DMA'S frontman Tommy O'Dell unveils glowing ambition for third album

BRIGHT SPARKS: DMA'S are, from left, Johnny Took, Tommy O'Dell and Matt Mason. Picture: McLean Stephenson
BRIGHT SPARKS: DMA'S are, from left, Johnny Took, Tommy O'Dell and Matt Mason. Picture: McLean Stephenson

EVEN before the first chorus hits on The Glow's opening track Never Before, you realise DMA'S have delivered a record custom-made for stadiums.

Album No.3 from the Sydney Britpop revivalists is meant to be their defining moment. The record that propels the three-piece of Tommy O'Dell (vocals), Matt Mason (lead guitar) and Johnny Took (rhythm guitar) to the top echelon of Australian artists.

Two albums - Hills End (2016) and For Now (2018) - and five years of heavy touring in the UK has built an undeniable momentum.

And on The Glow they have the tracks to light up stadium and festival crowds at home and in the Old Dart.

But sadly due to the COVID-19 pandemic it could be some time before DMA'S are whipping up capacity crowds with their new beat-driven tracks like Life Is A Game Of Changing and Cobracaine.

The album was initially scheduled for release in April, but due to the coronavirus it was delayed.

DMA'S - Life Is A Game Of Changing

O'Dell admits there is a fear The Glow's success could be dulled by being unable to tour, but he and his bandmates knew they had to bite the bullet and release these songs into the world.

"I can only hope it makes people learn and love the album even more, so by the time we can get out there and play it, people will be super up for it," O'Dell says.

"We delayed the album once. We just can't keep putting it off. It's not really fair to our fans and also a lot of the album will find it's place with people even though you can't perform it live."

Sydney fans will be able to hear the new tracks soon, after DMA'S announced 12 unplugged shows between July 30 and August 8 at the Factory Theatre. The audience will be seated and capped at 150 to abide by social distancing measures.

The third album is often the most challenging. DMA'S heroes, Manchester rock legends Oasis, famously stumbled when their cocaine-charged third album Be Here Now in 1997 spectacularly disappointed and signalled the end of their creative peak.

DMA'S appear set to avoid the mistakes of the Gallagher brothers by pushing their sound forward. The Glow introduces rave beats that are more New Order and Primal Scream, than Oasis.

Life Is A Game Of Changing could have sound-tracked any night in Manchester's famous Hacienda nightclub in the late '80s and the synth-heavy title track would fit comfortably on The Killers' debut album Hot Fuss.

But DMA'S haven't entirely rejected their trademark sound. Round & Around is pure English indie rock and Hello Girlfriend is indebted to the Stone Roses.

Most importantly for O'Dell, the band have full confidence in these songs.

I can only hope it makes people learn and love the album even more, so by the time we can get out there and play it, people will be super up for it.

Tommy O'Dell

"We've worked hard for the last five years on a touring front, building our fan base," he says.

"Once we get back to festivals and live gigs next year, hopefully this record can elevate us that extra bit and keep our fans that we have, who are quite loyal, but also get new fans as well and keep momentum going.

"We wanted to make music and develop as musicians and as a band and with this record I feel we've done that. In that sense we're really happy, so hopefully the rest just follows."

For the first time DMA'S recorded overseas with a hit-making producer. The first single Silver was recorded at The Grove on the Central Coast before they headed to London to track Life Is A Game Of Changing.

From there the decision was made to enlist Grammy-winning producer Stuart Price (Madonna, New Order, The Killers) at Westlake Studios in Hollywood to hone the electronic sound DMA'S craved.

Only a few years ago DMA'S were recording in O'Dell and Took's rundown Newtown apartment with a mattress against the wall to restrict reverb. Now that were recording in a space that once housed Michael Jackson, Madonna, Van Halen, Quincy Jones and Alanis Morissette.

FESTIVAL DAYS: Tommy O'Dell on stage at Grow Your Own in 2019. Picture: Paul Dear

FESTIVAL DAYS: Tommy O'Dell on stage at Grow Your Own in 2019. Picture: Paul Dear

"It just makes it that extra bit special, particularly looking back on it," O'Dell says. "To be in LA recording is something you kind of think about as a kid."

But to prevent the boys becoming overawed, Price set up the room like their Newtown flat, complete with a couch and coffee table.

Fast forward to the past few months and DMA'S have been back in their Sydney apartment working on new music during the COVID-19 lockdown, as well as recording covers of Fatboy Slim's Praise You for UK's Radio X.

Usually bands like DMA'S would wait until the end of the album and touring cycle to begin work on the next record. However, O'Dell says COVID-19 may escalate plans for album No.4.

"The Glow was written before all this shit went down," he says. "The next bunch of music that comes out from artists, I hope it's not too depressing.

"Our next album will have songs on it that we've already written. We've always done that. We've always had a big group of songs and whenever it's time to think about an album we go into those songs and start working through them."

The Glow by DMA'S is out on Friday.

This story DMA'S hope COVID-19 doesn't dull glowing stadium rock appeal first appeared on Newcastle Herald.