In The Middle with DMA’s

If you’re a fan of DMA’s, or have been following them for a while, it’s unlikely that you’ve been able to read much about them without seeing the names Oasis, The Stone Roses, or Primal Scream following swiftly afterwards. These persistent comparisons, whilst impressive, must undoubtedly become tedious for a relatively new band attempting to establish themselves in possibly the most difficult industry to do so. It is this reason that I was interested as to whether the Sydney three-piece (composed of Matt Mason, Tommy O’Dell and Johnny Took) actually identify as a ‘Britpop’ group. Lead vocalist and drummer Tommy O’Dell explains that “In many ways, yeah. But there are also elements of our music which fit into other genres such as Country and Bluegrass.” These elements of the group’s tracks, whilst perhaps slightly overlooked, are part of what makes them such an originative ensemble.

It’s definitely evident throughout their discography (so far they have released two complete albums, Hill’s End, and For Now) that there’s a wide variety of musical influences contributing to the writing of pretty much all the music that they’ve released. Since they’ve already stated that their tastes in genre differ quite remarkably, I was intrigued as to whether this has ever become a point of contention when developing music. O’Dell’s lighthearted response “Haha, sometimes yeah. But it’s good to have differing opinions occasionally because it pushed you to come up with different ideas”, not only speaks of closeness of the three-piece as a unit, but of their refreshing drive to be ever-evolving, musically.

Following on from the theme of “better ideas”and evolvement, when asked about their main goals as a band, O’Dell reveals that the “goal is to continue to write good music and play the biggest shows we can, and always be proud of our band. We’d like to headline Brixton Academy”- an aspiration that definitely doesn’t feel too far off for a group with an energy that feels on the cusp of something rather wonderful. As a self-proclaimed loyal fan of DMA’s, a slightly selfish part of me was also eager to be given any sort of indication of new music on the horizon. I was therefore delighted to learn that a third album is “more than half written”- something I’ll definitely be looking forward to.

The question of new music inevitably leads on to the query of how it might differ to what has previously been released. Learning that they “want a strong emphasis on rhythm and beats and [to] maybe experiment with a more minimalist approach to instrumentation”, was certainly a point of interest. It sounds as if DMA’s new music will differ rather drastically to the band’s broad use of dreamy instrumentation in their second album. The use of drum machines in For Now suggest that perhaps rhythm is an area that the group are particularly interested in developing. O’Dell also explains that these developments are going “to sonically build from songs like ‘Time & Money’ and ‘Do I Need You Now?, both of which are from their second album, and both of which are, serendipitously, their favourite tracks to play to a live audience.

The band’s fanbase are largely located in the UK and Australia (with 45,245 Spotify listeners in London, and 41,474 in Melbourne, as of the first week of November 2018). When asked whether these audiences differ, the response was that “They’re very similar but maybe UK fans are a little more passionate”, I guess this makes up for the most recent Ashes series then? So many changes for these musicians have taken place in a relatively short space of time- O’Dell, for example, was a painter and decorator for around ten years, and is now part of a group that has reached number 6 on Triple J Hottest 100 (the coveted annual Australian listener poll). I was therefore keen to know if they envisage any main-elements of their songwriting changing in the future. The response was “Potentially”, followed by the explanation that “an album is just a representation of where you are at musically and emotionally at a particular time”, illustrating that one thing the group are not envisaging, is any sign of slowing down.

Finally, I’ve always been impressed with the rapid speed at which DMA’s have acquired themselves a dedicated fanbase, as well as establishing such an impressive discography, and so was eager to hear any advice they might have to aspiring music groups/artists. O’Dell’s recommendation- “Don’t stop writing music, especially at the beginning of your journey when you’re feeling inspired. If you have the songs there, you always be able to release music and tour.” These words truly reflect not only the clear drive that the group have, but also their natural musicality, and the ability to turn inspiration into nostalgic yet raw music that I highly recommend you give a listen if you haven’t already.

Charlotte Bresh

Images Courtesy of Ian Cheek Press