From humble garage band beginnings, British India is increasingly making a name for itself in the Australian rock scene. Ahead of their UTS gig, Michael Kennedy speaks to bassist Will Drummond for the inside story.
It’s 2010 and guitarist Nic Wilson is stuck firmly on top of a 16th century English fence with an iron spike driven through his foot. Suddenly the castle gardens seem a lot less enticing and getting off the gate does not look like an option. This was not the UK tour that bassist Will Drummond had envisioned.
But it all worked out for British India; Wilson’s foot was patched up and the band went on with the tour in a romantically rock’n’roll fashion. Since then, the Australian group has taken to touring almost non-stop, playing gigs every weekend as they travel across the country. They’re even stopping by UTS to headline the orientation week music festival O’fest.
It’s only recently, however, that the band has pulled a much larger spike from their collective feet. British India are all too conscious of the trap into which many indie bands fall; prolonged, mind-numbing mediocrity. “We don’t want to fall into a trap of doing very base things. We want to write great songs and we don’t want to be safe,” Drummond tells Vertigo.
With three well received garage rock albums under their belts, the band had expressed concerns they would plateau and be lost forever in middle-time indie rock purgatory. After appearing on an episode of Neighbours, singer Declan Melia lamented what he saw to be the start of an unavoidable decline. However things changed this year when the independent group signed to their first major record label.
The band’s fourth album, Controller, was released with Liberation Records this year to much critical acclaim. Drummond talks of how the label helped them develop the album with a strong and polished sound. “We just became a bit more conscious I think about how we should approach a song and how we should put together a song instead of being so naïve and strict. We were able to have a bit more freedom about moving things around and we weren’t so strict about our opinions and more open with our writing process in this one.”
With renewed confidence, the band has continued touring to promote Controller as well as writing new songs. Drummond believes the new record deal has helped the band develop their songs in the writing stages. “That’s where the liberation thing comes back; by having them as a sort of third ear it helps us not be mediocre,” Drummond says.
For emerging bands, Drummond recommends drawing inspiration from as many places as possible, as British India did with the cyberpunk novels of William Gibson and the Belgian surrealist film Ex Drummer. However, he stresses that song writing is the most important thing. “Write songs, don’t stop writing songs. Don’t worry about not having a show this week, just write as many songs as possible because you’re going to write a million bad ones and you’re going to write a million bad ones after you’ve written a million good ones. The more songs you have the better you’ll get at it.”
British India is performing on Friday August 9 at UTS O’fest, held at Glasshouse, The Loft and Tower Building Laneway. Bombs Away, Gold Fields and Jackie Onassis are among others also performing.