(The following article was written for ARTROCKER MAGAZINE, issue # 108, March 2011)
LAST OF THE INDEPENDENTS.
Leaving behind the warm temperatures of the approaching Melbourne summer to travel the wet, miserable and gale-lashed length of the UK, sounds to me either like a bit of seriously bad planning, or a steely determination to make a lasting impression on the UK music scene.
BRITISH INDIA have done the ‘bad planning’ thing before of course, so this tour is definitely more a case of the latter.
“It’s actually our third visit to UK” says vocalist / guitarist Declan Melia. “It all feels new though, ‘cause each time we come it takes on a more organised and focused feel.The first trip was particularly ill fated. We were only twenty back then – four kids let off the leash, and I challenge anyone of that age to travel abroad and keep it all together professionally. I’m talking about not actually making some shows and failing to apply for work visas, here…!”
Formed in 2004, the band took Australia by storm three years later with their debut album ‘Guillotine.’ A year later the follow-up (‘Thieves’) earned them their first ARIA (Australian Record Industry Association) Award nomination, and reached the nation’s Top 10 Album Chart – as indeed has their latest LP, ‘Avalanche.’
Fiercely independent, BRITISH INDIA have self-funded all their sojourns to the UK. There is no major label hovering in the background to lend support, but the lads are more than comfortable with this, thank you very much.
“We’re quite advantaged in a way, because following a big tour back home there will money in the kitty and we can’t think of a better way to waste it than coming over here and trying to make something happen. That’s our priority.”
And yet, the new album is not set for a UK release?
“ Nah” says Declan in his native drawl. “We want to grow the band completely organically. To work it the same way in UK as we do in Australia. We’re not looking to drop in a huge big debut album over here. It’s a kind of ‘grass roots’ thing back home and I think that’s why we’ve lasted so long in a world where our kind of music’s becoming increasingly disposable. We’re told that it doesn’t work like that here… that we need to be on a label and added to the playlist, here, there and wherever. Call us stubborn, but we’re so determined to work it our way!”
BRITISH INDIA’S music fits somewhere between indie and rock – it kind of sits on its own somewhere out there in ‘genre-land.’ But with so many bands milling around those two poles, what is it that makes them so special?
“We’re lucky in that we’ve never been associated with a ‘movement’ or a ‘scene’” says Declan. “If anything we’ve been at odds with ‘scenes’ our whole career, so I think that when you avoid that – or it avoids you – then you’re forced to write for a lot of different reasons than I imagine other bands do, and we’re proud of that.”