British india

British India are poised to release album number five at a time in their careers where they’re clearly invested for the long haul. Their second on a major label, Nothing Touches Me sees the band find greater confidence in their songwriting talents, to write slower, beautiful songs thus resulting in a more considered and consuming record.

The foursome travelled to Berlin last year to start recording the album with Simon “Berkfinger” Berckelman from Philadelphia Grand Jury. ‘We had admired what he’d done with Art vs. Science (as producer) and some other projects so working with him was definitely part of the reason to do it in Germany,’ says frontman Declan Melia. ‘That being said, being in Berlin with your three best mates was a pretty attractive proposition.’

The band has previously stated numerous times that they would prefer to be on the road than in the studio, but it seems that they’re growing to embrace the recording process. However that didn’t exactly result in a taking-it-too-seriously approach. ‘I remember our producer asking ‘is anyone sober enough to do a backing vocal?’ and I put my hand up and said ‘yeah as long as I don’t have to get it in one take’.’ The album doesn’t feel like one that’s been thrown together and it’s hard to imagine the band were drinking and fooling around in the studio when recording it, that’s not the produced effort on the record at all.

On the recording process this time Declan says it was pretty straight forward but it did take a while to eventuate. ‘We got back from Berlin and knew what we wanted, headed to Sing Sing Studios here (in Melbourne) and had to work really hard to get it where we wanted. It was a fun process, it just too a little longer because we knew how good it could be.’

The singer has no trouble answering when asked the usually dreaded question of summarising the new album to existing and potential fans. ‘It’s a pretty intense record, every character portrayed is really happy or completely fucked. There’s a lot of songs about girls, about break ups and they just really represent the two passionate ends of the emotional spectrum.

‘I also see it as a love letter to the bands we really respect as I can hear our influences on it. ‘Spider Chords’ reminds me of The Shins and I can hear Brand New on a track.’ After a pause and a bit of a laugh he reassess and says, ‘It’s a cool record and you should buy it’.

While there is hooks galore and catchy crowd pleasers that already slot straight into their live sets such as the lead single ‘Wrong Direction’, there’s more slow or multi-faceted songs where the pace changes, the feeling is an overall layered one. The success of gold selling single ‘I Can Make You Love Me’ from Controller made the band realise they didn’t just have to write short fast loud tracks. ‘The reaction we had to ‘ICMYLM’ and ‘Plastic Souvenirs’ was affirming of that. We were fearful of what our fans would think. ‘Swimming in Winter’ and ‘Crystals’ would’ve sounded horrendous if we tried them on our first album but we feel now we can experiment a bit more.

Music fans are fickle at the best of times, so how much does the fans expectations or limitations of the band weigh on the members? ‘We do worry about it, and that’s the truth despite the whole idea of indie rock not caring about it at all. We just decided “let’s fucking do it full on”, let’s get the sentiment of the song across in the best possible way, whether it’s slow or fast. It keeps it from being disingenuous.’

British India announced yet another mammoth Australian album launch tour to support the album. It begs the question do they ever get sick of touring? Do the hangovers kick you around more these days approaching 30? ‘It’s only becoming a problem now. We love touring because no two tours are the same, just as no two shows are the same and that keeps it interesting. Just as hearing fans reactions to new songs live is. But yeah, the hangovers catch up with you more now.’

The band are taking recording more seriously than ever, partly to break the tag of being a band that’s better live than on recordings. They’re still wanting to keep that great live reputation, so do they rehearse really hard to make their shows so memorable? ‘A thousand times no! We don’t even really rehearse or knuckle down so it keeps the energy alive when we play onstage.’

You can catch the band on tour right around the country in April and May with Tired Lion and Grenadiers. And don’t worry they’re not gonna pull a Radiohead and shy away from their beloved hits. ‘At the end of the day the audience has paid to be there, we’ll play what they wanna hear.’
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