“We’ll always come back to guitars but it’s been fun to try blending them with other instruments and different vibes.”
We caught up with DMA’S guitarist Johnny Took ahead of the release of the band’s third album, ‘The Glow’, to talk about their influences, how they’re switching up their style and what to expect from their massive UK shows later in the year.
Crashing onto the scene with their debut album, ‘Hills End’, back in 2016, the last four years have been a non-stop ride for Sydney trio DMA’S. Renowned for their anthemic, raucous energy and atmospheric live shows, the indie rockers have been making a name for themselves through their thundering melodies and poignant lyrics, with 2018 full-length ‘For Now’ catapulting them to even bigger heights.
Now ready for a change of pace and experimenting with new styles on upcoming album, ‘The Glow’, DMA’S are a force to be reckoned with in the modern indie world. Currently gearing up for their biggest UK shows to date, we sat down with guitarist Johnny Took to discuss everything from the making of the band’s latest single, ‘Life Is a Game Of Changing’, to the songs they’re most excited to give their live debut…
You recently released your latest single, ‘Life Is a Game Of Changing’. Can you tell us about how that song came together?
Johnny: It came together in three sessions over about two years. The basis of the song was written when I was living in Edinburgh, which was my first time living outside of Sydney and overseas. I was embracing the change of lifestyle and had a lot of spare time on my hands as I didn’t have many friends in the new city. Whilst exploring and listening to new styles of music, I penned the verse and chorus one afternoon in my new apartment.
The middle section of the tune was written eighteen months earlier when Mason and I were living above a pub in Sydney and were mucking around with more electronic elements of production. Mason came up with a melody and it became a demo called ‘I Don’t Wanna Get Lost’, which we used as our ‘walk on’ song for a while. Finally, the riff was an old voice memo of Mason’s which our producer, Stuart Price, suggested to change into the arpeggiated synth hook.
That single is taken from DMA’S upcoming third album, ‘The Glow’, which is coming out in July. Could you sum up the record in three words ahead of its release?
Johnny: Embrace the change.
Your sound has drawn obvious comparisons to a lot of classic British bands, including the likes of Oasis and The Stone Roses. But who actually are your biggest influences?
Johnny: We all have different influences between the three of us, even though there are many that cross over. They range from Bruce Springsteen, Wilco, The Stone Roses, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, The Chemical Brothers, Joni Mitchell, Pavement, Dave Rawlings, Gillian Welch, Underworld and The Verve – I could go on forever. It’s fine being compared to British bands though because we’re into a lot of them and we love our British fans.
It seems as though you’re constantly experimenting with the sound and style of DMA’S, having teased that this upcoming record is heading in a more electronic direction. Is it important to you that you shake things up a bit on each new release?
Johnny: Recording and demoing in our own studio, or what ever space we have available, has been a massive part of our growth and development. I think our love for sound production and songwriting has grown naturally over the years and so has our need to experiment with new genres and production techniques. We’ll always come back to guitars but it’s been fun to try blending them with other instruments and different vibes.
You’re going to be playing some massive shows over in the UK this year. What can fans expect to see from your live sets?
Johnny: Guitar-driven explosions, a couple of dance bangers but mainly crowd sing-a-longs.
How do you plan to incorporate the more electronic elements that you’re introducing on ‘The Glow’ into your live show going forward?
Johnny: We use a Nord keyboard that is pretty dynamic so most of our pad sounds can be recreated on that. I’ve been using an SP-404 which is great for sampling specific sounds off the record. Our drummer also has triggers on his kick and snare drums, so even though he’s playing them live, from front of house they sound like drum samples. We were already using in-ear monitors so incorporating everything with limited track wasn’t too hard. It was important for us to play as much of the songs live as possible with the line-up we have.
Which song from the new record are you most excited about giving it’s live debut?
Johnny: ‘Cobracaine’, because we can extend it to go on for ages and it’s going to pump at festivals.
What upcoming bands are you listening to that people should be checking out right now?
Johnny: Planet, Hayley Mary, Inhaler, Hatchie, Magnified Desire and Gauci.
Once ‘The Glow’ is released and your huge UK shows are all wrapped up, what are your goals going forward with DMA’S?
Johnny: Record an even better LP4.
DMA’S will be playing shows across the UK throughout 2020, don’t miss your chance to see the band performing songs from their upcoming album, ‘The Glow’. Get your tickets here.
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