Jai caught up with Melbourne rockers British India backstage during the ‘City of Wanneroo Presents’ concert last Saturday.
You recently released your single I Thought We Knew Each Other, what’s next?
Will: We’ve got this tour to support the I Thought We Knew Each Other single, we’re doing that all throughout November-December. We’re coming back to Perth in the end of December, that’s the end of the tour. After that, we are in the studio, bunkering down doing the new album. At the moment we’ve been writing furiously and are trying to write the best songs we possibly can.
And are you happy with how it’s all coming along?
W: Yeah, it’s coming along really well. I think everyone’s coming at it from really great and unique angles that we may not have necessarily had before. This album’s really about propulsion, a really fast-paced album.
So, how are you hoping to achieve that?
W: I think it’s just by getting in the studio and playing live together. Just playing as we used to when we were kids. When we first started a band it was a punch of kids learning how to play their instruments, so we’re just doing that again, we’re just getting in there and playing, having fun playing together.
So it’s a very collaborative experience, then?
W: Yeah, definitely. Every album always is, but this one’s just, the space we’ve got at the moment, there’s a really great aura in there, so it’s really great to spend time with it.
It seems like a lot of work went into the video for I Thought We Knew Each Other, how much input did you have in creating it?
W: Well Nick, our guitarist, actually made the clip, him and his brother. His brother owns a drone, so we got a lot of those great drone shots through his brother. A lot of that is just us goofing around.
Declan: We wanted to do a tribute to old Beatles and Monkees, The Kinks, 60s clips where it looks like the band are having a lot of fun. The first cut was even more like that, but it was a bit obvious.
W: It was a lot of fun to make.
D: We have fun. It’s called playing music for a reason. We play, we don’t work.
On that note; I couldn’t find a link to an interview, but I read that you appeared on Neighbours a few years back, and you said that it was a misstep because it went against what you believed in as a band?
W: I don’t know, for me it’s not necessarily a misstep, it’s just that, at the time, I think there was a lot of things around the band at the time. A lot of people were trying to put us into areas that we just weren’t, the commercial music scene, trying to get us on commercial radio with songs and a feeling that just wasn’t very British India. I guess that happened around that time, but to be on Neighbours is just a pretty funny thing. It’s not necessarily a good or a bad thing.
D: I think when we were little, there was a real sense of, ‘British India were out to destroy mainstream culture and the corny Australian cultural cringe thing’, and that’s kind of gone away, in that that stuff just exists, we let it exist, and we just run parallel to that. We don’t have to destroy it, we just have to exist in contrast to it, and that’s enough; to provide an alternative to the lowest common denominator culture.
How have you evolved from when you career first began?
W: I think it’s just natural steps. When you first start playing you’re very naive about everything. You’re naive about what you do onstage, what your guitar sounds like, how you jump around. So you’re a little bit more self-conscious. A lot of that naivety works in those early songwriting days, because you don’t realise what you’re doing and where you’re stealing your influences from. As you evolve, I think, at least for us, when we really need to work hard, and our work ethic grows, we can really work hard at our songwriting. It’s not always that it’s an innate thing for someone. There are people who are really naturally talented, but I think if you really work hard at something like songwriting, you can become better at it. It’s not something that’s just a flash in the pan, where you only get six months in your whole life where you’re only going to write your best stuff, I think you can really work at it. So, I think we’ve evolved in that sense, in that we really take our time and think about the ways that we approach songs and approach songwriting.
And do you think that mindset is going to come to the fore in what you’re producing at the moment?
W: I guess that’s yet to be seen, we don’t know. That’s the terrifying and awesome thing about being in a band; at the time of you creating it, you love it, and then you’re hating it, then you fall in love with it again. So you never know until you actually release it, because until then, it’s this thing that you’re doing in a closed, locked room. Then, all of a sudden, once it’s released it kind of disappears into the ether and you just find out whether or not it’s great. It only takes time to find out whether or not something is good, I guess.
Have you ever thought about life after the band?
W: No, there’s no life after this band. This is it.
So how did you come up with the name? Are you guys big history buffs?
W: We are big history buffs. My dad used to play a T chest bass, and he made it himself, and the bottom of it was made from a British tea company. He used to regale me with his stories of jazz gigs in the Malvern town hall where they had a thousand people jumping along to his bad jazz. That, and it was just a name that instantly stuck out. Now it’s become a thing where, if I hear the word ‘British’, it sounds weird if it doesn’t have ‘India’ next to it.