Hype can kill a band, particularly after releasing a successful single or two. There are those who use it to thrive, just take someone like Arctic Monkeys, who back in 2005 rode a wave of online exposure, ultimately landing them with the fastest-selling debut album of all time in Britain. However, there are dozens that don’t make the cut, and quickly lose the interest of the music publications and hipster bloggers. Blessing or a curse, there is most definitely a frenzy of expectation surrounding Sydney-born indie rockers DMA’s, a band that has recently been named as part of NME’s own list of artists to look out for in 2016. Here’s what happened when I spoke to the band about their upcoming album, Britpop tendencies and the state of guitar music today.
Having released a string of singles throughout 2015 – all met with a great deal of both commercial and critical success – my first question was aimed at the band’s progress towards their debut album and the pressure to maintain the acclaim received by their early releases. “We have finished recording the record; we are now just in the process of mixing it. We’re a bit early in our career to be feeling pressure at the moment; we’re just happy to be touring overseas and recording our tunes.” And touring they most certainly have been, with the band taking in a plethora of European festivals over the summer, with notable dates including a spot on the Festival Republic Stage at Reading and Leeds Festival, as well as sets at Latitude and Spain’s Benicassim.
This is clearly something they’ve been enjoying, with the band informing me, “We had a blast and the crowds seemed to really enjoy it, and we picked up some fans along the way. That’s what it’s all about at the moment; playing live and building a fan base.” Touring Europe seemed like the key mission for the band over this summer, having already established a strong fan base back in their native Australia. I asked if there were any significant differences in the types of crowds found in two totally different parts of the world, “They’re similar crowds; a good mix of young and old and guys and girls … although in Australia you drive 10 hours for one gig so, yeah, it’s much easier in that sense.”
“a good song is a good song regardless of who it’s played by, what it’s played on or what genre it is”
Decked out in vintage clothing and bucket hats, there is definitely a 90s era Britpop tinge to their sound, with a certain Manchester band that went by the name of Oasis, being the one comparison that has consistently haunted the band. When I asked the guys how they felt about this comparison, the band weren’t particularly nonplussed, casually stating, “yeah cool, I don’t mind when people draw comparisons”. Then again if they were to mirror the level of success that the Gallagher brothers attained, I highly doubt they would mind. But, is this a lazy comparison, yeah they wear the vintage 90s gear and have a certain swagger to their delivery, but I wanted to find out what sort of bands actually inspired them to make music and if they did actually grow up listening to such Britpop greats. “Yeah for sure … I love Stone Roses, Orbital, Oasis, Ride, Primal Scream and My Bloody Valentine to name a few. Mason and Johnny prefer American guitar bands like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr, Queens of the Stone Age, so I guess there’s a mix between all that kind of stuff.”
The rise of the band comes amid a renaissance in the Australian music scene, with the DMA’s rising from a similar scene as Australian dance-punk duo DZ Deathrays. With the likes of Tame Impala, Pond and Courtney Barnett receiving both critical and commercial success on a global scale in recent years, I asked the band whether this is an important time for Australian guitar music and the start of a growing trend? “Sure. I think there are always good bands coming out of Australia and maybe people are paying more attention at the moment? Who knows?” A rather modest response to one of the world’s most thriving musical nations, and a few artists whose success DMA’s will be keen to follow.
The conversation then moved to the current state of guitar music, and the current domination of more electronic music, particularly in the charts. Being a more traditional guitar-oriented band, I asked them for their feelings on the matter. “I like electronic music and I like pop music. I just think a lot of music we are getting exposed to isn’t focusing on what’s important. For me it’s interesting melodies and meaningful lyrics; a good song is a good song regardless of who it’s played by, what it’s played on or what genre it is.”
This idea of ‘meaningful lyrics’ is clearly something DMA’s hold dearly, not just in their own songs but also in the advice that they have to offer to other bands that are trying to make it in today’s musical climate. “Keep writing as many meaningful songs as you can. Music is about songs, so if you have them you’re at least half way there.” And ‘stadium sized’ songs are something that DMA’s are not in short supply of! Expect to hear a lot more from these Aussie rockers in 2016, with the promise of a new album and most likely some more festival performances, this band is going to be everywhere. So if you’re inclined towards a massive chorus, in search for a band with a bit of swagger or waiting for the Gallagher brothers to get back together, then check out DMA’s for some classic Britpop tunes all the way from Down Under.
Featured Image: Earth Boy Press