Riding off the wave of their overwhelmingly successful self-titled EP, alternative rock group DMA’s are back in 2016, ready to finally release their highly anticipated debut LP released today, Hills End.
Lately, the Sydney based trio have been spending most of their time touring the world, returning back home for Laneway and their album release. “Brisbane was nuts! Sydney was sick. It’s been really good,” guitarist and (sometimes) vocalist Matt Mason tells me about the festival shows.
The youthful, laid back lads are perhaps best known for their breakout track, ‘Delete’; an expertly crafted power ballad that’s brilliantly addictive. More recently, the group has released two singles from Hills End, ‘Lay Down’ and ‘Too Soon.’ Being able to finally begin performing these brand new songs for fans is a relief, Mason explains.“We were touring that EP for like, 2 years, and it was just getting heavy. We finished the record like a year ago and didn’t do anything with [the new songs] between then and now.”
Hills End is bigger and more ambitious than before, with each band member contributing their own personal influences and style to the album. Album opener, ‘Timeless’, is one of Mason’s favourites on the album. “It’s really good because I got to play some of the more electric style of guitar that I prefer to.” “A lot of the early stuff – when it was just Tommy and Johnny – they actually kind of had a sound and I didn’t really wanna stray from that too much.” “It’s good to branch out. I’m happy to be able to put some more of my influences in the music.”
When forming DMA’s, there were never real intentions of becoming a touring group, although touring proved an easy feat for the trio, which also includes vocalist Tommy O’Dell and guitarist Johnny Took. “We’ve been playing in bands for so long, so we feel comfortable. When choosing our other [touring] band members, we pick good friends of ours. No one had any arguments; we were constantly having good times.”
While boasting some bold and spectacular new tracks, fans will still hear some familiar tunes on Hills End, with the EP’s ‘Delete’ and ‘Play It Out’, as well as later release ‘So We Know’ all reappearing in remixed versions. “‘So We Know’ was completely… it was the first time we’ve ever recorded with a producer. He was friends with our label head in England. We went to the studio in London and I think it was Tommy’s idea to make it huge at the end. I’m really happy with how it turned out.”
The music of DMA’s tends to be lyrically motivated, and much of their success comes from how relatable their music is. For instance, ‘Delete’ is quite possibly the most modern break-up song ever recorded, allegedly about deleting an ex-girlfriend off social media – MySpace, specifically, as Mason penned the song many years ago in his youth. When I asked him about this, Mason seemed hesitant.
“Yeah, I wish I never said that, ‘cause it’s kind of lame.”
“People fucking go through this a lot, and don’t talk about it ‘cause it’s super lame. When you break up with someone, the last thing you want is to see one of their Instagram posts.”
The dreamy brit-pop vibes of the group haven’t gone unnoticed either, with Oasis being the most common comparison drawn from the press. Again, Mason spoke up about his thoughts on this comparison. “We get that every interview. I get it. Fair enough. It’s just ‘cause Tommy sings in an English accent. If he was singing in an American accent, you wouldn’t get that.”
Despite seeming slightly unhinged, Mason quickly clears things up, “I don’t mind the comparison… people only say Oasis. I’ve got so many other influences.” He listed several artists, including Paul Kelly and Dinosaur Jr., while also speaking of his love for bluegrass music. “’Timeless’ was written as a bluegrass song. We made it a DMA’s song.” Despite the magnitude of influences spread between each member of DMA’s, the group ultimately strives to do their own thing with their music. Mason explains, “we don’t use any reference… we just kind of go along with it.”
I asked Mason about the plans for the band after the album releases and they tour through the USA and Europe. “It’s so far away, we don’t know what’s gonna happen.” He did speculate, however, that he and Took would likely aim to move to America and “finish the second record.” Excitedly, I asked Mason about the status of the next record, to which he responded, “it’s already written.”