Harry Ballmann speaks with the DMA’S

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The Waterfront’s Harry Ballmann interviews the DMA’s guitarist Johnny about their new album (Hills End), life on the road and Noel Gallagher.

A little bit about how you guys formed… how did you get into music


I started off in a cover band initially, playing bass. But Tommy came along a few months later, we knew each other from high school though and I thought his voice was absolutely incredible, like nothing I’d ever heard.

DMAs, interesting name, what does it stand for?

It’s almost like a bar code. It doesn’t stand for anything as such, but it feels representative of our music.

What kind of music are you listening at the moment?

A little bit of everything mainly, though specifically, I’d say Raving Nets, Steve Gunn and actually, The Bee Gees!

Did you catch Barry Gibb at Glastonbury then?

Unfortunately not. Our Glastonbury experience was characterised by wellies, are bus stuck in the mud and having to walk quite a way to get food while we waited for somebody to get us out!

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The DMA’s are made up of (l-r) Tommy O’Dell, Matt Mason and Johnny Took

How did you find Glastonbury, did you get to spend much time at the festival?

Again, unfortunately not. It was quite a short notice gig, but one we’d all dreamed of playing so we didn’t get to wander around very much. We just kind of played our gig, and then left again to continue our tour.

Do you prefer to play festivals or your own gigs?

It honestly depends really. I personally prefer festivals, but at the same time I love seeing the development in our shows and the people following the band. To begin with it was really difficult touring, we were playing off the back of an EP so we didn’t have too much to go on. It’s easier now we have our album out. But, what really matters for us is that we’re playing together and we’re playing it right.

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How’s the current tour going, is it a little better, are you enjoying playing the new album?

It’s much better, it’s quite a strange experience to be honest. We were in London due to play at the Garage three days after the album was released. We noticed that people already knew all the words to the more popular songs such as Delete, and that’s when it hit home this is what we love. 

How do you find touring as a whole, the travelling and the inconsistency of it all?

If anything, in every place we go, I try to find as much consistency as I can. Sleeping in a different bed every night does take its toll. I think we played something like 60 shows in three months at the beginning of the year, and even if it’s the small things like eating at the same places or getting to know the corner shop people or whatever. 

There’s quite a lot about your relationship with Noel Gallagher and Brit-pop, is that a coincidence in your music or is that the sound you’re aiming for? 

Okay so this is a common story which has been blown up a little bit, but really, he was taking the P*** out of himself with this. We all really used to enjoy listening to brit-pop so that’s probably where the influence comes from. But yeah, what happened with Noel was we were supposed to be playing a gig in New York that he was headlining or something, and the interviewer asks if he’s ever heard of us because we sounded a lot like Oasis. In true Gallagher fashion he says ‘I’ve never f******g heard of them in my life but if they sound like Oasis I’ll have to boo them off the stage. So it was nothing malicious, but just poking fun at Oasis if anything! I still don’t know if he’s listened to our music!

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Oasis or Blur?

That’s actually a difficult one, like musically I love Oasis and their sound is fantastic. But I also love what Damon Albarn has done with music in general. I do love Blur but I’m also big into The Gorillaz.

Do you have any pre-gig rituals as a band, or you personally?

I wouldn’t say so, we’re not superstitious like that. If im honest though, I will always need the bathroom just before we go on stage and they call us on, no matter how recently I’ve been before!

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Hills End is out now


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