Three-piece Aussie band DMA’s has built undeniable levels of transatlantic success over the years. Arguably why they’re currently gearing up for a massive 47-date tour. We sat down with the band’s guitarist Johnny Took to chat about their new album, tour life, and what makes UK audiences ‘fucking psycho’.
Since their 2014 debut EP titled Delete, Aussie band DMA’S has been gathering a cult following all over the world. The band is comprised of Tommy O’Dell, Matt Mason and Johnny Took. It’s safe to say a significant chunk of that fanbase comes from the UK. 65,000+ tickets were sold on their last UK tour, including a sold-out show at London’s beloved Ally Pally.
Fast forward to 2023 and the band has just released their fourth studio album How Many Dreams.
Decorated with Brit-pop-esque tracks like Get Ravey, riff-heavy Olympia and Fading Like A Picture. As well as synth-infused Everybody’s Saying Thursdays The Weekend, the album is an optimistic post-pandemic celebration. We anticipate it could become the soundtrack to the British summer.
The journey to completing the album wasn’t one without challenges however. The band labelled it as the toughest one to make yet.
Recording started back in 2021 when the trio headed to London. Back on UK soil, they reunited with Stuart Price, who worked on previous album The Glow. They also added Rich Costey into the mix. They set out to make a record reminiscent of the experimental genre pivot of The Glow, but mixed in with elements true to OG DMA’s.
“We kind of wanted to make a glimpse of something new, but also just have a blend of elements of our career which have been quintessentially DMA’s and I guess intertwine them into one record” says Took.
The UK recording sessions quickly became tightened by COVID restrictions, eventually forcing the band to return to Aus. They then finished off the album with Konstantin Kersting in their hometown Sydney. The silver lining of having unexpected time and travel restrictions on their hands was the band’s ability to get stuck in and have a really good play around with the tracks.
Took says, “over COVID, we kind of got to spend a bit more time and muck around with the elements like sampling, synthesizers, incorporating rock music with dirty guitars and loops. Stuff like that. It was like we learned a lot from Stuart on The Glow, but now on How Many Dreams we’ve been able to incorporate it into something that’s more uniquely DMA’s, you know, it’s come from us.”
Now, COVID-restriction free, the band gets to see how their audience connects with their latest album. This is something that, for Took, is a highlight of tour life ‘The highs are definitely being able to see the response to the new tracks, and the old tracks, but particularly the new tracks live. Because it means your music is still connecting with people. “
“Don’t get me wrong, touring is hard, but it’s super rewarding when you get to play those new songs and you go, this is why I fucking do it. You know what I mean?’’
With a grand total of 23 UK shows, the tour is a pick n mix of performances made up of headline gigs, stripped-backed record-store shows, and festival stints. Kicking everything off is one of their more intimate acoustic-style gigs at iconic Liverpool Venue The Cavern Club, which Took said will be “awesome”.
“They’re always pretty interesting these acoustic shows we do. We can barely even hear ourselves on stage and it’s normally just people passionately screaming at us, which we love. It’s really nice to be able to connect with the fans like that in a more intimate space. Especially if you’ve made an album that’s more highly produced. It’s good to hear them in that acoustic setting. I think people really love that and just hearing the song for the song, you know?’
When it comes to UK audiences and what sets us apart from any others, Took put it gloriously. “They’re pretty fucking psycho” to which he quickly added “in the best way possible.”
“Music is so entrenched in [UK] culture, you know. From the Beatles, the Stones, Queen, Oasis, Stone Roses, Primal Scream and The Jesus and Mary Chain. You guys just have such a rich history of music and you’ve paved the way for a lot of the pop world in that regard. I think that that’s just passed down through generations and generations. That’s why you guys are so erratic live and you’re so passionate and I think it’s beautiful.”
With multiple UK tours under his belt, and having lived in Edinburgh for 10 months, we couldn’t finish our chat without talking about UK food. Turns out that it’s deep-fried haggis that brings back nostalgic memories and holds the number one spot on his list of UK food favourites. “I remember my wife and I were rushing for the last train out of Glasgow to get back to Edinburgh. We were super drunk and we were running [around] trying to not spill our deep-fried haggis with curry sauce and chips. And I remember getting on the train with her, eating that just going this is the best fucking meal I’ve had in my life.”
Now that tour mode is officially back on, the band’s focus will move away from writing. But Took promises to keep making things interesting for fans when it comes to future releases. “I think every album is just a little snapshot of just where you’re at. And we always like to try different things. We don’t know where the next album’s going to go but I’m feeling like it’ll probably be something different. We like to keep our fans on their toes.”