There’s a certain freedom that comes with recording a third album. Gone are the expectations and pressures of the sophomore blues, instead replaced by the chance to push the limits of creativity as far as you dare. As DMA’s prepare to release their third studio album, The Glow, it’s an opportunity guitarist Johnny Took is well aware of.
“I feel like there were so many elements that we’ve incorporated into this album that we’ve always wanted to be a part of DMA’s,” he says. “It’s a pop album, let’s be honest, which we’re happy about because we love writing and making pop music. But it’s like, let’s make a bloody rave tune or let’s start sampling vocals and just do shit that we wouldn’t normally do with DMA’s, and if it sticks, it sticks.”
Following the success of Hills End and For Now, DMA’s knew their third release was a chance to experiment further and push the boundaries of what was becoming their signature sound. This inevitably led to the one thing that is inescapable for any serious musician: new gear.
“On the record, one thing I really loved was getting into mucking around and learning a bit more about electronic production. Everyone in the band’s got an Eventide H9, pretty much. I love those multi-effects. I haven’t got around to buying one for the studio yet. It’s on the list when we’ve got a bit of extra change. It takes time. I spent fucking years and tens of thousands of dollars on guitar pedals, now I use about six,” he laughs.
The road to The Glow has seen DMA’s earn support from punters and critics alike, but while many of us do our part to support Australian music, the powers that be have been known to provide a hinderance in the form of Sydney’s infamous lockout laws. The detrimental effect on the city’s live music scene continues to be unravelled but for the time being, things appear to be looking up. The proposed leniency for the lockout laws is something Took is quick to support.
“I’m glad that the idiots up top have fucking realised how much the city was dying because of those decisions,” he says. “But the problem is that the damage has already been done. So many different people within the industry have been already hurt by it … Maybe now it’s time for Sydney to heal.
“But the thing is as well is there was a real camaraderie in Sydney because of it. We see it all the time in times of desperation, however big or small, people draw together. It made people in Sydney have to be a bit more creative with what they were going to do and how they were going to release music or play music. We were a bit fed up with Sydney so we were like, fuck it, we’re just going to stay in our bedrooms in our apartments for two years and just write.”
Eight years on, DMA’s are preparing for the next chapter. It’s undeniable that The Glow has presented a unique opportunity for creative freedom, and it’s resulted in a record that takes things up a notch. Took admits that he hasn’t heard this level of excitement from the press since the ‘Delete’ era, and it’s a feeling that bodes well for DMA’s future.
“I feel like this last record has really opened up a lot of the doors for us. I think it will un-pigeonhole us. If we still want to be the noisy Britpop revivalists, we can, but maybe if we want to be the rave-y kind or the pop ballad thing, we can. I feel like there’s no limitation now.”