With album number 3 and a sell out headline show at Brixton Academy on the horizon, Gigslutz caught up with DMA’S guitarist Johnny Took to find out what’s in store…
Gigslutz: First up I’d like to talk about the new album, ‘The Glow’, I listened to it last night and it was brilliant. Can you just let some of our readers know what they’ve got in store?
Johnny Took: The album was recorded in Sydney, London and LA, which is cool, it’s the first time we’ve ever done something like that, recorded a record in different parts of the world.
We’re bringing in different sounds to this album, we’re trying to incorporate a few electronic elements to the record. It’s the first record we’ve ever done fully in a big studio, which was different for us, but a lot of fun.
GS: Do you have a favourite track on the album?
JT: Yeah, I was really excited to do ‘Hello Girlfriend’. Which is cool, because that was a demo that Tommy and Nathan had done together, and we joined in with a chorus that I’d written in Edinburgh. I’m really proud of the ones where we’ve kind of all collaborated on them – which is every song!!
But you know, I guess the record has been done a lot like that, there’s been songs that have been ideas that had been sticking around forever and we’ve finally finished those songs, and we’re really proud of it. You can have these song ideas just sitting around for years. I think we did really well with a lot of the tracks on ‘The Glow’ in that regard.
GS: You’re 3 albums in now – how do you find writing songs now compared to when you start. Do they come just as easy?
JT: The three of us are always working on melodies and then showing each other, seeing if they work. I guess we haven’t changed in the fact that. Without being too specific, when you get into writing songs you write about little things around your life that inspire you, which can inspire a song, so I guess we’re always kind of doing that.
It hasn’t really changed in that regard, you know. I think you still use song-writing as that initial concept of just when you’re thinking about stuff and everyday life situations.
GS: You must be one of the hardest working bands going – you’re non stop either on tour on releasing new material. Do you write most stuff on the road?
JT: Yeah, a lot of that collaboration is like, of a voice memo that someone’s made from walking down the street, and another idea that Nathan’s had and an idea that I’ve had. And then because we’ve got that time together, waiting for sound check or just on the road in general, where we do get to show each other those kind of ideas, which is cool. Because you’re right, we are always pretty busy.
GS: Your pretty prolific – an album coming out nearly every year or so. do you feel like you’ll keep that up going forward?
JT: Oh yeah, why not? We’re still young and we’re still writing a lot. We’re kind of getting better at it, you know. We’re getting better at touring and the live show’s coming into its own a lot more. And just in having three records, you can have more peaks and troughs and different styles of songs and the depth, it makes the live show better, you know.
And I guess we’re just more experienced. It’s exciting just even working in the studio, because you can have fun with different aspects of music. So yeah, we’re more inspired than ever and we’re really proud of our output.
GS: Your new single ‘Life’s a changing game’ is something of a new direction with elements of 90s elctro/dance Underworld, New Order, Orbital and The Chemical Brothers. I believe it was your entrance song – how come you ended up putting it on the album?
JT: That’s right, it was our entrance song, yeah. So that’s the middle eight of the song, the breakdown kind of bit; but it was the entrance song, and it was heaps lower, but it was called, “I Don’t Want to Get Lost,” or something like that.
And that was kind of where that song started, then the vocal melody idea that Nathan had which was turned into a guitar line, a synth line, and then I kind of slowed the verses and the choruses and then the name changing.
And that’s so cool how the song has come from an idea that Nathan and I had many years ago, to where it ended up with us and Stewart putting his vibes on it as well was really cool.
GS: Yeah, in terms of those vibes, is that something that you’ve sort of listened to a lot?
JT: Well Tommy’s always been a massive Chemical Brothers fan and Underworld and stuff like that and so am I. And working with Kim on the previous record, he’s obviously from The Presets, you know, and he’s in that dance world, so it just a naturally just after making two kind of mainly guitar-driven records, it’s a natural progression to start mucking around with synthesizers – you see it a lot with bands.
It kind of makes sense, because as an artist you don’t always want to just keep repeating the same thing, because you kind of go crazy.
GS: What else is on the DMA’s jukjebox at the moment? Any Austalian bands for us you can recommend?
JT: I was working on a song on my mate Alex Gow’s project, it’s called The Perfect Moment, which I think they’re about to release some new music soon.
Also my brother’s band, Planet, who are from Sydney, they’ve just released a new single, which is cool. I’ve been doing some song-writing with my partner Hayley and she used to sing in a band, The Jezebels…
GS: I do love your brother’s band, Planet they’re brilliant.
JT: They’re back over in the UK next month. They’re so great.
GS: Moving onto your huge live date this week – you’re headline Brixton Academy. How are you looking forward to that?
JT: Oh, I can’t wait, man. Pretty much our first ever gig in the UK, or in London was the Brixton Academy, when The Courteeners brought us over in about 2014. That was our first ever trip to the UK, six years ago, which is really crazy. It’s nice to be back and playing there.
GS: So what will the setlist look like there? Will it be a mixture of some of the new stuff in with some of the classic stuff?
JT: Yeah, it’s going to be a nice one. We’ll probably play three or four songs off the new record, so we’re not going to go crazy, crazy, because obviously it’s not out yet.
We’ll play all the songs that are out and maybe a couple of other ones. We just want to play a bit of everything, I kind of want to even dig down and grab a couple of tunes off our first EP or something, just because it’s nice to change it up and we don’t play them. There’s some songs that we haven’t played for years, which it would be nice to bring back into the set.
GS: How do you find playing over here in the UK compared to the rest of Europe and the rest of the world. Is it a bit more rowdy than the rest of the world when you’re touring?
JT: Well yeah, if I’m honest. They love their music over here, it’s really powerful and great, and the UK have kind of taken us under their wing and it’s always great coming over here. Some of the best gigs we’ve ever played have been here, you know, it’s cool. Hopefully we can add Brixton to the list.
GS: You’re playing bigger and bigger venues over here now – with Ally Pally next up after Brixton – how big do you think it can go? Do you have ambitions to play the stadiums?
JT: I don’t know. We’ve been coming over here for years, you know, chipping away, without tremendous amounts of radio play. We really made an effort to try lots of different parts of the country. It feels like a really nice organic growth for the band; we have a really solid foundation of fans, so hopefully we can just kind of keep naturally growing in that way and just keep trying to write the best songs we can.
GS: Ace! We’ll be down at the gig at Brixton so we shall see you then, thanks very much for your time.
JT: Awesome. Thank you very much, and enjoy the show.
‘The Glow’ is released on 24th April. Pre order through the the album here https://dmas.lnk.to/storePR