For the first time British India have a plan that goes beyond “the next six minutes”.
They’ve secured themselves a record deal with Liberation Music, have a fourth studio album in the works, and a string of overseas tours planned. But the past 12 months have seen the Melbourne quartet stretched to their limits in more ways than one, explains frontman Declan Melia.
“To tell you the truth the last year wasn’t the most fun, or easiest year for us on a band kind of level … we were feeling a bit purposeless and a bit unsure of where everything was heading,” he says candidly.
Since emerging in 2007, British India have continued to pump out radio-friendly tunes, barely taking the time to think about their next move, let alone take a breather.
“The middle of 2011 was the first time we’d taken a break since the ‘Guillotine’ record so it was kind of the first time we’d had a minute to think. We’d finished high school and this band thing had happened for about four years and it was just such a blur. We were certainly very happy that it happened and not for a second complaining, but we kind of had to take stock and think, ‘shit, this has happened’.
“Everything had happened so naturally and so easily that this was the first time we had to say ‘how can we keep this happening?’ For the first time ever in my life I had to make some decisions, make some sort of plan, and meditate on where we all were with our lives.
“Our label had gone broke so we didn’t have any money to release another record. We had to get another record label and another place to rehearse and stuff. I think we’d just been so unused to inaction that we’d forgotten how to do nothing and I think it got us down a bit. Not for a second were we turning on each other, but we were certainly unsure about how the next record was going to come out and if there would even be a next record.”
Since signing with Liberation Music earlier this year, British India have recouped their confidence, and now have a stronger vision for the band’s future.
“That’s kind of why we signed with Liberation,” Melia says. “We’re very excited that there are people taking care of things that we probably wouldn’t be so good at taking care of ourselves, but we are wary of the things that come with that.”
Melia admits the pressure to produce another successful album still falls squarely on the band’s shoulders, but he’s quietly confident they’ve come up with the goods.
“There’s certainly pressure, that’s absolutely undeniable. If this record isn’t great it will be our last, but you know British India set out to do a job and as far as we’re concerned the job hasn’t been done. There’s a lot more we’ve got to say, a lot more songs we’ve got to write, and a lot more that we want to point out to the world. We’ll probably feel pretty disappointed in ourselves if we put out a crap record but luckily the record is actually very good, so the pressure’s off now.”
British India fans have already been given a taste of what’s to come with the release of the single ‘I Can Make You Love Me’, complete with a quirky film clip featuring a lovelorn minotaur.
“It was the kind of song that fell together, and it was so easy that we didn’t know if it was any good,” Melia says. “It was quite depressing, you know it’s in B minor and it’s got this descending thing happening so I thought I should try and make the lyrics really depressing. I was stuck for a while and then I came across this song by Roxy Music called ‘Strictly Confidential’, which has the first line ‘before I die I write this letter’… so I thought that certainly fits the bill of awful, depressing, miserable shit, so I’ll start from there.”
As for the film clip, Melia says he and the band left the creative process up to Oh Yeah Wow, the team behind Gotye’s stop-motion clip for ‘Easy Way Out’.
“I think when you first start your career you’re a bit finicky and you have to be in control of everything and know exactly what’s happening. This time we had a bit more confidence to say, ‘look, we’ll step back and you guys make the film clip and do whatever you want. We’re just four idiots from Melbourne and you’re a film crew so you guys do what you will.’ So a couple of studios came at us with ideas and it was all a bit same-same until we came across the minotaur idea which really jumped out at us because it was very strange and very unexpected.”
While ‘I Can Make You Love Me’ may channel a darker, emotive side of British India, Melia assures fans the new album, to be released early next year, will still stay true to the band’s guitar rock roots.
“I think some of the ‘in the doldrums’ kind of feeling has come through in ‘I Can Make You Love Me’,” he says, “but since then we’ve really braced ourselves and we said ‘let’s do this’. After signing with Liberation there was a real intended purpose so a lot of the other songs are really fiery as a result.
“There are so many different aspects of our sound that we tease out and explore on different songs, but I think as a cohesive unit it’s in a pretty similar vein. We’re quite interested in limiting ourselves to guitars, drums and bass and trying to just explore how interesting and dynamic we can be with the confinement of those limited sounds.
“British India are a pretty frantic band and it’s pretty DIY so it’s nice that it’s just the four of us. We don’t want to get too carried away with being settled and complacent, we really want to keep some of that youthful spontaneity.”
British India play Kings Beach Tavern, Caloundra, Friday November 9 and The Zoo Saturday November 10. ‘I Can Make You Love Me’ is out now.