Time and time again, the Sydney-based DMA’S have been compared to the Brit Rock sensation Oasis. But the truth is, this comparison falls shorts of truly encompassing DMA’S uncanny sound and refreshing attitude. After recording a 12-track album exclusively in an apartment, the trio captivated audiences with their simple but undeniably catchy lyrics and massive instrumentals. While the band’s name may not stand for anything, this is symbolic for everything that makes the DMA’S great: their carefree attitude, their unmatched ability to not take themselves too seriously & above else, their focus on making good music. We caught up with Mason to chat before the release of their upcoming album For Now.
To start off, can you tell me a bit about how you guys formed as a band?
Our singer and our acoustic guitarist were the drummer and bass player for a different band, and they felt like their creativity was a little bit silenced. Because no one listens to the drummer. So they started their own band.
What’s the meaning behind your band name?
There isn’t one; it’s kind of just letters.
How did you come up with it?
Our manager did. I don’t really know what he was thinking.
And you guys are from Sydney; how did you break out of Australia?
I don’t really know. We went to SXSW about two years ago, and it didn’t really work out. But we aimed to do the same thing at this giant festival in Brighton called Great Escape, and that’s when they really caught on to it. I think it’s because we’re Australian.
What has the response to your success been like back home?
Everyone’s really happy for us. Australians are known for the Tall Poppy Syndrome; it’s when you get too popular, so people don’t like you anymore. It’s not like they don’t like people who have succeeded. They just really like the underdogs. So when you’re not the underdogs anymore, you lose that. But we still sell more tickets in Australia than most other places.
So do you think you guys are still the underdog?
No. But, we still look poor, and we still have that kind of appearance, so people still like us.
What is the music scene like out there?
It’s pretty all over the place. I’m only speaking to Sydney because that’s mostly where I go out, but all the bands are all very different. There are some really cool tight-knit scenes, but those people generally don’t really see huge audiences.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
It’s all different. For me, it’s more American music. We always get compared to British bands, but I don’t listen to British music. But, I also don’t sing so you can’t really hear it. I listen to bands like Dinosaur Jr. but also a lot of bluegrass and folk.
Is there a big bluegrass scene in Australia?
Yeah dude, we were in a bluegrass band before this. And, there’s a lot of hicks, you know? People with no teeth who haven’t seen other people in like 6 months. That kind of community is around, so there’s definitely an audience for it.
I would never guess that from what you play.
Well, if you take some of our songs, they’re actually written as bluegrass songs. But then the singer comes in, and it sounds completely different. Like our song “Timeless” was written as a bluegrass song with the banjo, but it sounds completely different. Bluegrass has simple chords, so it’s really just the instrumentation and the nasally voice that makes it bluegrass. If you slow it down, it really is quite similar.
Your music does have a lot of British rock and pop undertones — how did you guys get into that?
I think everyone in the band has a British passport except for me because you need a grandparent or parent that was born in England to get one. My family has been in Australia for like more than 100 years, so I don’t have one. But Tommy’s dad is from Liverpool and has that really strong accent, so he’s grown up completely English. Everybody just grew up with it, so they played that kind of music around the house and talked in the accent around the house, too, so that helped.
You guys have been compared to Oasis a lot, too. How do you feel about that comparison?
I don’t like that at all because I don’t listen to them. I get it; I totally get the comparisons because we have a singer who doesn’t play an instrument. It makes sense. But I think if you were to compare the music, I don’t think that we sound like that. There’s musicians out there and in Australia that make music that sounds completely similar to the point where you’re like, “What’re you doing?” But I don’t think we’re like that. There’s a lot of similarities but it’s still different.
I saw Noel Gallagher said he said he was going to boo you at some festival — did he really do that?
No, he didn’t. I think he’s just jealous because we’re cool. No one I know likes his new music, so I don’t really care.
Have you guys ever met him?
I think we have. We’ve met his brother a few times; he’s a fan.
What was touring with the Kooks like?
That was really cool. We’ve never played to crowds that big. We’ve done tours that big opening for other bands, but because we were virtually unknown then people didn’t come out to see us. We met [the Kooks], and they’re great. And they sound really good live, too. It was sick.
What is your favorite gig you’ve played?
We did a show a couple of years ago at a venue with 300 people capacity, and it was Future Islands, Interpol and us. That was really cool because it was a really small venue. The crowd didn’t really know who we were, but it was really fun.
Do you prefer festivals or smaller shows?
I like festivals in Scotland because the crowds there are really cool and insane. They bring flares, and it doesn’t matter if it’s raining — they come out. Australian festivals are always way too hot, and the AC is always broken, so they’re just painful. The english ones are pretty cool but not as fun because… I don’t know why.
I like playing club shows in Europe, too. At those we only sell like 300 tickets because we don’t really play too much around Europe. But when we do, people travel from all over to see us. We’ll have people from Lithuania and Poland and stuff, so there’s a really diverse crowd.
How is this second album different than your debut?
It’s different because the first album we recorded completely ourselves. A lot of it was done in an apartment, which people say sounds cool. But to me it sounds pretty bad. This was one was done in a studio by our friend Kim Moyes who’s in this electronic band. It was this big studio with amazing microphones and equipment, so sonically it’s like next level. Song wise it’s not that different. There’s a couple of songs that are a little more electronic sounding because of the producer, but it’s not really that different. We just put a lot more thought into the production. No surprises really.
Cool, well good luck with the album release and all that.
Check out DMA’S latest song “In the Air,” which gives us a preview to what is sure to be an incredible album. Be sure to keep an eye out for its release on April 27th.