The band's songs feature both Michael and Joie sharing the vocals on each song. The group wrote highly melodic, harmony laden tunes, and their constant touring with two and a half to three hour performances won them a wide fanbase.
1992 saw the release of their debut album, Puzzle. The first single "Dizz Knee Land" quickly became a staple of radio across the US and reached as far as Australia, where the song and the album went on high rotation on the national radio station 'Triple J'. "Dizz Knee Land" reached number 5 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. Puzzle went on to sell more than half a million copies. They toured for the album with bands such as Crowded House and Izzy Stradlin & the Ju Ju Hounds.
During several of their tours in the late 1990's, dada performed with an additional musician, Gig McKell, who played rhythm guitar. An ongoing rumor/joke was that Gig McKell was actually Michael Gurley's younger brother due to a resemblance, but this is not the case. However, for the past several years, dada has returned to a 3 piece for live performances.
They released the follow-up in 1994, American Highway Flower. Though the first single from that album "All I Am" spent eight weeks in the modern rock charts their record label at the time (IRS) began to collapse. By the release of their third album El Subliminoso in 1996, IRS had all but folded. In 1997 the band signed to MCA Records and released their fourth CD, the self titled Dada. Their bad luck with record companies continued as the parent company of MCA was sold. They continued touring throughout the US. In 1999 the band decided to have a break and played their supposedly final show in Norfolk, Virginia in front of 14,000 fans.
During their break Joie Calio worked as an A&R scout for MCA Records and wrote a book. Soon afterwards he released his debut solo album The Complications of Glitter. Michael Gurley and Phil Leavitt formed the band Butterfly Jones and they released the album Napalm Springs. Phil Leavitt also had a short stint with the Blue Man Group during this time.
2003 saw the return of dada. They began playing live shows again and recorded one of them in Santa Ana, California. They released the show on CD, titled dada Live: Official Bootleg Vol 1. They spent seven weeks touring the CD across the US. The next year dada released their fifth album How to Be Found. They once again toured extensively across the US. Dada spent much of 2005 working on their next studio album, playing just three gigs during November. They played selected dates mainly on the East Coast of America during February - April 2006.
During much of the band's tenure, Michael Gurley has struggled with carpal tunnel syndrome. In order to continue playing, Gurley was forced to make some changes - these included using light gauge strings and tuning the instrument down a half step, as well as icing his wrists frequently to help with the pain.
In November 2006 the band released an EP, A Friend of Pat Robertson. They commenced 2007 with shows at the Whiskey A Go Go in Los Angeles followed by shows in Milwaukee, Chicago and Minneapolis in April.