How Many Dreams?
“I feel like it’s got something for everyone, this record,” DMA’S guitarist Johnny Took tells Apple Music. “It’s got the DMA’S sing-alongs, it’s got that dance energy that we were flirting with on the last record, but then it’s also got that rock ’n’ roll nostalgia thing that we do. My favorite genre is happy-sad, and there are a lot of happy-sad moments.” The “last record” Took is referring to is 2020’s THE GLOW, the album in which he says the group moved on from being a “’90s throwback band” and into a more “modern context.” Part of the reason for that was the presence of famed producer Stuart Price (Pet Shop Boys, Madonna), with whom the band has reunited on How Many Dreams?. He’s joined here by co-producer Rich Costey (Muse), the duo working with DMA’S over a three-week period in the UK before the group returned to Australia to finish the LP with Konstantin Kersting (Tones And I). Here, Took walks us through How Many Dreams? track by track. “How Many Dreams?” “It was one of the first songs that we [wrote] with the thought of the live show—like, potentially this could open the show. I don't think it crossed our minds until we started playing gigs like Ally Pally [London’s Alexandra Palace] and Liverpool Arena and you've got the light show and the LED screens. It's quite inspiring musically to go, okay, if I've got that going on, maybe this will actually work live. We started doing that a lot more on this record.” “Olympia” “This is one of [guitarist Matt] Mason's songs. I think he originally wrote it on a ukulele, but obviously it sounds a lot different now. It’s got that old-school DMA’S energy. Just bloody loud guitars and a big vocal hook.” “Everybody’s Saying Thursday's the Weekend” “I've got a Notes section in my phone called ‘lyrics that sparked feeling.’ And I wrote ‘everybody's saying Thursday's the weekend’ down in that, and then pretty much the core of the song was written with that as the opening line. And then I came back in with Mason and Tommy [O’Dell, vocals], and we wrote the chorus and the rest of the track really quickly.” “Dear Future” “I wrote this song about a close friend of mine [in Sydney] who grew up in the country, and she’d just broken up with her partner. She tried to get away to clear her head and went back to the country, but then she was thinking about stuff more than she should have been. She probably should have just stayed in Sydney and kept working and been distracted and kept moving on with her life. It was loosely written about her, but kind of about looking to the future. And writing a letter to yourself about, how am I going to change after this life-altering moment?” “I Don’t Need to Hide” “That was written in the studio, where I was working with those big synth sounds at the start, wanting to write something where the verses were super melodic and beautiful, but I wanted the choruses to be really rhythmic and aggressive. I really love that song because it was the first time in the demoing stages that I felt like we'd really reached a nice mix between the dancing and the rock thing.” “Forever” “We've been doing a bit of songwriting for some other people recently, and we didn't really expect this song to make the album. We thought it might go to a poppier artist. But every time we played the demo to people, they thought it was a really beautiful song and it would be silly for it not to go on our album. It’s about me meeting my wife Hayley, and just about finding new love in general.” “Fading Like a Picture” “During COVID I was writing a lot of instrumental tracks. And just to keep Tommy on his toes I would send him these weird instrumentals every couple of days and be like, ‘Hey, write a melody to this,’ as a kind of stimulus. So he'd be listening on a laptop with his headphones, and he would sing [the melody] on his phone in the voice memos. Tommy [then] wrote his own chords to the melody that he'd written, and then he played that to me. I was like, well, that's the song.” “Jai Alai” “This is one of Mason’s tracks. And it’s got that beautiful piano part. I think he kind of Frankensteined a couple of songs that he had already to piece it together. But it's a kind of quirky song. Jai alai is like a weird sport that was invented in the Basque Country. So the song’s basically about that quirky sport.” “Get Ravey” “I started listening to Sonic Youth for a while. Obviously it doesn't sound like Sonic Youth, but that's what happens when you're inspired by something—you do your version of it. This is one of my favorite tracks on the album because the verses are like the lowest point of Tommy's register and I think the chorus is the highest point of Tommy's register.” “21 Year Vacancy” “This song I wrote when I was 21 years old. It was like a country song, and Tommy and I actually performed it in our old band. But it was never really finished. And then Mason wrote that chorus and pre-chorus part, and it just came together. We do a lot of that with DMA’S—one of us will have an idea, and then it's not till it gets filtered through the three of us that it really sounds like DMA’S.” “Something We Are Overcoming” “We wouldn't have released a track like this back in the day, but we love the melodies and we're a little bit less insecure with trying new things like that now. Funny story about this—Mason would always go in and record this song and have too many beers, and he kept forgetting what he saved it as in the computer. And so I think there's like six or seven versions of the song because he’d end up partying while making it and then forgetting what he saved it as.” “De Carle” “We learned a lot of things about ourselves from working with Stuart on THE GLOW, and for a lot of years became really obsessed with electronic music. I went down this big rabbit hole of listening to bands like The Chemical Brothers and Underworld, and over COVID experimenting with seeing how far we could push that idea. This was the song of, like, how far can we push the sound?”