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The Glow Up: Inside DMA’S Triumphant Return To International Touring

Rolling Stone Australia speaks to Johnny Took of DMA’S ahead of the band’s livestreamed TikTok performance

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Mclean Stephenson*

This Sunday at 7pm AEDT, DMA’S (@dmasmusic) will take a break from their international touring to livestream a special performance on their TikTok page. Rolling Stone Australia spoke to DMA’s ahead of that performance.

DMA’S guitarist and songwriter Johnny Took is in remarkably good spirits when he pops up on our Zoom chat, despite being in the midst of a back-to-back run of live performances.

From Leeds, Took admits that the rush of live performance is something he didn’t realise he’d yearn for.

“I always thought I was a studio guy and I guess I am, a studio musician,” he says. 

“Though after coming back on the road…I talked to my partner Hayley and she said, ‘I almost write songs just to play them live’. I didn’t realise how much I needed the live thing.”

It’s the first time the beloved Sydney group have been able to tour extensively, much less internationally, since the onset of the pandemic. More notably, this U.K. tour marks the first time DMA’S have been able to tour their acclaimed third studio record, The Glow

The return of DMA’S to stages in the U.K. has been like a strange homecoming. The trio exists in a unique position, where they are arguably as prolific in this international market as they are at home in Australia. 

“It’s something I don’t take for granted at all,” Took says. 

“It feels surreal, to be on the other side of the world and to get that response. We’ve just done 24 dates in a month now, so when we get home, the set’s going to be tighter than ever. All the songs are gonna be really solid.”

The process of bringing that studio musician back out onto the stage has been a unique one for Took this time around. Wrapping one’s brain around a new set of largely unperformed material is one thing, but debuting it to mammoth audiences completely sober is another hurdle to clear.

This U.K. tour has been the first run of shows Took has undertaken since quitting alcohol and as he describes, the experience has shown him a lot about the human body’s resilience.

“I tell you what, that’s one thing for me that’s been crazy.” he admits. 

“Those nerves and anxiety that comes with playing shows like that; normally, you’d have a couple of beers to inebriate you a bit. Having to face that head on has been a bit confronting, but quite eye opening as well.”

“You know that you can face it though, which is cool. The human body is an amazing thing. It only takes five or six gigs and the muscle memory starts forming for the new songs. That’s where the set has gotten to now, I’m not even thinking about those songs now.”

This tour in particular has seen DMA’S hit new heights, debuting The Glow in venues such as London’s Alexandra Palace, where they performed to over 10,000 fans. 

For any DMA’S fan watching from home, seeing the group flourish like this has to instil some sense of pride. And moreover, seeing the reaction to The Glow in its live form only generates excitement, knowing the type of shows still to come once the band returns home.

With two shows left on this tour, DMA’S are bringing the energy back into the studio soon after, with sessions for their fourth album set to take place as the tour wraps up. For Took and his bandmates, harnessing this energy and pouring it into a new collection of work just feels right.

“Coming off the buzz of a tour and having the energy behind you as you go in to record, that could be good.” he says. “It has felt more like a celebration of The Glow; finally, we just get to play it live.”

This month, Australian fans will be able to get another insight into DMA’S life on tour, thanks to TikTok’s dedicated Ausmusic Month content hub. The band will be hosting a special livestream on their TikTok account (@dmasmusic) to reconnect with fans back home on Sunday, November 21st; a great opportunity for everyone to get up to speed on what’s been one of the craziest months of DMA’S career to date.

“It’s a completely different experience, touring in the UK, just because of the sheer amount of people,” Took says. 

“We’ve done 24 dates in a month on this run, you just can’t tour like that in Australia. We do the same amount of tickets in Leeds that we’d do in Sydney. It’s full on, but we feel really privileged that we even have the opportunity to do it.”

DMA’S exclusive livestream will take place via their TikTok account @dmasmusic Sunday 21st November, 7.00pm AEDT