Despite lockdown pausing the music world this year everyone’s favourite Aussie trio DMA’S have been busy as ever releasing their electric third studio album ‘The Glow’ and performing a series of socially distanced gigs in Australia.
I managed to catch up with frontman Tommy O’Dell for a chat about the album, what it was like touring with Liam Gallagher and their plans for the future.
EE: Hey Tommy! How are you doing today? How has lockdown been treating you?
TO: “Good thanks! I’m in Sydney now so things have eased off quite a lot. But yeah, it was pretty tough there for a while but now things are looking a lot better. I guess just like everyone we’re trying to make the best out of a pretty bad situation.”
EE: That’s good to hear. First off, I wanted to congratulate you on the album. How did it feel to reach no.1 in Scotland?
TO: “That was great. I was very surprised to be honest, I wasn’t expecting that but we’ve been going to Scotland and touring since we first started, and our fans in Scotland mean so much to us. It was a really nice feeling.”
EE: ‘The Glow’ sees you really exploring your influences and experimenting more with electronic music and synthesisers which really sets it apart from other albums; will the next record push that sound on further or will you head back into your rock n roll roots?
TO: “We’re not sure. I think we’ll keep pushing it a bit, but we’ll always have rock n roll songs on our records. Even if it’s a few we’ll never completely forget our guitar roots. We’re really enjoying what we’re doing at the moment so yeah, we’ll see where the next album takes us. Some of the newer songs we’ve been writing recently are definitely pushing on from songs like ‘Life Is A Game Of Changing’ and ‘Cobracaine’ and stuff like that but we’ll never forget our love for guitars and rock n roll.”
EE: What’s the significance of ‘The Glow’? Why is it the title track of the album?
TO: “Well it was written quite a long time ago, and Johnny and I when we first kind of got together as a band, we wrote it and it sat dormant for a few years. We knew that it was a special song and it just needed that extra part or just something more. So, we brought it to Stuart Price and worked on a new part and it just came to life. I think the imagery of the song really encapsulates what we wanted the album to be and it’s one of the more rock n roll songs on the record so, you know it’s kind of paying respect to our old kind of roots as well.”
EE: So, you recorded ‘The Glow’ overseas in America, what was that like? What made you want to work with a producer on ‘The Glow’?
TO: “It was great. He’s done some awesome stuff and we wanted to work with someone who has had experience working with that kind of music; bands like New Order, The Killers and Pet Shop Boys and stuff. It felt like the right fit sonically and then when we got together and first met each other and stuff he was just such a great guy. Working with him felt really natural and easy. I’d definitely like to work with him again for sure.”
EE: What was the recording process like for the album? Was it any different to the first two?
TO: “The fact that we recorded overseas was different but we set up the studio kind of like it was our lounge room to be honest. We all recorded next to each other and had a coffee table and couches around so we tried to recreate our home studio in another expensive studio just to keep the vibe going and stuff so the actual process was quite similar we just had way more expensive equipment.”
EE: So, ‘The Glow’ was written a few years ago, are most of the songs off the album older?
TO: “Yeah well the album is quite a mix actually. We often have a collection of songs and if they don’t make an album, we don’t get rid of them or anything we just keep them there. A song like ‘Silver’ was kind of written around the first record and it just wasn’t ready to release at that time so we reworked it. So yeah it’s a bit of a mixture, ‘Criminals’ is a brand new song, ‘Appointment’ is a brand new song, so is ‘Learning Alive’. ‘Cobracaine’ and ‘Strangers are quite old as well.”
EE: What is your personal favourite song from the new album and why?
TO: “That’s a tough question. It changes and I go through stages. I was really enjoying ‘Learning Alive’ because I think it really suited lockdown and it felt quite fitting for everything that was going on. It was a real favourite for me at one point but I think now I’m kind of enjoying ‘Cobracaine’ so it changes. I like all the songs on the album and I’ll probably have another favourite next month.”
EE: So last month you brought live music back to Sydney with a series of socially distanced gigs. How did it feel being back on stage and playing to fans again?
TO: “It was great. So, we played like a stripped back kind of thing like we played for MTV unplugged. It was really cool; the venue did a really good job and you could get drinks brought to your table. It looked really good and the venue didn’t feel awkward at all it was great. Because we stripped our set back and played accordingly to the venue it was really good and I’d like to do that kind of tour again. All of our music is written in that stripped back vibe anyway so it’s nice to kind of take it back to its original form.”
EE: Unfortunately, your headline UK tour this autumn has been postponed to next year. But you’re set to play to 10,000 people at Alexander Palace in London in April, are you excited to be playing such huge venues?
TO: “Yeah, it’s crazy to be honest and it’s been a little bit hard to get out heads around actually touring overseas but our gigs are there and we’re planning on being there in April. I guess it gives us something to look forward to and a goal to reach. But yeah, the Liverpool arena and Alexander Palace and stuff, I never thought we’d be playing gigs like that, especially over in the UK to be honest.”
EE: Last year you toured the UK with Liam Gallagher, what was that like? Which show was your favourite?
TO: “Manchester definitely. Just to see him perform in his hometown, it was an unbelievable kind of gig just to be a part of. And to play those big venues is also a good opportunity as well for us, some of those rooms were really big. We hadn’t really done rooms like that before, so it’s given us some experience going into these bigger shows next year.”
EE: Did you get to spend much time with Liam?
TO:” A little bit, not much on the tour but he came to our Brixton show and we hung out a bunch. He’s just a really great guy, so down to earth and a lover of music. It was great to just have some beers with him and talk about music and stuff. Lovely dude.”
EE: Okay, I’ve got a burning question for you on behalf of fellow Scottish fans; will you still be supporting Gerry Cinnamon at Hamden Park in July? And do you plan to play any more Scottish dates in the future?
TO: “I think so… I hope so! I don’t know I don’t see why not. I haven’t heard otherwise but its been hard to keep track of what’s going on now with everything that’s going on but yeah, I think so. And yeah, we are planning more Scottish dates. They’ll come after that April tour; we definitely haven’t forgotten about you guys!”
EE: That’s good to hear! Okay I’ve got a few unrelated questions for you now to finish off. What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?
TO: “It has to be Oasis at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney just down the road from me. I was probably only about 14 and it was the Heathen Chemistry tour, I think. It was brilliant and it only held like 1200 people, so it was very memorable.”
EE: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
TO: “That’s a tough one. I guess just be yourself and don’t sway for anyone and most of all just enjoy what you’re doing and be honest. Someone very special taught me that.”
EE: What’s next for DMA’S?
TO: “Now we’re working on the next album I guess it means constantly writing and getting prepared for this tour. We’re just sort of taking every month as it comes and whenever the world gets back to normal we’ll be ready and firing to go, and hopefully have some new music too!”
20 year old film and media student from South-West Scotland living in Edinburgh. Lover of all things gigs and music.