Roses, Primal Scream and shit like that. It’s weird man, I’ve spoken to people these days about it. This digital age that we live in, if you wanted to listen to Ethiopian Jazz music and start learning it, you could look it up and two minutes later you’d be watching some guy playing Ethiopian Jazz music. Instantly, you could be stimulated by that to write whatever you want. I think it’s really cool. I just went on a massive tangent didn’t I?

Have you found anything lately you’ve really liked?
I’m really enjoying the new King Gizzard album actually, that Oddments one – there are some really great tunes on that. Nothing in particular, I’m pretty shit at the internet, to be honest. You know how some people are really good at it? They get really deep. I’m pretty bad at it, which is probably a good and a bad thing.

I saw the other day Dave Rountree gave you guys record of the week on his Radio show in the UK, are you a Blur fan?
Yeah, I am, and it’s nice when someone credible says something about your band. It’s always nice when anyone says something about your band. I try not to get too excited about it. I try not to get too excited about anything to be honest; I can, but it’s like, I know it’s a process. I just want to keep writing good tunes.

What is the creative dynamic like between you guys? How does your music come together?
All three of us write, but sometimes I’ll bring in nearly a full song or Mason will do the same thing and then off that we bring our own ideas and vibe and melody ideas to it. It works well for us, between the three of us and an acoustic guitar we can vibe and try different chord progressions and melodies. We like having a lot of melodies in our tunes, it keeps it interesting. Working out the best way to piece all of those melodies together without one particular one getting boring. I always have fun doing that. It’s like a sonic jigsaw.

You’ve got some big festival gigs coming up like Falls, Southbound.. What else is coming up you’re looking forward to?
Yeah, they’ll be a laugh. I’m looking forward to summer. I’m looking forward to going to Europe and America which will be mad. Then I’m looking forward to getting home and writing again through the summer. Getting an air-conditioning unit for my room. Oh my god, in my apartment, I have to shut my window when I’m recording and it gets so hot in Sydney. Summer in this room, I’ll be doing takes in pretty much just my underwear just sweating. Hit record, finish the take and open the window and it’s like “Aghh”. So this summer I’m looking forward to investing in an air conditioning unit and writing again basically [laughs]. It’s my favourite thing to do, man. I think it’s the best way to write, to record, for production, chop everything up. It’s a laugh.

Can you say yet when people could maybe expect another release?
Hopefully soon. I’ve got a pretty loose tongue and I’ve been given a bollocking for speaking too much about it but hopefully soon.

Do you think you’ll follow the same kind of sound or take it in a new direction?
DMA’s is funny because we have some songs that are quite sparse and more ballady, which are nearly just an acoustic guitar and the vocal, and some songs where it’s just noise and raw sound kind of vibe. I like good melodies, try and write some good lyrics, whether it’s soft or loud… One day I’d like to get – whether it’s with DMA’s or another project – maybe take it on a more electronic vibe but at the moment I like the way that DMAs is pretty raw and garagey and I think I’d like to keep it that way. I think it’s very easy to overproduce. With tunes I’ve been demoing recently, I’ve done it before, where I’ve put so many fucking guitars on there and then ripped them all back and it wasn’t worth it. So, no particular direction, whatever happens happens. I like the spontaneity of it.

DMA’s Australian Tour Sep / Oct 2014 

Thursday 25th Sep – Mojo’s, Fremantle

Friday 26th Sep – Amplifier, Perth

Thursday 2nd Oct – Brightside, Brisbane

Friday 3rd October – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney – SOLD OUT

Saturday 4th October – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

Thursday 9th October – Rocket Bar, Adelaide

Friday 10th October – Rocket Bar, Adelaide – SOLD OUT

Saturday 11th October – Northcote, Melbourne – SOLD OUT

Sunday 12th October – Northcote, Melbourne

Tickets via