"It Meant So Much!" DMA'S On Winning Over The UK

"It Meant So Much!" DMA'S On Winning Over The UK

Australian band look back on their packed out Brixton Academy show...

As if often the case with musical trends and era’s, Britpop became in many ways its own worst enemy, consuming itself like an after-dinner mint. In the words of John Niven: “During the boom of Britpop, the last great gold rush of the music industry. I saw incredible greed and terrible behaviour. I was greedy and terribly behaved.” The vast swath of insincere commercialism that took over Britpop slowly saw gluttony and narcissism steer the ship wayward, of a cultural movement gone wrong, with the music being very much put to the back seat.

It was widely accepted that one of the most memorable movements of its decade had died its death, with many becoming accustomed to their rose-tinted goggles of the 90s. Then along came the DMA’S, a much-needed injection of the delightfully pungent lyrics, cool clobber, and effortless stage presence that resembled the sound and attitude that saw the movement gain its reputation back in the 90s.

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There is a distinct sense of irony that a movement emphasised by Britishness and cool Britannia has been so poignantly reimagined by a band across the pond. However, the bands humble demeanour pushes the bullshit to the side and the music to the forefront, their trademark sound and blistering shows have seen them cement their place as a mainstay in the British music scene.

As swift as their rise as a band has been, they’ve taken their time to establish their sound. Their blossoming discography feels like a collection in the works- stepping stones, documenting their wonderful journey so far. Before the global pandemic hit and the joys of live music ground to a halt, on March 6th 2020, DMA’S played the biggest headline show of their career to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Brixton. The show was recorded on the night and is being released as a vinyl album. We spoke to Johnny Took (Guitarist) about his memories of the night, his love of Orbital and his hopes for the future.

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Listening to the newly released album only serves to feed a rallying war cry that we will one day be able to see live music. The O2 Academy Brixton show was immediately hailed as one of the highlights of the band’s career so far, Johnny says “it was honestly one of the best shows man... we’re not from the UK and it is really insane for us to see so many people come and see the show. We’d obviously toured hard, but we couldn’t believe it. To win over a London crowd meant so much.”. Whilst being 10,000 miles away from Sydney, the gig seemed very much like a homecoming show, one that shone a light on the indelible mark the band have made in the UK.

“We were always intrigued in getting over there, there wasn’t a lot of Australian bands hinting on a British sound. We just loved that era of Britpop, we never hid away from it and very much wanted to be part of that scene. The first time we came over was courtesy of Liam Fray from the Courteeners who heard ‘Delete’, he asked us to support him.” Brixton Academy plays a special part in the bands journey, it was where they first played in the UK when they were making early ushering’s as a band emerging in the UK music scene. It’s truly remarkable just how far the band have gone in the past few years and their setlist tells the tale, shining a light on their already immense discography; from the anthemic heights of 'Dawning' to the beautifully broody 'Delete'.

Amongst a multitude of questions and side-track conversations, the chat always harps back to just how special the Brixton show was. Despite the crippling impact of last year, Johnny is reluctant to show any bitterness, never touching on what could have been, instead finding solace in appreciating what was. “We’re so lucky the show was filmed and recorded. This album is giving people a taste of what our live performances are like. We purposefully had a mic on the crowd up in the mix in the recording. We really want people to get excited again, hopefully we can get back to it sooner rather than later.”

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The night celebrates a great depth of the music the band have written since their inception, from early favourites ‘In The Air’ and ‘Lay Down’, to new material such as ‘Silver’ and ‘Life Is A Game Of Changing’. The blistering vocals making way for crashing riffs and flowing rhythm takes the heart of fans new and old, propelling them into a fury of bouncing guitar, crashing drums and slurring harmonies.

A global pandemic hasn’t slowed the prolific output of the band, who are working on more music than ever before. “I’ve been trying to combine the energy you get from an uptempo dance music concept, 130bpm style, mixed in with the noisy guitars. I’m finding myself getting more into the sampling world, incorporating more synthesisers. Have I guess the main influences at the moment would be Orbital, the Chemical Brothers and Underworld”.

Whilst the DMA’S seem like the busiest band on earth, they have been appreciating things being a bit quieter this year. Johnny says “It’s been nice to stop; we don’t usually get to spend a lot of time to spend at home. I’m finding it super creative and nice to spend a bit more time to spend time with my friends and family and my partner.”

Things will only get busier for the band, who seem to get significantly bigger every time they return to the UK. Whilst it is incredibly exciting to see what they have lined up next, it is also important to listen to the album and enjoy what has come before. This album marks another chapter in what has been a truly remarkable journey.

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'DMA's Live At Brixton' is out now.

Words: Josh Crowe

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