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He has a few thoughts. (6/23a)
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The musical tapestry we know as R&B.
Predicting the next big catalog deal.
Once we all get vaccinated, how long before we can party?
How is globalization bringing far-flung territories into the musical mainstream?

Indio's (probably Molly-riddled) dust has officially settled, although it did leave a nasty layer caked onto my lungs. Now that members of the music community are finally free of their hangovers—or at least their Coachella-related ones—it only seemed right to revisit the revelry; my chances of readers actually being able to read has been upped by at least 75% percent by now, after all.

That being said, please feast your eyes on a beloved interview with Johnny Took, guitarist of the pop-inspired alt/rockers that make up DMA's. The band, signed to indie standout Mom+Pop, recently released one of this writer's favorite new records of the year, Hills End. It's rare that I get that "feeling" when finding a new band, but DMA's, who've been drawing more than a few comparisons to '90s staple Oasis since hitting the scene, certainly come through with just that.

It's a record for long drives, a record for watching the world go by, for nursing a splintered heart and for filling a recently healed one. Hills End is inviting, and evokes feelings similar to the simple magic that comes from a friendly hand placed on a slumped shoulder on a shit day. It's courageous in its innocence and vulnerability, and the lack of ostentation is refreshing, while the passion that drove its creation is nearly palpable.

Before diving in, check out the video for "Delete"; it's my jam. And as singer Tommy O'Dell urges, "just let it all out."

Oh, and keep an ear out for single "Too Soon," coming to a radio near you. That body-shaker's earned early love/support from the likes of SiriusXM's Alt Nation and WWCD, and has got sights set on a chart debut.

Samantha Hissong

How is your weekend going so far, and how did it feel playing that stage?
The weekend’s been cool so far, despite that I haven’t really been able to walk out and see the festival. We’re at the end of our American tour at the moment, so we’ve had a few gigs under our belt. We’ve kinda brought on the sound guy as well, who’s from New York, and if you can play 20-30 shows, and with someone like that as well, you feel comfortable up there. The response was cool. It’s all good.

That definitely makes it very tight.
Yea, and you know what? The thing is that when we were playing, I wasn’t really thinking, “Oh, we’re playing Coachella.” For the first time as a musician, I feel like it’s kind of surpassed that. I get more nervous playing smaller gigs, because you can actually see their faces. It’s almost like intimate on a level that makes it vulnerable.

How important is playing festivals to you, and what benefit do they provide, as opposed to playing smaller shows?
I mean, to be completely honest, I reckon half the benefit of the festival is just getting on the bloody poster… like actually. Obviously, that doesn’t reflect the experience. For the band’s sake, that’s obviously a huge part of it.

And to be honest, I’ve been disappointed. We’ve played a fair few festivals over the last 12 months, and some amazing festivals, but it’s very brief. We’ve been announced on festival lineups. And you know when you go, “Oh my god, I’m gonna see this person play!” And it doesn’t really happen… like you kind of go in and out. That’s a disappointment of it, but at the same time, we don’t get festivals like this back in Australia, and it’s really hard for festivals in Australia to get lineups of the caliber that you get in the States, just ‘cause it costs so much to get people over and you gotta get people from all around the world, you know?

So it broadens your reach.
Yea, and to be honest, I feel pretty fortunate to play with some of the bands that we have.

I feel like festivals bring a variety of artists, who are all in different chapters of their careers. If you could share the stage with any act for one fantastical fest moment, who would it be and why?
And it doesn’t have to be right now? Anyone involved with The Last Waltz. To play with The Band. Something like that. I kind of grew up on lots of Dylan and The Band, Joni Mitchell, and all of those people who were involved with that concert. It just seemed like a really special thing.

That almost comes through in your record a little bit too, now that I think of it. I mean, obviously, it’s a different genre, but when I was listening to it, it almost sounded like you recorded analog. I wasn’t sure if you did, but it had like a kind of warm quality to it that reminded me of that folky vibe.
Yea, yea, yea. That makes me happy. Thank you.

Pretty much everything we’ve released so far was recorded in my bedroom. We started a bit in the studio in Coogee. I had this dream, where I was like, “oh, yeah, it’s down by the beach. I’ll do a take and I’ll go for a walk, have a swim.” I don’t even like the fucking beach. You know? It wasn’t cool. I prefer to be in the city and have the set up in my apartment; that’s the way we like to record. And yea, I think that’s a big part of it… the fact that we like to record our own music.

To be honest, I think we write pop music, and I love that and I love pop music, and I think that we all, in our different ways, like certain aspects of it, but I like the idea of recording pop music, but recording it yourself, so it sounds kind of shitty. That’s the way we’ve always done it.

What is your favorite song to perform live?
For me, it’s probably “Lay Down.” The recorded version is different than the way we play it live in the sense that it’s a little bit extended, and I actually prefer that. We add extra bits to it.

I almost wish we had recorded the version with the lineup we have now. We were a three-piece when we started, and that’s how we write and do that kind of stuff, but the touring band that we have now is so special; we’ve got Joel Flyger, Thom Crandles on bass and Liam Hoskins on drums. And Thom and Liam were involved with the album. I just really feel like we’re just in our element when we’re doing that.

How are you spending your downtime between the weekends?
We haven’t really had any downtime. It’s kinda fucked. I’m not even the biggest fan of touring. Obviously, coming to festivals, meeting new people and doing all that is amazing, and coming to new places, but I kind of get frustrated and pretty unhappy, actually, when I don’t have time to record; that’s what I do.

I need time. I feel like all of us kind of work like that. That’s like when we started the record in Coogee down by the beach, and it was a 20-minute drive. When we finished, all the best parts of the album were done in a bedroom. Because at 10pm at night, after I’ve had dinner, I’ve smoked joint, had half a bottle of wine and I’m watching whatever, maybe Pulp Fiction, on TV, and halfway through the movie, I wanna go record some music, I can do it! I can do it, and I feel good; there’s that liberty and that freedom. It’s sweet. I might start at 11pm and Mason lives across the road, so we’ll stay up and I’ll finish at like 3 or 4am. And we use that stuff on the album. That’s the way I like record, so I get a bit frustrated. But, at the same time, I also know that this is a part of it.

I really do love this album and I’m really looking forward to people hearing it. And we gotta do this now, so we can afford to have that liberty and that time in the future.

Anything you would like your fans to know in regard to what they can expect from you in the near future?
Just the fact that we were playing in lots of bands before this, and then we were recording a lot as a band before we came over here and before we were playing live at all.

This album is what it is, and we like the vulnerabilities that are in it, but we’re also really excited, because we’ve got so many songs, and we’re excited to experiment a lot production wise, and really, to make a second record that kicks this records ass to be honest.

We took so many aspects of these late mornings—or whenever we recorded anything—and we took those and we put them on the album. Some songs on the album sounded horrible. It wasn’t until I found my old hard drive, got the audio files and just pasted them into the new sessions, and I realized that’s how the song was meant to sound.

So you keep your scraps?
100%, man. That’s the stuff that’s beautiful. That’s the stuff I think connects with people. Like I said, there’s that vulnerability, and I think, when people listen to music, they like to hear it, because it makes it so accessible.