With the dust only just beginning to settle on their biggest show to date - March's sell-out gig at O2 Academy Brixton - DMA’S took time out of their busy promotional tour to sit down with us.
With the core of their fan base being built on these shores through a sound echoing Oasis and The Stone Roses, guitarist Matt Mason tells us all about the bold steps the Australian outfit are taking on their upcoming third studio album, The Glow, life on the road with Liam Gallagher and how DMA’s are destined for bigger stages.
Gigwise: Thanks for joining us! First off, let’s talk about the sound on the new album The Glow. Your first album, Hills End had a rustic bedroom-recording feel to it, things were slightly more polished on For Now, is it just natural progression to arrive at the new glossy sound?
Matt Mason: Yeah! It’s sort of what we have always wanted to do but we haven’t had the budget to pull off. You say about Hills End was a bit more DIY. It was recorded in Johnny [Took, guitarist]’s bedroom and a concrete, hole-in-the-wall studio in Sydney and I feel like as we have been allowed bigger budgets, the production quality has been better.
GW: You recorded parts of The Glow in Hollywood, so did that have a bearing on the sound at all?
MM: Yeah! The songs ‘Silver’ and ‘Round & Around’ were recorded at a studio called The Grove which is an hour and a half drive from Sydney with a producer called Scott Horscroft. Then we did three more tracks with Stuart Price. He did that song (starts singing ‘Hung Up’ by Madonna)…yeah, he did that, so we started jamming on piano and stuff. We didn’t care that he’d worked with New Order or The Killers, when we heard he did that we were like ‘fucking sign him up!’ So we did three songs with him in RAK studios in London and we finished the rest of it off in Hollywood. But, I don’t think Hollywood was as much of an influence on the record as Stuart was.
GW: You mentioned before about not having the budget to do this polished sound before. The new songs definitely have that greater production value but…
MM: The songs are still shit?!
GW: No, not at all! Stylistically the songs are a lot different to what you have done before. So why was that decision made on this record?
MM: We’re just trying something new I guess. We’ve been talking about - in the next year or so – going back with the guy that recorded our first record and try to do something with that garage-y/ DIY vibe, a quicker and punkier EP to go full-circle and let those fans [from Hills End era] know that we haven’t forgotten about them. So this new sound isn’t a permanent thing – we just had the opportunity there to do it, someone else is paying for it and we were like ‘fuck it! Let’s do it!’
GW: On tracks like ‘Life Is A Game Of Changing’ – it has a dance feel to it…almost like it is ready to be remixed?
MM: Yeah well Orbital have already done a version, which is crazy! I heard it and it’s pretty mental. It’s good, they have kept the guts and structure of the song and not changed it. If you like the original song, I think you’ll like this remix.
GW: Listening to The Glow, you mentioned ‘Round & Around’, but other tracks like ‘Hello Girlfriend’ too, they are big, ballsy songs. Is this another side of DMA’S that fans are seeing?
MM: Yeah for sure, but, we will always keep those kind of tracks in there – we love the guitar songs. We have toured as a guitar band for years and there is that whole side of our fanbase that would be pretty pissed off if we completely left those tracks out. We might move away from it in the future – but for now, we’re keeping it there.
GW: You mentioned the potential of an EP going back to the sound from some of your first releases. Do you often look back to Hills End?
MM: I love it. It’s rough around the edges. My favourite guitar music is rough. When we got mixes back from the last record, I felt a bit let down as it sounded a bit too high end. But fair enough, it gets radio play and stuff. But, if I had my way…All of our releases would sound like the first record.
GW: On to the Brixton show, how did you find it?
MM: It was our biggest show ever! Before that, it was up in Manchester. This was our biggest which is surprising as we didn’t think we would play shows that big down in London, we always thought we would be pigeon-holed as a Northern sort of band.
GW: How did you feel the new tunes went down at Brixton?
MM: Our tour manager says he thinks ‘Silver’ is going down and having a better reaction than ‘Delete’ which is mad because that is one of our biggest songs. For a new song to usurp an old one is interesting.
GW: There was a picture of you guys with Liam Gallagher after the show. You have toured with him in the past. Has he ever given you advice or nuggets of wisdom?
MM: Well, we are usually pretty drunk after gigs. I usually go off and cry by myself so you’re better off asking the rest of the band.
GW: You guys have done some great covers in recent times, like ‘Beautiful Stranger’ by Madonna and ‘Believe’ by Cher. Crowds at gigs always love a cover, and a lot of artists in the 1960’s would have a few covers on albums. Would you ever drop some covers on an album?
MM: We always get asked to do the Cher song! We always have to drop songs on set lists anyway so I think we’ve got that covered. I spoke to Tommy [O'Dell, lead singer] about this the other day and he said the next time he gets asked to do a cover he’s gonna sing it really shit intentionally so we don’t get asked to do it again [laughs].
GW: What does success mean for The Glow?
MM: I feel, if all the packaging goes correctly and there are no spelling mistakes in the liner notes, like that’s a success. I feel like we’ve done our job. I saw the coloured vinyl for the first time – if we can hold the finished product and be happy with it, then I feel like that is a success.
The Glow is released on 10 July.