“London, Sydney, LA”- An Interview with DMA’s Matt Mason

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DMA’s are a three-piece indie-rock group hailing from Sydney in Australia. The band, who formed in 2012, are releasing their exciting new album The Glow (2020) on July 10th. I sat down virtually with DMA’s guitarist Matt Mason to discuss the band’s new experimental album, touring across the globe and life in lockdown.

As you’re currently in Australia, it’d be interesting to know what life is like over there as we’re still in lockdown here in the UK.

We’ve been doing good thanks. It’s crazy as everything is literally like normal over here, bars are open and everything. I’m above a pub right now and it’s full. I think it’s probably easier to keep things more under control down here, being so far away from everyone else and being quite isolated. You guys are in the middle of Europe so that must’ve been pretty tough to keep it under control!

So I listened to your album yesterday as I got the early release which was very exciting for me. Starting at perhaps the basics – what does the title of your upcoming album The Glow mean?

It’s not the most exciting answer, to be honest, *laughs* but when you’re dealing with three people like we have in our band it’s hard to make everybody happy. Every time we’ve come to decide on an album title none of us can really agree. With this we were going back and forth for months and months, but as we couldn’t agree our manager suggested we title the album The Glow as it’s a title of one of the tracks so it seemed to summarise the album clearly.

Could you perhaps talk a bit about the creative process behind the journey of making The Glow? What way do you normally go about creating an album as a band?

We’ll usually start out by writing a little 30-second verse that is basically a snippet of an idea for a song or melody. Then we’ll save it away for maybe a year, two years, until we write another bit that links to it.

We’ll never really write a song in full – well I won’t really anyway. Sometimes I’ll come up with a thing and be like Johnny. Remember that little idea you had from 3 years ago, and he’ll get it up on his phone that he’s saved and we’ll put them together and boom you’ve got a song. We’ll write some full lyrics to it, do a demo and save it on this big SoundCloud that we all share and work on when we’ve got new, random ideas. It’s probably got like 200 songs on it.

There’s a song on the album called ‘Cocobracane’ that I wrote 13 years ago. But alongside that there’s another one called ‘Criminals’ that I literally wrote like two weeks before we went into the studio.

Speaking of, ‘Criminals’ is probably the most stylistically interesting track on your album. What inspired you to create something so different from your ‘usual’ sound?

I wrote the verse and chorus at like 5 am one night at a party, and everybody loved it. It’s always nice to get more songs that you’ve personally written on an album. We showed it to Stuart Price, our producer who I think has worked with awesome bands like The Killers and Dua Lipa, and he says can I put a little post-chorus part on that to add something more poppy into it. We thought you know, he knows best so we thought it would really benefit us as we want to break out into new genres of music and further our sound.

Having more ‘experimental’ songs such as ‘Criminals’ and ‘Strangers’ on the album, were you scared to see how fans would react to your new style?

I know sometimes fans don’t always respond *too* well to their favourite bands changing from the norm…

Yeah, we were definitely scared. When I run into people on the street sometimes and they say things like ‘what are you doing’ and ‘this new material is too different’ I don’t really care as you can’t please everyone. I think they are happy with our old stuff, the fast guitars and low-fi tunes. But now we’re no longer broke and have more resources to work with, we can actually do what we’ve always wanted to do which is create music that’s our true style.

The fans we’ve had since day one are very important to us. We want to make them happy as we wouldn’t be anywhere without them so we hope they’ll appreciate the newer style and maybe we’ll try and record more stuff that will be more fitting to what they will love in the future – faster guitar riffs and our original style.

What do you think will be your favourite song from The Glow to play live when you can finally get touring again after Coronavirus-related restrictions are lifted?

Either ‘Cobracane’ that I’ve mentioned or ‘Learning Alive’ which we just recently released as a single. It’s a beautiful song and it gives more diversity to the album through the piano and more emotional aspects.

When we do all these acoustic shows it allows Tommy to show off his vocals when the songs are stripped back. It’s exciting to be able to have more songs to play for these occasions especially as songs such as ‘Learning Alive’ as it will be perfect for that! We’re always looking for variety ‘cause we’ve been playing ‘Delete’ and ‘Step Up the Morphine’ millions of times and need a change from those.

How did it feel to have the one and only Liam Gallagher call you biblical? I would honestly be in awe if that was me!

Tommy and Johnny love that world of music so much, but honestly, I didn’t really grow up listening to English music that much so for me it didn’t quite hit the same. Tommy honestly lost his sh*t. At our Brixton Academy show in London, Liam literally stood side of the stage the whole time and we’ve ended up just becoming good friends with him. It’s amazing that Tommy has gone from such a fan to quite literally a friend of one of his idols.

Festivals or gigs?

Well, I don’t really go to festivals anymore as I’m a bit old for that now and did all that when I was younger. When you play a gig you get the whole day to prepare in the venue for it, whereas at a festival the turnaround time is crazy short like you get about 20 mins to soundcheck if that! I’d have to say I prefer gigs as everyone there knows you, likes you and is there to support you. However, festivals do give us the opportunity to get more people to hear our sound who maybe never would otherwise so that’s always a plus.

Who is your biggest inspiration (and I really thought your answer would be Liam Gallagher but it seems not) so who is that one artist that has influenced you throughout your career?

I mean, Liam has definitely inspired me in recent years, but when I was growing up it was always Stephen Malkmus from this American indie-rock band called Pavement. He was always musically awesome and as a person seems so proud of his work.

How would you sum up The Glow in 3 words to encourage people to buy your album?

Oh wow, that’s actually really hard! I’d probably have to say; London (Rak Studios), Sydney (The Grove), and LA (Westlake Studios). Those were the three cities we recorded the album in so I think that sums it up pretty well. The locations really rubbed off on the sonic nature of the songs, and the different people we met along the way and the emotions we felt 100% helped influence our sound… Nailed it!

I’m a film student so I’ll finish this interview off by asking what your favourite film is?

Oh, it’s gotta be Taxi Driver (1976), I swear I’ve watched it more than one hundred times. The soundtrack is just so amazing and as a musician, it’s just so appealing to me!

Thanks so much for doing this interview and *fingers crossed* hopefully see you at your scheduled tour in the Southampton, UK very soon!

No worries, thanks for having me. Hopefully! Playing shows in the UK is awesome as people always go mental, you all go so hard and the first time we were literally so scared when we played. Our mates in another band were like, have you ever played in Glasgow ‘cause they literally go for it.

It’s amazing to play in the UK though and we can’t wait till we can play again! It’s so different to here, as in Australia everyone just arrives for the main act and the support barely gets anyone watching them whereas where you literally queue outside for hours so we always get like an almost full crowd watching us which is awesome!

DMA’s third studio album, The Glow, is set to be released on the 10th July via I OH YOU.

Check out the video for their latest single, ‘Life is a Game of Changing’, below. 

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third-year film student & records/live exec 20/21

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