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Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire

‘UK is our musical spiritual home,’ says DMA’s Matt Mason ahead of Aberdeen gig

DMA's new album How Many Dreams? is out on Friday March 31 and the Australian band can't wait to return to Aberdeen reports.
Danica Ollerova
DMA's to play Aberdeen's Music Hall
DMA's to play Aberdeen's Music Hall. Image: Kalpesh Lathigra.

“Even though we’re travelling very far from where we live in Australia, it’s sort of like coming home,” said DMA’s guitarist Matt Mason about the band’s upcoming UK tour which stops at Aberdeen’s Music Hall.

The Sydney-based indie rock band is about to release their fourth studio album How Many Dreams? on Friday March 31, embarking on the UK tour five days later.

And it makes a lot of sense for DMA’s to debut their album in this part of the world.

“A lot of the music that we write is directly inspired by the UK and the Northern Hemisphere in general and I think we kind of belong there,” said Matt.

“We’re excited for our new album to come out when we’re in the UK – it’s our musical spiritual home.”

Australian band DMA’s love touring the UK which they consider their ‘home away from home’. Image: Kalpesh Lathigra.

New album crafted with live show in mind

Across 12 tracks, How Many Dreams? – which was recorded in London and completed in Sydney – weaves electronic dance elements seamlessly through the foundations of guitar rock and lyricism.

And this time round, the much-anticipated record was crafted around the experience of the fans, with the band’s euphoric live shows front of mind.

“During the pandemic, I feel like we realised that we took live music for granted,” said Matt.

“And now that everything is back and shows are happening again, we promised not to take it for granted and centre our musical path more around the live elements of music.

“We decided to think about the live show and the community. The fans all come together and it’s a beautiful thing and we wanted to write an album with that being the centrepiece of it.”

So is there a song Matt is particularly excited to play live for the first time?

“We actually had a rehearsal today (March 23) and we were thinking about which songs to play,” he said.

“There’s a song called Something We Are Overcoming – it’s trancey and people say it sounds like the Vengaboys which I like.

“That song I think is going to be very fun live because it is a bit silly, not very serious and it has a bit of a party vibe. I know that song has divided the fans – some people love it, some people hate it.

“But I think even people who say they hate it, when they see it live, I have a feeling they’re going to love it. Trust me.”

Creating specific setlists

The band – composed of lead singer Tommy O’Dell, acoustic guitarist Johnny Took, and of course, guitarist Matt who also provides backing vocals – released their debut studio album Hills End in 2016, which was followed by For Now in 2018 and The Glow in 2020.

And while the band found it fairly easy to pick which songs to play live from their upcoming album How Many Dreams?, Matt said it was an “interesting” process when it came to choosing which older songs deserved a spot on their 2023 setlist.

DMA’s Johnny Took, Matt Mason and Tommy O’Dell. Image: Reuben Bastienne-Lewis.

He said: “When we were writing the setlist it was actually more difficult to choose old songs than new ones.

“You want the setlist to be different – you don’t just want new songs but also old songs that maybe you haven’t played live before. For people who really love the first two albums, you know they’ll want to hear some songs from these albums – and not just the singles.

“It’s a mix of old and new – it’s a classic”

Creating specific setlists

It’s clear that a lot of thought and effort went into creating this tour’s setlist – but the band didn’t just stop there. With an incredibly loyal fanbase in the UK, the Australian trio like to perform a slightly different mix of songs when they play for British crowds.

“Yes, we have different setlists for Australia and the UK because the fans are different,” revealed Matt.

“It’s hard to explain but it’s a different crowd. We have a very large demographic of fans – we have young people but also people older than our parents and everyone in between.

“There’s a song called Laced that we’re thinking of putting on the setlist in the UK – we wouldn’t play that here (in Australia).

“When we first toured Believe – the Cher cover we did, we only performed it in Australia and not in the UK – because it was an Australian radio station that we sang that on.

DMA’s, who will soon play Aberdeen, performing live early on in their career. Image: Shutterstock.

“We also did a Madonna cover that we played on the whole UK tour but we didn’t play it in Australia because that song wasn’t as popular here.

“It’s really interesting – there are so many different reasons. We also look at streaming data and some songs are more popular in different places. Also, the songs that get picked up by UK radio stations are different.

“You know how things just have a certain energy, some songs have more Australian energy – like Criminals. It’s hard to explain.”

DMA’s on covering Cher’s Believe

The band famously covered Cher’s megahit Believe for Australian radio station triple j in 2016 – the same year they released their debut album. We asked Matt whether he thought it was a blessing – because it led to many fans discovering their music – or a curse – because a lot of people only associated the trio with the cover.

“It was a blessing for sure,” said Matt.

“We didn’t play it for years. Tommy refused to sing it. I feel like if it was to become a curse, it would only be if people were saying ‘sing it, sing it’ and it was all they wanted to hear.

“But we said we weren’t going to play it for a few years and I think that helped it not become a curse. We didn’t really acknowledge it and then slowly later on in our career we started to play it again.

“We left it a few years to let people know that that song doesn’t define us. We have our own songs.

“Often when artists are asked to do covers, it can be annoying. It’s like ‘You don’t want to hear any of the songs that I wrote?’. It can be almost offensive if people only want to hear covers so I think it was a good thing that we waited to play it. We’re not going to play it on this tour.

“But overall, it was good. It’s the most popular thing that we’ve done so that’s definitely a blessing for sure.”

DMA’s to play Aberdeen’s Music Hall

The last time the band visited the UK they recorded one of their shows and released their live album called Live At Brixton in 2021. And Matt revealed the band are once again planning to record one of their performances, but they will take a different direction in 2023.

“We’re doing a bunch of in-store shows with signings,” said Matt.

“I think we’re going to record – maybe – the Liverpool one in The Cavern Club – you know the one where The Beatles played.

“It would be an acoustic album – it would be a simple, understated performance.”

DMA’s will soon play Aberdeen’s Music Hall. Image: Supplied by Aberdeen Performing Arts.

DMA’s will play Aberdeen’s Music Hall on Monday April 17 and will perform in Dundee and Glasgow too, with Matt saying that Scottish dates are always a highlight of their UK tours.

“We love Scotland,” said Matt.

“I have Scottish family and so does Johnny so there’s that connection there. But also, Scotland’s the only country where our album (The Glow) went to number one.

“And the Scottish fans are the most passionate live music fans. There are countless reasons – really countless – why we want to play there.

“Johnny lived there for a year and we have a big connection to the country.”

Aberdeenshire’s Calum Bowie to support DMA’s at Music Hall gig

DMA’s – who last played Aberdeen in 2019 – also love to support and give a bigger platform to up-and-coming local artists. They’re pleased that Aberdeenshire-born singer and TikTok sensation Calum Bowie will support them in the Granite City.

“I haven’t seen Calum live yet but I’m very excited to see him,” said Matt.

“And those crows are very loyal to hometown artists so I’m sure he’s going to get a great reception. I’m really happy that he’s supporting.”

Aberdeen singer songwriter Calum Bowie.
Aberdeenshire singer Calum Bowie will support DMA’s in Abrerdeen. Picture by Gemma Keith Photography.

Glaswegian Dylan John Thomas will also warm up the Music Hall crowd.

Speaking of supporting acts, DMA’s previously opened for Liam Gallagher as well as Arctic Monkeys.

“There is way less pressure if you’re just the support band,” said Matt when the P&J asked him how different the atmosphere can be when they play for fans who specifically came to see them compared to when they support other artists.

“If it doesn’t go great, then it’s whatever, you can relax. But if you’re the headliner, that’s way more pressure.

“But also, you don’t have to take it that seriously when you’re the support act and you can meet some new fans, make new friends, and you can also be in bed early which is a big plus.”

DMA’s will play Aberdeen’s Music Hall on Monday April 17. Tickets can be booked here.

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