WHAT’S UP | BRITISH INDIA
Ahead of the release of British India’s sixth album, Forgetting the Future, we had a chat to frontman Declan Melia about the record, touring, and making music with your best mates.
Tomorrow is album release day! How are you feeling?
It feels a little different this time. Last time when we put the record out, there was a real sense of celebration, we had a big party and it was such a good time. Because you know, how many times do you put a record out? Like, how many people get to do such an amazing thing? At the moment everyone’s really disconnected and, I don’t know, it doesn’t really feel like it’s coming out at all. I guess the reason for that must be because unlike every other record we’ve done, we finished this record in February. For example, with previous records, if we put out on September 22nd, we’d be finishing the vocals on September 16th. So there’s been a real space, a real gap, between having the record finished and having it come out. But it’s good to have people finally hear it, I’m still a little apprehensive about it, as you would be for a new record.
How would you describe the album?
It’s probably our most complex album sonically, and it’s our most produced album. It’s probably the slickest and most layered and luscious, but it’s still very raw. We kind of experimented with production on the last record, a lot of the songs were a lot slower, and the emotion was probably a lot more subtle. In this one the emotion is right at the forefront. It’s a really angry, aggressive album, but it’s kind of produced and futuristic. I think that’s really rare kind of balance to achieve. I think because punk rock, which is an aesthetic we kind of identity with somewhat, there’s a real feeling where it’s not authentic to over-produce things, you have to keep things really raw. So to take that punk rock emotion and make it sound slick and quite elegant and sophisticated is a pretty cool balance, a pretty cool mix.
What was different this time around?
One of the most important things was having a different producer, Oscar Dawson [of Holy Holy], who we hooked up with, almost against our will. We’ve had a lot of bad experiences with looking for outside producers in the past, it didn’t come to a great product. So when we hooked up with Oscar we were pretty cynical, we didn’t think that it would yield results, but he was really good. He really pushed up and we really pushed him, and I think we wouldn’t have made the record with a different combination of guys.
The other thing, kind of contributing to the emotional aspect of the record, was just that it was a really hard record to write. I was suffering from really bad writer’s block for about twelve months, and some of the other guys, well, some of their lives just fucked up really bad in those twelve months. I remember we were making the record all through winter 2015, and it was just the fucking worst. It was just really cold and depressing, and we’re in this studio with no ideas, and I just wanted to cry the whole time. Our salvation was just anger, really getting furious, and you can hear that on quite a few tracks.
Do you have a favourite on the album?
My favourite is a song called Just Sing Like Everybody Else, which is actually the first song we wrote for the record. I think that was the one that’s just got incredible speed and incredible pacing. If you just listen to Will [Drummond] and Matt [O’Gorman] playing bass and drums, it’s so compulsive. I just listening to that kind of music. And that’s what’s so exciting about this record, it’s the kind of record that I would like to listen to. There aren’t a lot of other bands within this country, or really anywhere, that are doing exactly that. I just remember when we wrote that, in the chorus, I was looking around at the other guys like yeah, fuck yeah, that’s it. This is where it’s at man. This is the good stuff.
What’s it like creating new music with guys you’ve known for so long?
It’s great, it’s great. It’s quite funny because, as you probably know, we’ve been friends for many many years, but you don’t draw on the whole twelve years. I mean, you can draw on the twelve years of friendship, but it’s like, because people change so much, it’s like when you arrive at the studio you don’t know which version of us you’re going to get. So it’s not like you’re dealing with the same person from twelve years ago, I mean, you are and you aren’t. Whatever their mood is, or whatever they’ve become, or whoever they’re being is the person you’ve got to deal with. It can sound really negative, but it’s not. That’s just the way it is, people change and they’re constantly changing. On one level yeah, I’m still talking to O’Gorman about when we’re fucking running around on the oval in Year Seven, because I’ve known him since then, but at the same time he’s an adult now, he’s got his own house and a girlfriend and stuff, and he has a career, and it’s quite different. It’s still great though you know, when we’re in the back of the car doing long trips to make fun of teachers from high school. Which I think is awesome.
Does making music with the guys get easier or harder with time?
It gets harder, or I maybe guess it kind of stays the same. There are creative tensions and blocks that just come and go. Someone asked me if there was still tensions between the band, and it’s true that there are, but once again, like big personalities, they’re normal. My ego kind of conflates, and moves in weird ways, so they’ve got to move in different ways to accommodate me. It does get harder though, because when you first pick up a guitar and you first start jamming and getting your head around songwriting, it’s just quite magical. Anything you write has a certain innocence and purity that is really hard to maintain. With this record, it was hard for us to get in a room and write a song that hasn’t already been on another record, or like something we’ve done before. We really had to mine for genuine emotion, we had to mine for something that wasn’t similar to what we’ve already made.
You’ve got a huge tour coming up, why’d you guys decide to go all out? Not that we’re complaining …
No one is complaining! I’m not sure, touring is just what we do, it’s always been what we do, this is what we full time. It’s not like we have anything else that takes up our headspace. I think our mentality is that if we’re going to do something, let’s do it fucking full on or let’s not do it at all. It’s like certain bands, and it’s fine for them, but they’ll do a record and do Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, they might do another thing in six months and that’s it. We couldn’t do that, it wouldn’t feel like being a band for us.
But we love it too. We love going to strange places we’ve never been to before, getting ourselves into strange situations that we wouldn’t have been in otherwise. It’s still fun for us, and I’m looking forward to it immensely.
Photos by Michellefish
What’s the plan post tour?
We’re actually trying to plan a holiday! Last year in February the four of us went to Japan. And it was really weird, because we had just finished a massive tour then, and we’d been in cars and planes with each other for three months. So when everyone asked ‘What are you guys going to do now? Are you going to have a break from each other?’ We instead went on holiday together. We’re going to do another trip, Will is trying to organise it. I don’t know where we’re going to go, but it’ll be fun.
But I’m kinda excited about the next record because the last few tracks we recorded, we worked on them in a way that we had never worked on music before, so I really wanna explore that and push that out and try and make a whole record like that.
You can catch British India and their new album Forgetting The Future live on their Australian tour or check it out now on all major streaming services.
Friday, 22nd September | Astor Hotel, Goulburn
Saturday, 23rd September | Shoal Haven Bowling Club, Shoal Haven
Friday, 29th September | Caloundra Music Festival, Sunshine Coast
Saturday, 30th September | Racehorse Hotel, Ipswich
Sunday, 1st October | Wildwood Music Festival, Port Macquarie
Friday, 6th October | Republic Bar, Hobart
Saturday, 7th October | Club 54, Launceston
Friday, 13th October | Spotted Cow, Toowoomba
Saturday, 14th October | Grass Is Greener Festival, Cairns
Friday, 20th October | Hotel Brunswick, Brunswick Heads
Saturday, 21st October | Grass Is Greener Festival, Mackay
Thursday, 26th October | Arcade Nightclub, Joondalup
Friday, 27th October | Badlands, Perth
Saturday, 28th October | Badlands, Perth
Sunday, 29th October | Newport Hotel, Fremantle
Thursday, 2nd November | Prince Of Wales, Bunbury
Friday, 3rd November | Rollercoaster, Mandurah
Saturday, 4th November | Dunsborough Tavern, Dunsborough
Sunday, 5th November | The Gate, Success
Thursday, 9th November | Karova Lounge, Ballarat
Friday, 10th November | 170 Russell, Melbourne
Saturday, 11th November | The Wool Exchange, Geelong
Friday, 17th November | Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Saturday, 18th November | Entrance Leagues Club, Central Coast
Friday, 24th November | Soundlounge, Gold Coast
Saturday, 25th November | The Triffid, Brisbane
Friday, 1st December | Discovery, Darwin
Saturday, 2nd December | Gap View Hotel, Alice Springs
Thursday, 7th December | The Basement, Canberra
Friday, 8th December | Uni Bar, Wollongong, NSW
Saturday, 9th December | The Metro Theatre, Sydney
Friday, 15th December | The Gov, Adelaide