DMA'S on new album How Many Dreams?: "We wanted to open up the sonic palette"
The LP sees the Sydney indie rock trio - comprising Tommy O'Dell, Matt Mason and Johnny Took - push their sonic boundaries further than ever before and showcases some of the group's most vulnerable song writing yet.
Today, we catch up with Johnny backstage on the boys' relentless record store signing tour to get an insight into the making of the album; from the obstacles presented through the COVID pandemic to their hopes of playing Glastonbury once again.
Asked how it feels to release their fourth full-length work, Johnny says: "I think you always get nervous, there’s a huge vulnerability to it. You’re learning in the public eye. You’re taking chances, and you never know if people are going to like that. You’re just winging it.
"It’s always a bit scary, but one thing that hasn’t changed it that we’re proud of every album we’ve released."
Chatting to Johnny, one thing's clear; DMA'S are keen to keep evolving with each album. There's no musical snobbery here, either. They're a group totally open to new ideas, with nothing off limits.
"How Many Dreams? is an extension of THE GLOW. We opened up the sonic palette and broadened our horizons a bit.
"I came into electronic music late on. I’d played in rock bands inspired by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Black Angels and was inspired by those Nineties Britpop bands. Tommy was always into dance music, then I started getting into it about six years. It’s a different style of writing and production. De Carle was one of the first songs where we’d made a full f*cking dance track that was as hard as we wanted it to be. That song’s big.
"I think it’s a good trait, as an artist, to be open to trying new things. You have to make that journey, because the next album we make will always be affected by what we’ve learnt along the way. We never just wanted to do rock music the whole way, that’s just not how our brains work. We’re always trying to learn, change and adapt."
Asked which tracks he's most excited to perform live on the group's upcoming tour, Johnny says: "How Many Dreams? could work as a really good opener. We also do an acoustic version of Forever, which is really beautiful. We strip away those big production elements – the strings, the beats – and just play it with an acoustic guitar, piano and vocals. Then you really hear that song for its insecurities.
"A lot of people have been loving Get Ravey, too. Tommy sings the verses in his lower register, then when he hits the chorus he reaches as high as he can sing. There’s huge range with where the vocals sit; it makes that chorus super euphoric. 21 Year Vacancy and Forever get a great reaction, too.
"The biggest songs we’ve ever had have been the ballads, pretty much; Silver, Delete, even the cover of Cher’s Believe. There’s something about DMA’S ballads that connects with people. But what I love about this album is there there’s the more rock and dance tracks; there’s something for everybody on there."
WATCH DMA'S Forever music video below:
With the band's last album THE GLOW having reached the UK Top 5 in July 2020, mid-COVID pandemic, much of How Many Dreams? was written and recorded through the world's lockdowns.
"One of the reasons why songs like De Carle came about is because we had that two years off touring," Johnny explains. "We were experimenting with different sounds in the studio, just trying to find a silver lining through the sh*t that was COVID. We just thought 'we’ve got to make something out of this time."
And, now usual service has resumed, the lads have hopes of taking their live shows to new heights.
"We’d love to do Glastonbury again. If they asked us, we’d do it," says Johnny. "The main thing for us is live music. Especially after the pandemic, live music is just so important to us. I feel like we’ve always had a pretty good live show, but we just want to keep growing it, tweaking it and making it better and better.
"We’d love to become known as a band that reaches that tier where they can play a night time slot at a festival. We’ve got our biggest ever Australian tour coming up, too, which is so exciting."
Catch DMA'S performing at Y Not? Festival in Pikehall, Derbyshire this July.
DMA'S new album How Many Dreams? is out now via I OH YOU/MUSHROOM GROUP.