They’re Australian, for a start. And about 20 years too late. But, in defiance of space and time, DMA’s are leading a Britpop revival. Their thoughtful lyrics, clever melodies and low-key look have evoked memories of era-defining artists like Oasis and The Charlatans.
Ahead of their sold-out show at Rock City, I asked guitarist Jonny Took whether the ‘90s comparisons are the ultimate compliment to an emerging indie trio, or if they run the risk of pigeon-holing the group.
“I don’t really mind either way”, he says. “We just like writing cool, catchy pop songs, honest lyrics and noisy-ass guitars.”
“But that’s a thing humans like to do, you know, compare. It’s a way that people that people relate. People will compare f***ing cups of coffee.”
Where DMA’s differ from Britpop’s ‘big four’, Took argues, is that he and fellow guitarist Matt Mason come from a bluegrass, country music background. Its influence is evident in songs like ‘Step Up The Morphine’. Coupled with Mason’s fuzzy guitar tone, it is enough to ensure that the band is more than a tribute act.
Just a few hours before I sat down with them, the band’s second album was released. For Now is the follow-up to 2016’s Hill’s End, a commercial and critical success.
For all the talk of ‘the difficult second album’, Took tells me that producing For Now was, in fact, the easier process of the two. “Releasing a song like ‘Delete’ is hard because no one’s really heard you before,” he says, “but once people have heard music from you, you can release songs like ‘In The Air’ and slower songs; people want to hear stuff.”
“Without support on the airwaves, the band has largely relied on word-of-mouth as a means of publicity”
‘Delete’, the 2015 single off Hills End, highlights the challenges facing DMA’s and bands like them. It was comfortably one of the best songs released that year, but received relatively little coverage on mainstream radio.
“It is what it is. I’d prefer to build a fanbase of loyal, passionate fans, than have one song go f***ing ballistic on radio, and then people come to your gig just to hear one song.”
Without support on the airwaves, the band has largely relied on word-of-mouth as a means of publicity. This is not lost on Took, who believes, “the way that the band has grown over the past couple of years, and the way that it is still are growing, feels really organic.”
Their ‘organic’ growth has brought them to the attention of Britpop-icon Liam Gallagher, who earlier this month gave For Now his ultimate seal of approval, tweeting that it is: “BIBLICAL”.
Just heard the new DMA'S record 1 world BIBLICAL as you were LG x
— Liam Gallagher (@liamgallagher) April 19, 2018
Took rarely uses Twitter – “it isn’t really a thing in Australia,” he says – but discovered the tweet almost instantly. “My phone went crazy. It’s always nice to get to get the thumbs up from your peers; other musicians, the ones you respect. So we were really humbled and inspired by it.”
“There’s been a couple of ones where the stage has been rushed, and one where the stage manager fainted and stuff. That got pretty weird.”
Later this year, the trio will support Gallagher at his 40,000-capacity gig in Finsbury Park. “We’re so excited,” he guitarist enthuses, “it will be our largest ever date.”
At this point, I float the idea that, should Oasis ever reform, DMA’s be put on the bill. “I hope so. That would be like a dream come true, man. And I reckon we could bring a pretty good show to the table.”
If their recent shows are anything to go by, Took’s claim is not without merit. “We play the tunes and put on a f***king good live show,” he grins. “There’s been a couple of ones where the stage has been rushed, and one where the stage manager fainted and stuff. That got pretty weird.”
But after the euphoria and chaos of their live shows, how do the trio relax? The answer: daytime T.V. “The Jeremy Kyle Show’s pretty good, you know. Antiques Roadshow, is it?” I nod, somewhat taken aback. “I don’t think it’s that I love the shows that much, I think it’s more that you’re not working, not doing anything, just hanging out in your hotel.
“I heard there is a good one where people have to pretend like they’re running away from the cops or something.” “‘Hunted?”, I suggest. “Yeah, Hunted, yeah! I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ll have to.”
With a sixteen-date tour of the U.K. underway and a festival season still to come, DMA’s will have plenty of time to further explore the wonders of British television. One can only imagine what they will stumble upon next.
DMA’s second album, ‘For Now’, is out now.
Featured image courtesy of DMA’s.