Interview: Tommy O’Dell of DMA’s


MATT Mason, Tommy O’Dell and Johnny Took are Sydney’s DMA’s; a trio tipped to do big things in 2014 and beyond following the March release of their well-received self-titled debut EP. Their music is a style of nostalgic garage-rock with an authentic Australian slant; we challenge anyone who listens to DMA’s ear-worm of a song ‘Delete’ to get it off your radar. With that, Tommy, at lightning speed, scribbles down some brief answers to some brief questions.

What can fans expect from your show at Splendour in the Grass?

Guitars heavy, big choruses, rock and roll.

Given that you’re a relatively new band and have just five songs on record thus far, what will fill a full set?

The EP in full, three other tracks and instrumentals.

How did it feel to be mentioned in the NME and have a full page in Rolling Stone? What did you do to celebrate?

I was surprised that our music had filtered to NME and Rolling Stone that quickly. We were recording at the time so I can’t remember any specific celebration. I guess it gave us a spring in our step.

What other Splendour acts have you most been wanting to catch? Have you any backstories with these bands?

I am really looking forward to catching Jungle. And Sticky Fingers are our mates; they will put on a good show for sure.

Do you feel it is a fair comparison when your music is compared to that of Oasis etc.?

Yeah, it’s fair. Our music sits best beside ‘90s guitar bands.

In your opinion, which of the Britpop bands didn’t get enough acclaim?

Ride, Cast and Ocean Colour Scene.

What’s next for DMA’s? When can we expect an album?

We’re doing a 7” later this year, followed by an album in the first half of next year.

If you could invest in bands much like listed companies on a stock market, who would you throw a lazy $5k towards?

Any local band who can record themselves. $5k can get you what you need to make a record.

For Splendour in the Grass 2014

Interview: Sam Lockwood of the Jezabels


SOME bands have got sass by the spadeful and The Jezabels are at the top of the pile of such bands: quite simply, they are Australian music royalty. Their 2011 debut Prisoner hit number two on the ARIA album chart; a feat matched by this year’s majestic follow-up The Brink. We chat with lead guitarist Sam Lockwood prior to their much-anticipated appearance at Splendour in the Grass.

Your first show was in 2007 was at a Battle of the Bands competition at a Sydney university. Just recently you played at the Sydney Opera House. Has the Jezabels conquered Sydney, so to speak?

No-one can conquer Sydney. It’s too wild a beast. But I can say we felt like we’d conquered something from when we sold out the Hopetoun Hotel a few years ago. Ever since then Sydney has been really good to us. So I guess instead of conquering, we feel like we owe Sydney a great performance whenever we return.

In an early interview one of you said you had to rework tracks from Prisoner to make them less complicated to play live. How much of an influence did that have when writing The Brink?

Prisoner was the first album where we went a bit experimental with the recording process. But what we didn’t think about was recreating the experimentation live. It’s hard to play five guitar layers at once. So, for The Brink we stripped everything back and tried to recreate our live sounds. It was a very liberating process.

What was it about London that made it a good place to record the album? And were you constantly bumping into other Aussie bands?

I saw Matt Corby at our rehearsal studio and subsequently went to his show and he blew my mind, so that was amazing. We became friends with Michael Tomlinson from Yves Klein Blue as well. There are a fair few Australians over there.

Lachlan Mitchell produced your EPs and your first album. Dan Grech-Marguerat worked on The Brink. How different are their styles of production? When looking for a producer, is it the catalogue of artists they have produced that initially attracts you to them?

They are actually surprisingly similar. I mean I didn’t really notice anything different. The most important thing that a producer needs to be is nice, and both Lachlan and Dan are the most beautiful people you could ever meet. For Dan, we saw that he’d worked with artists like Radiohead, Lana del Rey and the Scissor Sisters. He’d had great experience with pop and alternative stuff, and I think we have elements of both in our music. We felt he could be perfect.

How has The Brink been going down live overseas? Which country’s audience reaction has surprised you the most?

It’s been great. We’ve got awesome fans all over the world now. I’d say Germany is a special place for us. I don’t know why the Germans take to us so well – but honestly, I’ve noticed that Germans are very similar to Australians. Maybe that’s it.

A number of Australian musicians have covered your songs. Is there one that appeals to you most, and why?

Two would stick out for me. Firstly, Josh Pyke’s cover of ‘Endless Summer’ was such a great thing because he was the first big artist to take us out on the road. He’s a good friend and an awesome human. But also Big Scary’s cover of ‘Hurt Me’ was beautiful too. They are also great people and musicians, so that was quite amazing.

You’ve been on the road almost constantly for the past two years. What do you enjoy most about touring and what is the secret to staying sane or at least emotionally and spiritually coherent?

First of all, you don’t really stay that sane. I feel, because we spend our time with the same people constantly, you tend to lose some essential social skills. But it’s seriously amazing. It does get hard, however the hard times are the ones you remember the most.

Who on this year’s Splendour line-up would the entire band most like to share an evening with at a good Byron Bay restaurant?

Geez, I’ll take that one and say Future Islands. We saw them play in London a few years ago and we’re all big fans of theirs. That would be a fun evening, I think.

For Splendour in the Grass 2014

Sian Plummer of Circa Waves: “We’re a bit sketchy on the details – can you fill me in?”

circa waves

THERE are bands who have had meteoric rises, and then are English indie-rock quartet Circa Waves, who are set to play Splendour In The Grass and four sideshows.

When they wrote, recorded and uploaded their single ‘Young Chasers’ to Soundcloud in a single day, they didn’t expect much to happen. That very night it was picked up and played on the biggest radio station in the UK, and the young band haven’t looked back since.

“It was definitely a freak occurrence,” says drummer Sian Plummer. “That’s not the norm for us by any means. I think it was just knowing the right person at the right time at Radio 1 that helped it get played that evening. It really helped that Radio 1 was so keen to help champion young, new music, and they were quite eager to give us a push. But [getting it played on] the first day was quite an achievement [laughs].”

Sudden national exposure led to a flurry of song-writing and touring for the band, before a deal was inked with Dew Process.

“We all met at a festival in Liverpool called Sound City,” Plummer says. “We were all there, and we were all bored with our respective bands and whatever. So we decided we’ll start a band with the aim of playing Sound City next year, and instead of doing that we ended up getting signed and touring the world. To celebrate we just went out and had massive steak dinners in this really posh restaurant. We basically gorged ourselves on quality meat.”

They’ve existed for barely a year, in which they’ve toured incessantly, so it’s understandable that not all the members of the band have had a chance to reflect and plan for the gigs ahead. When asked how much he knows about Splendour In The Grass, Plummer laughs.

“We’re a bit sketchy on the details – can you fill me in?” he says. “Australia: the idea that people are listening to our music on the other side of the world is an unreal scenario to think about. I don’t even know what’s happening over there. I can’t quite process the idea that people are hearing our music and are sort of down with it, so we’re looking forward to coming over and seeing first-hand. It’s really exciting. To be honest, we’re just pretty stoked to be going to Australia, so we haven’t thought far enough ahead to be considering festivals and club shows. I guess I’m excited to see what an Australian club show is like; how you guys react and whether it goes off. Festivals are amazing as well; there’s this whole other side of playing to a crowd in a tent that is just a unique feeling, so we’re looking forward to both.”

The band have just released their debut, self-titled EP in time for an airing at Splendour and a run of shows supporting Metronomy.

“We’re just about there right now,” Plummer says. “We’ve got enough material for at least a 45-minute set now. We’re sort of still perfecting our set and have been over the past six months, so I think we’ve got a good set-list together now and we can fill that time. Then obviously Kieran [Shudall, guitar/vocals] does loads of stand-up comedy between each song, so that takes about ten minutes between each song in the set [laughs].”

Despite being praised by British music press and hailed as a “buzz” band and ones-to-watch, Circa Waves are keen on winning fans the old-fashioned way, Plummer insists.

“We did the NME tour, and that was a strange one,” he says. “It didn’t sell as well as it could have done, but they’ve been really supportive and we really appreciate having anyone like that championing us and getting our name out there. In terms of getting us out there, it’s invaluable. Being played on Radio 1 is the best place to get heard. But from our point of view, it’s all about the live shows; going to people’s towns and playing is the important thing. That’s the way we’ve always got out there and got known. If people haven’t seen us play and don’t know what we’re about live, they’re not going to know what it is we’re about. We’re keen to spread that message.”

While their touring schedule appears unending, a band that does things as quickly as Circa Waves isn’t going to wait years to put out an album.

“We’ve just finished recording our album a couple of weeks ago,” Plummer says. “We went into a studio for about five weeks and laid down quite a lot of tracks. Bit by bit we’re going to start mixing them in and showcasing them live. We’ve amassed quite a bit of material in the last six months. Ideally we’re looking at an early next year release, and before then play live in as many places as we can. It’s a pretty raw sounding album in many ways. It’s not an overly-produced record; we’ve tried to keep post-production to a minimum, and it’s got quite a live feel to it in places as well, as some of the takes were done completely live. It’s about capturing and conveying a lot of the energy of us live. I think we’ve managed to get something that sounds pretty cool as well. We get a lot of comparisons to the Strokes and that’s a great comparison to have, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. We’re influenced by the Strokes, but I don’t think we sound like the Strokes, and what we’ve tried to do on this record is to convey who Circa Waves are and how we sound, and I think that’s massively important. We’re looking forward to getting it out there and showing everybody what we’re about.”

When & Where:

Friday 25th July Forum Theatre, Melbourne (supporting Metronomy)
Saturday 26th July Splendour In The Grass, Byron Parklands


For Forte

Interview: Kevin Baird of Two Door Cinema Club

kevin baird

AUSTRALIA and Two Door Cinema Club are no strangers.

The Northern Irish indie-pop trio have graced our shores a number of times for both headline and festival shows, but their upcoming appearance at Splendour in the Grass will be their biggest test Down Under yet. With a new label and material behind them, expect them to rise to the challenge, says bass player Kevin Baird.

Hi Kevin. What’s the plan to get yourself into a Splendour-headlining frame of mind?

I think we’re going to be super-excited to play. We haven’t really been playing much this year; it’ll only be our second or third show we’ll have played in all of 2014 at that point, so we’ll be really up for it. I think it’ll probably the biggest headline festival slot we’ve ever played, so it’s pretty exciting and we’re just going to go for it. I don’t think we’re going to be too nervous or anything; we’re just going to enjoy it.

How did you feel when you heard you were headlining?

I think if it had been last year or the year before we might have felt a bit of pressure, but the overwhelming feeling now when we get asked to headline things, is like ‘finally’. We sort of feel that we’re ready to do it, and it’s where we want to play on the bill. We’ve played enough and we’ve done enough big slots to know that we can headline a festival, so it’s really nice to know that you’ve got to that point. We always looked at other bands who were in that position when we’d be playing at midday or whatever and hoping we get to that point. So, the overriding feeling is happiness.

Will you do anything differently from a normal TDCC show?

I don’t think we’re too protective of ourselves in that way; even if we’re headlining a festival, we’re not under the illusion that everyone there is a massive Two Door Cinema Club fan. I think a lot of bands make that mistake. We’re obviously aware which songs translate better to someone who’s not a massive fan, and it’s all about pace and speed and not really giving people a chance to relax. We’re not going to be spending 30 seconds between songs talking rubbish, or standing in silence tuning our guitars. It’s all about momentum when you’re in a big outdoor arena; I think at a festival you just got to get on with what you’re trying to do.

Will you be playing any new material at Splendour?

We’re sort of toying with the idea at the moment. We’ve been writing a lot of new stuff while we’ve not been playing shows this year. We haven’t quite decided if we’re ready for an unveiling or not, but if we were to do it, I think Splendour would be a very nice place to do it.

How much have you written?

I think we’ve lost count, but we’re working in double figures in terms of ideas at least. The first album was very different, because there was no pressure. We just arrived with the album, recorded it and it was done. With the second, we sort of wrote 15 or 16 songs and 11 of them ended up on the record. I think this time around we’re trying to be a bit more conscious of having more choice, so we’re just writing as much as we can, hoping to have about twenty or thirty songs to pick from.

Are you looking take your sound in any new directions with the new material?

We were writing the last record in 2011 and a lot has happened and changed about what we are listening to, our perspective of things and our lives in general. It’s more natural to sort of write what we feel like writing, and that just naturally comes out differently. We actually find it much more unnatural to just rip ourselves off, if you know what I mean. Any time we’ve tried to do that it’s come out as a terrible song, so we end up doing whatever feels right at the time. Luckily for us people have liked it so far, and hopefully they’ll like it when we release another record.

After your second album, you left the Kitsuné label and signed with Parlophone. Was there any particular strategy behind that?

We left Kitsuné at the end of our record contract, and we felt like we wanted a change. Parlophone were one of the labels interested in signing us. Kitsuné have always been incredibly amazing and have been a really positive force in our music, image and everything. But at the end of the day we sort of became a bit frustrated – and it’s a horrible thing to say – about money, and although Kitsuné put everything in and we couldn’t ever have asked for more, we’re quite ambitious. We have quite large fanbases in places like Singapore and Malaysia, and we feel like we need to be releasing albums there, so that was one of the things that made us want to go with a big company; to make sure the records come out in these places. The previous two albums; they had to import them from Japan or Australia. Parlophone are amazing; they’re the small family relationship of an indie label, but with a major machine behind it.

If you could have a cameo role in any TV show, past or present, what would it be?

The Sopranos. It’s just the best TV show ever. I’d like to be one of the animals that Tony Soprano loves, but I don’t think that would be possible. So I’ll be some sort of animal keeper, so Tony Soprano will like me.

Which celebrity or musician would you be happy to sit next to on a long-haul flight?

Not the other guys in the band! Someone who’s not very talkative, because I don’t like to talk. Someone who is really boring.

Finish this sentence: fuck the expense, send me a case of…

Umm… Cooper’s Pale Ale. Love it.


For Splendour in the Grass

J of Jungle: “We almost pictured ourselves in a jazz club, with T doing a door solo over drops”

jungle band

THEIR music has been described as kaleidoscopic modern soul, but being in Jungle is all about feeling before style, says the band’s singer and producer, known simply as J.

“In the real world, I’m is doing all sorts of shit to try to prove myself,” he says. “Whereas J and T are our nicknames; they’re where we go and that’s what Jungle is for us. It’s just somewhere we can go and create and be free, and is a really powerful thing. It’s important that it’s not about any individual. It should always be about the music.”

Along with childhood friend T, J formed Jungle as recently as recently as ten months ago, and despite a much-hyped debut album released this week and an upcoming appearance at Splendour in the Grass, the London-based duo remains as mysterious as ever. Their self-titled record is very much a DIY release, featuring smooth, crisp bass-lines, urban grooves, falsetto vocals and a few happy accidents.

“A lot of the stuff we put down, we put down because it was hilarious,” J says. “There’s a solo that was a door creaking, which some people love and some people hate. Basically, I was on the computer listening to a track and T left the room to make coffee. The door in my bedroom is basically creaky as hell, and creaked almost in tune with the track in a weird kind of way. I was like ‘wow, stop, stop!’ and started pointing a microphone at the door, saying ‘you’re on, it’s solo time’. We almost pictured ourselves in a jazz club, with T doing a door solo over drops.”

Despite mostly being recorded in a home studio in west London, the album is littered with imagery of faraway places, as on tracks like ‘The Heat’.

“I suppose, if you think about it, everything on our album is a visual reference,” J says. “It’s all about how you can be in that place to create that music. For example, with ‘The Heat’; that’s the beach, you know? So, the beach is a metaphor for a feeling of happiness. Rather than just being in a room in Shepherd’s Bush, you can close your eyes and go to that space. Einstein said ‘simplicity is genius’, and it is; I think all the best things in life are simple, and I think we kind of look up to that quote.”

One faraway place Jungle aren’t going to have to visualise is Australia, with the band set to fill a slot at Splendour in the Grass.

“Oh God, I don’t know how big our set is going to be there – don’t tell me!” J says. “I just go around expecting these tiny little hundred-person gigs. Everything for us is about human connection. If you look at our videos, it’s all about the people and what they’re saying through their eyes, which you lose so much of in the digital age. It’s ironic that most people access it through the Internet. I think live we want to make it about having people on-stage, and I think people relate to people more than laptops, and they enjoy it. The interesting point comes when you explore the line between live and electronic; where does the human end and the computer begin?”

Part of Jungle’s mystery has been intentionally engineered; that’s for certain. But as J confirms, the duo are much more down-to-earth than at first glance.

“We finished a song called ‘Son Of A Gun’ and it gave us the energy and confidence to finish more,” he says. “And then you start to build up that archive of stuff. A lot of people struggle – and we have struggled – with finishing stuff or having the confidence to finish it. Its only really a sketch when it’s finished and you can only really judge it when it’s finished. It’s an emotional whirlwind of a process, especially when you’re doing everything and you’re writing, recording and mixing; it becomes one and you have to be quite structured in the way you deal with it, because you can end up producing and mixing before you’ve even written anything. There were probably terms where we were thinking that we hated the sound of a snare drum, but the song didn’t even have a chorus, you know? It was just about taking things one step at a time and doing what feels right. It’s quite a DIY process for us, and we kind of enjoy that. Some of the best parts on the record are the big mistakes, and you have to embrace things that just happened off the cuff. That’s a process that happened from when we grew up. When you first get a family computer and get a little USB mic and realise you can do this without having to go to Abbey Road or do it properly. We’re at an age now where you can create and produce stuff to high standards with these tools, and it’s not necessarily about how it sounds. There are some amazing records that sound like they were recorded in the plushest studios, but just don’t have any emotion in them. Whereas you’ve got some records that were recorded on one mic in a basement, that are the most incredible records ever. Therefore, looking at that, it’s not about where you are or what you’re recording, it’s more about that feeling, emotion and energy in the room. You can waste so much time positioning mics and that sort of thing.”


For mX

Kram of Spiderbait: “We always feel that our shows are special gigs”


SPIDERBAIT are hitting the road for their first national tour in ten years and an appearance at Splendour, and drummer/singer Kram is taking it all in his stride.

“We just turn up,” he says. “That’s our way to get pumped up. We don’t really prepare that much; we do some rehearsing and stuff, but my whole philosophy is that our music is very spontaneous. We don’t think about it too much; we save ourselves for the show and we don’t get there too early. We’ve been playing together for over 20 years, so whenever we walk onto the stage we feel each other’s dynamic through the songs we play, including the new ones in the set. Then we just let it happen; we let it all come out and let the audience’s energy, our energy and the music’s energy create a melting pot that you can stir for yourself and have a great time. That’s kind of the way I like to do it and how we operate. That’s why I think our shows are very exciting, because you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen.”

While their self-titled comeback album was released in November last year, it’s been a bit of a wait for the accompanying tour.

“It was basically difficult for us because of some family stuff,” Kram says. “We did a couple of festivals in Victoria and we were originally going to do Big Day Out, but that unfortunately folded as we couldn’t reach an agreement with them. It’s a shame that the show has reached its demise; we have a lot of great memories of that festival. So, we decided we would put it off and start it at Splendour In The Grass, which we’re playing this month, then we’ll do the national tour after that.”

Having just returned from Brazil and with film score work in the pipeline, Kram is as busy as ever, but the chance to get Spiderbait back on the road was an enticing offer.

“Everyone was up for it, absolutely,” he says. “The guys at Secret Sounds, who do Splendour In The Grass, were really keen on doing it. It was probably more their idea, in a way. We were like ‘yeah, that sounds good’ because we hadn’t toured for a long time; it’s just not something that we do very much any more. Once they put forward the idea and the dates were set up, we thought it was really cool. We’re looking forward to it; it should be good. We love playing live. We always feel that our shows are special gigs and we love that. We love the energy the crowd gives us and we’re very grateful to our fans for wanting to see us.”


For Scenestr

Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs: “Aren’t I supposed to know how to sing?”


SINGER and multi-instrumentalist Merrill Garbus is refreshingly honest about her need for musical reinvention on Tune-Yards’ new album Nikki Nack.

Her 2011 album Whokill received almost universal critical acclaim, and saw the New England native off on a gruelling world tour. After a period of reflection, the 35 year-old realised it was time to go back to basics for album number three.

“I didn’t want to use any of the old tricks I used to,” she says. “I didn’t want to use my older methods of writing and the looping pedal. The looping pedal has very specific limitations, and although it did me well for a long time, I think I had come to the end of the road with that. So it felt like if I wasn’t going to use the ukulele like on the first album and I wasn’t going to use the looping pedal, I was back to square one or ground zero with a big question mark saying ‘how do you write an album?’ without doing it the ways I have done it before.”

Ditching the looping pedal might seem like a bold move for a musician who has relied on it so heavily, but Garbus went a step further by literally going back to school.

“I started off by taking voice and drum lessons,” she says. “It was difficult. I love being good at things, and I don’t like not being good at things, so it was very humbling to learn that I don’t know everything and realise that I can improve and learn new techniques. I took a lot of Haitian drum lessons, and it was great to admit that I had no idea what I was doing and nothing to direct me, as I had just not heard that music before. It was really challenging, but that was easier than taking voice lessons. I mean, aren’t I supposed to know how to sing? I sing for my living, so you’d think I’d know how to sing, but it turns out I have a lot of improving to do there as well.”

After experiencing the intensive Whokill tour, Garbus admits it’s difficult to not get burnt out.

“I’m 35 years old,” she says. “My body can only endure so much partying and late nights. In other words, we hardly do that at all. To me, keeping my health up and having a regular routine is important. I have certain books that I read and I have yoga and I eat well; pretty simple things. This is me trying to pretend I have a healthy, stable life, even though we’re taking that stable life all across the world. It’s pretty fun.”

Tune-yards’ upcoming appearance at Splendour in the Grass will give the band a chance to test out its new skills on an Australian audience.

“We’ll be so excited to be in Australia,” Garbus says. “So we’ll have lots of energy I hope (laughs). I’m drumming a lot more this time around, and we have another drummer who plays a very unique setup. We’ve got two very amazing back-up singers. Nate Brenner is on bass as always, also with more synthesisers. Expect a lot of fully danceable music.”


For mX