Two years after the release of their EP and countless shows later, DMA’s have released their debut album, Hills End. “It’s made a big difference for us after touring for nearly two years on the back of like five songs” says Took. “It’s nice being able to make a set list and know that people are going to recognise a certain amount of songs”. As expected, the laid-back lads make no attempt to entice their listeners and instead, adopt a take-it-or-leave-it kind of attitude. “The songs are all very honest and very real,” he reveals. “If you like it and connect to it, then that’s mad. We hope you do. If you don’t, go listen to something else”.
Those that remain will soon be met with a couple of DMA’s earlier works. From the depths of ‘Delete’ and the power of ‘Play It Out’, the record pays homage to their initial release. “We thought it was important for two of our earlier tunes to be on the album,” Took explains. “Even though we’ve done fine in Sydney, we also felt like more people needed to hear these songs and that they could be given another chance. We didn’t want them to go under the radar and become a nothing song”.
In addition, Hills End also features ‘So We Know’, previously released as a 7”. “We re-recorded it and added drums,” says Took. “We recorded it while we were in London, which was a great experience”. Recording the remainder of the record between a garage studio space and Took’s bedroom, the boys seem relatively unaffected by their recent success. “We did the bones of the record in Coogee, drums, bass and rhythm guitars,” he discloses. “Pretty much all the creative stuff, most of the electrics and the vocals were all recorded in the apartment. If you heard the original takes that we tried to do in the studio, it just didn’t really feel like us and we didn’t feel comfortable. The sound of that room is a big part of the DMA’s sound.”
Swiftly heading back to the UK and the US, DMA’s discussed the various challenges associated with schedules, writing and recording when out on the road. “We don’t argue but there’s a lot of early starts and we are exhausted a lot of the time”, reveals Mason. “The truth is, after you’ve been in a car for six hours and then set up for a gig, you just kind of feel like eating or having a beer, you don’t really feel like writing”, adds Took.However, through the use of a homemade demo-recording device, the lads are set to record on the road like never before. “We’ve set up pretty much a recording studio in a briefcase, so Mason and I are going to try to get into the habit of demoing properly,” says Took. “I want all the stuff we record on the new demos to be at a high enough quality so that we could potentially use them on the second record,” he explains. “That’s how you get the cool and creative stuff, when you’re not thinking of making records, you’re thinking of sounds.”
Pushing the experimental boundaries, Hills End sees the DMA’s arrangements diversifying like never before. The use of unconventional instruments is evident on many of their tracks. The record features a Dobra, Mandolin and the allusive addition of a Guzheng. “It’s like a Chinese piano,” Mason explains. “I bought it from an antique shop years ago, we tuned it up and I played it in one of the songs (‘In The Moment’). I recorded about twenty takes and then cut them up to make a little melody.” While the guys won’t bring all of these elements to the stage, Mason ensures that “you can emulate the sounds with a guitar”.
As open-minded as ever, the boys themselves don’t know what’s to come for the DMA’s sound. “I think we are still working it out,” Took admits. “It’s going to depend on what we are into, but I think we are pretty excited to push it as far as possible and experiment as much as possible”. Agreeing with his band mate, Mason states, “We will probably just wait and see what other songs we write in the next ten months or so.”
With a potential move on the horizon, Took reveals that while, “Sydney will always be home… we’ve thought about somewhere like L.A, where we can get a decent size house and build the studio that we want to build. I think we are going to keep (producing) ourselves, but with no mattresses in the room.”