Given the recent release of his band’s fifth album and an upcoming national tour, Declan Melia, lead singer of indie-rock four-piece British India is pretty humble in his successes.
Straight from a stint at Byron Bay Bluesfest Melia is as level headed as ever, “Everyone was really hospitable and welcoming, it was enough to make us think we were of worthy standards.”
Forming at their Melbourne high school in 2004, British India have spent the last ten years making music. Despite over a decade working together, Melia feels that it is only in the last record that the band has finally found their feet.
“The most recent record is the record we’ve always wanted to make but have never had the ability—or maybe the confidence—to pull off.”
Their newest album Nothing Touches Me, has been applauded as their most musically sophisticated work to date. In contrast to the punky sounds of their early work, Nothing Touches Me maintains the band’s raw rock edge, sprinkled with soft and melodic moments, complex composition and Melia’s distinctive vocals.
According to Melia, confidence in the studio is something the band has had to learn slowly over the past decade.
“British India are incredibly slow learners. It has taken us until now to really feel comfortable with being in the studio, which is a position most bands are in by their second record.”
Melia describes British India as, “predominantly a live band,” being trained the in art of gigging around Melbourne when they first began.
“I think we have developed a great relationship with our long term audience where they trust us and allow us to stretch out and expand our depth which is a definitely a rare artist-audience relationship.”
Despite the four-pieces’ creative differences, a long history of making music together has left them well equipped for dealing with their individual artistic styles.
“We have been writing songs together for ten years so it is pretty easy for us to be honest with each other. You need to check your ego at the door. There aren’t too many screaming matches,” says Melia.
“I’ll try to have one today and get back to you.”
Despite being one of Australia’s most promising young bands with a decade of success, the notoriously tough Australian music industry is still hard on British India. Aptly, none of that seems to touch their passion.
“Everything I wanted to do when I was fifteen, I have already done. I’ve played music festivals, been on tour, and I still struggle to pay my rent,” says Melia.
“I would certainly be doing what I am doing if there was no money in it at all and I’m sure the other three guys would too.”
For him, poverty and creativity can go hand in hand, especially in this business.
“If you look at any great movement in music, money or fame has never been the motivation. Imagine the biggest bands in the world still working day-jobs, and how it would change who they are.”
So if their latest album is the record they have always wanted to make, what is next for British India?
“If I listen to Nothing Touches Me now, I hear all the things that weren’t said, and all the directions it didn’t go. If we were to leave and stop making records, I think there would be a British India shaped gap in the Australian music landscape.”
“British India still have a lot of things to say.”