British India will be working on new material in 2020.
A new era has dawned for Aussie rock favourites British India.
In 2018, the band bade farewell to founding guitarist Nic Wilson bringing about a monumental shift in the genetic make-up of British India.
“I’ve been doing this since I was 16 and every time I’ve been onstage, I’ve looked to my right and there’s Nic Wilson,” frontman Declan Melia says.
“Then suddenly we do a tour and I look to my right and there’s a different guy there. It feels different, as you can imagine.”
“We need to get back to four guys playing in a room, playing music and inventing things as they come.” - Declan Melia
The departure of Nic signalled uncertain times for one of Australia’s pre-eminent indie rock bands; so much of their sound and onstage energy had been fuelled by Declan and Nic’s guitar dynamic.
In 2019, the band welcomed new guitarist Jack Tosi and introduced him to audiences by way of a tour. “At the end of last year, we did our first shows back without Nic Wilson, which were daunting,” Declan admits.
“It was an uncertain time immediately before the tour but then something clicked, and everyone enjoyed the tour at the end of last year, so we thought we'd go back to the places we missed and finish the tour off. Everyone was so eager and hungry to keep going we decided to make it a proper tour.”
This year, British India play their first shows in Western Australia in 15 months and it will be the first time WA audiences will see the band in action with Jack on guitar duties.
“When we play with Jack, I think Matt [O’Gorman, drummer] and Will [Drummond, bassist] react to him by playing tighter, so it’s a lot more steely, more compressed and much tighter. It’s a wound spring playing with Jack,” Declan says.
“British India fans can come and check it out. No one will come away disappointed, I’m talking about punters and us. It’s not to say Jack makes us play better, but he makes us play differently. It’s a crazy thing.”
British India’s WA tour also includes the Days Of Summer one-day series hitting Denmark and Ravenswood, featuring alongside great Aussie acts such as Jebediah and Gyroscope, two bands Declan says have been very influential in British India’s development.
“Jebediah, ‘Slightly Odway’ [1997 debut album], that was like the f…ing Bible to us at the start of high school, absolutely,” Declan says. “I can sing every lyric from that album without backing. I admire those guys so much, that record especially.
“Gyroscope as well, they’re so f…ing fierce. We’ve always felt a really rich sense of competition for us with them. The first track on ‘Are You Involved?’, ‘Don’t Look Now But I Think I’m Sweating Blood’, I remember hearing that when we were making [2008 album] ‘Thieves’ and I’m like, ‘f..., we gotta make something that sounds as fast, powerful and as mental as this – we came up with ‘This Dance Is Loaded’, which is a different beast but it was a real sense of inspiration.”
British India released their last album ‘Forgetting The Future’ in 2017 and Declan says getting back into the studio to work on new material is among his priorities for this year.
For their new music, Declan wants to step back from the overly technological approach they had taken to their two previous records and return to the live essence of British India.
“The last two records 'Forgetting The Future' and 'Nothing Touches Me', a lot of [the songs] were written on computer; a lot of it was loops where we'd start with a drum beat and layer it up, a lot of the music wasn't written live,” he explains.
“We were really inspired by bands like Gorillaz who take scraps and put songs together, mash things up to get interesting outcomes, and I’m so unbelievably f...ing bored of that.
“I went to the studio last year – Nic and Will told me to come to the studio because they had something they were working on; they wanted help with the lyrics and maybe have me help sing some melodies.
“I remember sitting in the studio listening to what they'd done, and it was a great song, but I just thought 'I f…ing hate this'. I had absolutely no inspiration whatsoever – nothing to say, nothing to write about.”
scenestr WA Feb 2020 edition
It’s a welcome return for the members of British India and their fans alike as the band get back on the road and begin to write this next chapter of their career.
For Declan, the goal now is to focus on the live element of British India, both onstage and in the studio. “What I want to do this year at the very least is get into a studio or a rehearsal space with the dudes and play some live music, improvise,” he says.
“I get the feeling that writing songs in that piecemeal, tacked-together way is done and we need to get back to four guys playing in a room, playing music and inventing things as they come.
“Not jigsawing it, letting it be a full, messy beast, so that's what I’m excited to do. When we'll do that is hard to know – getting everyone together is as hard as it’s ever been. When the time is right, I think we'll come together to do that and I’m looking forward to it.”
British India 2020 Tour Dates
Thu 20 Feb - Prince Of Wales Hotel (Bunbury) Fri 21 Feb - The Stirling Arms Hotel (Perth) Sat 22 Feb - Badlands Bar (Perth) Sun 23 Feb - Indian Ocean Hotel (Perth) Fri 23 Feb - Dunsborough Tavern (WA) Sat 29 Feb - Days Of Summer @ Castelli Estate (Denmark, WA) Sun 1 Mar - Days Of Summer @ The Ravenswood (Ravenswood, WA)