Interview: Declan Melia of British India

“If the angle of the question is asking if we fight, we get on better now than we used to, not to say its completely harmonious. There are always tensions but even those tensions are always changing” – Declan Melia on his relationship with his bandmates

British India landscape colour low res

Less than a year since the release of their latest album, the explosive Forgetting The FutureBritish India are thrilled to announce they’ll be returning to stages around the country in May and June on the Midnight Homie Tour that will kick off in Bendigo on May 11 and continue through regional and metropolitan cities in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, before finishing up at The Gov in Adelaide on July 6.

With raging guitars, seriously provocative lyrics and a palpable energy that confidently struts through the track’s entirety, there is little wonder Midnight Homie has quickly become a fan favourite on the album and the live stage. It was twisted alt-rock warlord Lou Reed who once said, “My week beats your year”, but British India have upped those stakes on their new single, touting, “My night is better than your whole life.”  Armed with the precision rock stylings of the new record, plus a bulging back catalogue of Australian live favourites – think Hottest 100 dominating tracks likeVanillaI Can Make You Love Me and Suddenly – Australia’s most loved indie rockers are here to prove the snarling intention behind that arrogant claim.

We caught up with the bands singer Declan Melia to talk about the past, the present and the future of British India not without some humour as Declan eagerly answered the phone before it had a chance to ring

H2Z: Hey Declan, Andrew from Hear 2 Zen Magazine, how are you?
DM: Im really great. Im sorry I did that thing where you answer before it rings, I now come across over enthusiastic and uncool. I should have let it ring a few times, or maybe not even answered at all then ring you back after a while, I have completely ruined that angle and the rock star vibe. Maybe I can claw it back with stories of cocaine and hot tubs.

H2Z: The album has now been out for 6 months, how have you found the response to it?
DM: Its been really good. Its just like every time. When we were hunkered down in the studio, we thought it was something special, and we were really proud of how we were going. It was a sound we were looking for, for some time, and once we found it we had to ask ourselves two questions. How were people going to take it generally, and how were the British India faithful that we have established this relationship with over the 6 albums going to take it. That’s the most important thing to us.

It came out, and people really reacted well, but the real litmus test, for a band like us, is playing the songs live. An album comes out, you read some reviews, you get some feedback on facebook, twitter or wherever, but until you slide those new songs in with the other older songs, and then watch the peoples faces as they react to hearing them live, maybe a few months after the album comes out, that really is, the real litmus test. The response so far have been really great. The last few shows, songs like “Precious” and “My Love” have been the highlights of the set, so that has been really great.

 

 

H2Z: Do you think that sometimes bands spend too much time making an album for everyone except themselves?
DM: Yes, and we have done that, we have been guilty of that, and that was a very nice segue, as it was a real learning curve for this album. When it came to out last album “Nothing Touches Me”, there were a couple of songs that we thought were going to be big hits, and we thought they might be crossovers. They were really quite poppy. Maybe we should have really stepped back and thought ‘Is this really us?’, ‘Does this mean anything to us?’, ‘Are we really showcasing our emotions, or just putting it on?’. I think if we had have asked ourselves those questions, the track listing on that album may have been quite different. I think it is important, and maybe it’s the biggest crime to say this, but we react to our fans reactions. We react to pressure. We aren’t just out here doing exactly what we want, we want to please the audience. Its kind of breaking the golden rule of Indy Rock, but we really want to make something our fans like. This isn’t our first rodeo, we are six albums in, and we don’t want to be like “This is the album, go f@#k yourselves”, we wanted to do something they would like.

H2Z: This album has a very emotional vibe to it, where did that stem from? Did you feel a weight was lifted when all was said and done?
DM: That came out of the writing process, as I mentioned before with “Nothing Touches Me”, it wasn’t really ‘song-writing’ it was more ‘song-craft’ and the artform of Verse-Bridge-Chorus. With this record we wanted to get away from that. It wasn’t about having a sweet lick, melody or chorus, it was about emotion. There was a few times, and I was probably the most guilty of going down the poppy road, where I would step out of the vocal booth and Nic (Wilson – Lead Guitar), would say “ Im not quite feeling it, im not getting it in the feels, I think you are faking it”, and for a singer when you do a vocal take, and you step out with baited breath, hoping everyone will applaud. So when someone calls you out and tell you its not quite there yet, was really tough for me. To be pushed in that way, and I had never been pushed that way on any other record, many other times people were too afraid to push me further. So it was a direct change in that regard. We wanted to get deeper into it, but it was also a huge relief to get it all done. Songs like “Absolutely Disgusting” were pretty cathartic, so to put that out there, was tough, and while im glad its out there I would probably never do a song like that again.

H2Z: As you said, this is your 6th album, what do you feel, has changed within the band dynamic between album 1 and album 6?
DM: I guess its not whats changed, because everything has changed. Its always in a state of change. The relationship between the 4 of us is always in a state of flux. There have been years in the band where I was kind of a leader, then it switched to Will (Drummond – Bass), then to Nic, and then some of the guys don’t even wanna know about it. Any time you step in a room with us its different, you don’t know which version of us you will get from one day to the next. There is a few incidental changes now, like drinking more than we should because we aren’t as young as we used to be. If the angle of the question is asking if we fight, we get on better now than we used to, not to say its completely harmonious. There are always tensions but even those tensions are always changing.

H2Z: You have the tour starting in May, anything special planned for the shows?
DM: As we aren’t showcasing the album for this tour, it will be more of a greatest hits tour, doing what we feel on the night, as the shows are kind of in a state of arrested development. We play every show like we are on a small stage trying to win over 30 people. We don’t care about costume changes or lighting rigs, we just get up and do our thing, and go nuts.

H2Z: After the run, what is the plan?
DM: It’s the longest time off we have had in our career, coming up to a year now. You are always looking for new and creative ways to do things, so our bright idea was to stop. Stop British India, stop thinking about it, and see if it bubbles up inside us all and become irresistible. And I was thinking of calling the other guys, when our manager called me and said Will had set up a studio for us to write again in, and I was like “F@#king Great, this is perfect timing, lets do it”. We are going to get together and rehearse for the tour, thinking about music, getting in the headspace again. Then we will start thinking about the next project. Then we will get in the studio and I think we will probably be in there for 6 months or until we run out of money. I couldn’t tell you how its going to sound. It could be acoustic, It could be techno. Im looking forward to seeing where everyone is at when we get together. I do know that we wont release a crappy record, if we don’t feel it we just wont release it, we will just take more time off, as we wont compromise.

H2Z: Any final words for your fans and our readers?
DM: We are lucky, we know we are lucky, we enjoy the ride more now than ever before, and we really appreciate how lucky we are and all our fans.

Thanks to Declan for his time

Be sure to catch the legendary Melbourne rockers doing what they do best on a stage near you this May and June.

British India is Declan Melia (vocals and guitar), Nic Wilson (lead guitar), Will Drummond (bass) and Matt O’Gorman (drums).

FORGETTING THE FUTURE  IS OUT NOW THROUGH LIBERATION RECORDS

MIDNIGHT HOMIE SINGLE TOUR

Fri 11 May      Tap House     Bendigo, VIC     TICKETS

Sat 12 May     Pelly Bar     Frankston, VIC     TICKETS

Fri 25 May     Towradgi Beach Hotel     Wollongong, NSW     TICKETS

Sat 26 May     Narrabeen RSL      Narrabeen, NSW     TICKETS

Fri 1 June     Newport Hotel     Fremantle, WA     TICKETS

Sat 2 June     Badlands     Perth, WA     TICKETS

Fri 8 June     Sooki Lounge      Belgrave, VIC     TICKETS

Sat 9 June     Karova Lounge     Ballarat, VIC     TICKETS

Fri 15 June     170 Russell      Melbourne, VIC     TICKETS

Sat 16 June     Barwon Club Hotel     Geelong, VIC     TICKETS

Fri 22 June     Miami Tavern     Gold Coast, QLD     TICKETS

Sat 23 June     The Triffid     Brisbane, QLD     TICKETS

Fri 29 June     Cambridge Hotel      Newcastle, NSW     TICKETS

Sat 30 June     Oxford Art Factory     Sydney, NSW     TICKETS

Fri 6 July     The Gov     Adelaide, SA     TICKETS

 

 

 

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