INTERVIEW: British India
British India have confidently made themselves one of Australia’s favourite indie-rock bands. The Melbourne four piece burst with energy and personality every time they step foot on stage with their unique storytelling complimenting their onstage personas. Over the years they have played shows alongside the likes of The Rolling Stones, Fall Out Boy, Hunters And Collectors and have completed countless headline tours. Last year the band released their sixth studio album “Forgetting The Future” that delivered bold and energetic rock tracks that perfectly continued their Triple J perfected sound. The band have just released their new single “Midnight Homie” from the album and are going to hit the road once again with a massive national tour. These shows promise to be just as energetic and crazy as ever as they celebrate this song which is all about having fun and getting into trouble with your closest friends. I recently chatted to lead singer Declan Melia about some of the craziest nights they’ve had as band, what he regrettably said to Keith Richards from The Rolling Stones and reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of their debut album. Check it out;
TB: Your new single “Midnight Homie” quickly became a fan favourite after you released your latest album “Forgetting The Future”. Why do you think this song in particular received so much attention and traction from your listeners?
DM: Dude! If I knew what made people like songs I’d be a rich man. All you can do is write them the best you can and then see what works. When we were writing it we were aiming for a sort of Gorillaz meets McClusky sound. Can you imagine how insane that would sound if we pulled it off? Who wouldn’t like that! Also its fast and drunk people love fast songs.
TB: One of the lyrics in the song hears you proclaiming “my night is better than your whole life”. Which is an ambitious call haha.. So what is one of the craziest nights you’ve ever had?
DM: We were never much of a party band. We were much more the type to have a few beers in the van on the way to the hotel and then maybe watch a film together over a bottle of red. Besides that I’ve not had too many crazy nights. Maybe when we finished high school we pulled a few all nighters drinking those vodka premixes that are probably illegal now. You could buy a slab of them for thirty bucks and they would just turn your whole experience of reality into something resembling staring into an LED light. I remember listening to a lot of Dizzee Rascall. Nothing compared to your average first year university student. That lyric is actually a rip off of a Lou Reed quote, ‘My week beats your year’. He was such a fuck.
TB: Reflecting back on your debut album “Guillotine” which was released 11 years ago, what would you say is the strongest and weakest thing about it?
DM: I’m not overly critical of it. A few of the songs are a little weak but all in all it’s a nice little piece, brash and fun and not in the least self conscious. A nice culmination of influences and egos!
TB: Since putting the last record out have you guys been in the studio working on new music? If yes, how have you found your writing or production influences have changed in your recent studio work compared to the creative process of “Forgetting The Future”?
DM: Oh don’t ask me that! I’m so ashamed to admit that the answer is no. This is the longest we’ve gone without writing together by quite a long margin. The idea was to take a long time off so that it would creep back up on us and we wouldn’t be able to resist it, it’s never that easy though is it?
TB: You guys will be embarking on a massive Australian tour which kicks off in May. So what can your fans expect from these new headline shows compared to your last run of gigs?
DM: They can expect a damn good party! We’re all about rolling into town, drinking four beers and jumping onstage. It’s not about finesse or technicality. It’s about dancing and laughing with a bunch of other British India fans in a sweaty dark room. Well that’s how we like it anyway. The live show is and I’m not apologetic about saying it, in a state of arrested development. If you want to see bands with an amazing light show and costume changes there are other bands who do it better, we keep it raw.
TB: When you go back into rehearsals whats the process you go through as a band to decide how you want the show to feel or sound? Is there any songs in your back catalogue that you want to experiment with sonically with these upcoming shows?
DM: Our process is usually to play a few old tunes. Not typically the songs from the records but more usually b-sides and unrecorded songs just to get into the swing of things. It’s pretty rare that we actively rehearse the songs that we’re going to do at the shows because we’re worried it might strip the songs of their spontaneity and spark. When it comes to the way we want the songs to sound the band is unanimous. We want it to sound loud and heavy! Our studio sound has always just been a more palatable version of our live sound. As for the sonic experimentation you mention, that’s a really good idea! If only we had the technique to pull that sort of thing off *laughs*.
TB: British India have toured the country many times so what has been one of the funniest/weirdest touring memory?
DM: It’s all been weird but only very rarely funny. We take what we do very seriously and I’m always surprised when our audience don’t. There was one particular, shall we say ‘incident’ in which I broke into a hospital in Stoke while on PCP and had to be restrained by four volunteer health workers. I ended up with sever paranoid anxiety and we had to cancel quite a few shows. I really regret my actions on that fateful night and want to apologise to my band mates, the tour promoters, all the fans, and the selfless volunteers at Stoke Public Hospital who were really understanding despite all the trouble and hurt I caused. What I did was wrong and I know that now. I will never forgive myself. Not if I live for a thousand years. Never.
TB: You’ve opened for some massive names including The Rolling Stones, Fall Out Boy and Hunters And Collectors. So what is one of the best piece of advice you’ve taken away from an artist you’ve toured with?
DM: When we supported the Stones we had a moment before we went on to get a quick photo with them. I was drinking a Konig Bansah Akosomboh and Keith asked me in his croaky octogenarian voice “’hey man is that beer from Ghana?’. It was but I didn’t want to seem unaccommodating so I told him that it was from the ”’ice-box just over there” and that he was welcome to have one.
TB: The Australian music scene is currently buzzing with so many incredible new acts. So what new artist are you loving at the moment that you think we should keep an eye on?
DM: Well we try to keep our good eye on emerging acts while they’re still comparative enough to fit into a panorama but then every time we turn around they have exploded like the sequel to “Honey I Shrunk The Kids”. We like Horror My Friend and Unbroken Expanse but doubtless you’ve heard of them by now, seems like they should be name dropping US in interviews. Come to think of it, whatever happened to Rick Moranis?
TB: Lets play a little game when you answer these questions with the first thing that comes to mind.
TB: The emoji that best describes our band is…
DM: The proud flag of the central Asian Republic Of Uzbekistan.
TB: One thing I can’t travel without is…
DM: A Bergsonian sense of duration.
TB: Our pre show pump up song or ritual is…
DM: Three hours of crippling pre-show anxiety.
TB: Most mornings I…
DM: Think about death.
TB: If we could form a supergroup with any other band or artist it would be…
DM: Lot’s of people don’t consider Sylvia Day an artist but…
You can catch British India on tour throughout May – July as the band celebrates the release of their new single “Midnight Homie”.
MIDNIGHT HOMIE TOUR DATES
Friday 11 May – Tap House, Bendigo
Saturday 12 May – Pelly Bar, Frankston
Friday 25 May – Towradgi Beach Hotel, Wollongong
Saturday 26 May – Narrabeen RSL, Narrabeen
Friday 8 June – Sooki Lounge, Belgrave
Saturday 9 June – Karova Lounge, Ballarat
Friday 15 June – 170 Russell, Melbourne
Saturday 16 June – Barwon Club Hotel, Geelong
Friday 22 June – Miami Tavern, Gold Coast
Saturday 23 June – The Triffid, Brisbane
Friday 29 June – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Friday 6 July – The Gov, Adelaide