Interviews — 28 August 2010
Interview: Declan Melia of British India

Interview by : Alexa Prinno

BRITISH INDIA’s third album “Avalanche”, released earlier this year, not only debuted in the Top 10 ARIA Awards for 2010, but has catapulted the band into an ever growing demand of headlining shows and Music Festivals.

Alexa: This is ’s second time back to Perth in only a few months, have you gotten to know any of the local supporting bands?

Declan: Yeah we have, we’re good friends with a band called The Reserves, who I really can’t say enough good about, cause they’re fabulous young lads, and we always enjoy catching up with them.  I sincerely hope they will be supporting us this time, but I’m not sure, because I’m terribly unorganised and haven’t even researched my own shows

Alexa: I remember them supporting you at The Secret Show in Scarborough actually. Then the next day you played at GTM in Bunbury, how was that?

Declan: I was actually quite drunk on stage that day. I’m starting to sound like a broken record! We were pretty hung-over and tired, but we kicked on for the whole day and had a lot of fun. I really enjoyed being on stage at that show, because when you’re at a festival you’ve only got about half an hour to get used to it right, but by this one we were fine. That’s when we decided to reward ourselves with a few vodka redbulls before we went on, so we had a good time.

Alexa: I was going to ask ‘what’s life like on the road for but I think that pretty much sums it up!

Declan: Well it seems very ‘in’ to say that touring is very unglamorous and it’s all about boys sweating in a van. It’s not like that for us, we stay in pretty nice hotels, and we fly whenever we can.  Then we have a few drinks of course.

Alexa: Have you had any crazy experiences with over enthusiastic fans? Any underwear on stage?

Declan: We’ve had some underwear which was clearly thrown by a boy. Um, we’ve had some boobs. But they never do it to the band, its girls who get up on stage and do it to the audience. Especially in the small towns, and it’s not like the boys are even yelling for it.

Alexa: Do you have any groupies?

Declan: Um, not really. I mean we have girls that come to a lot of the shows. If I sleep with anyone it’s unlikely that I recognised her from the crowd.  Otherwise it would feel like it was happening for the wrong reasons, and just opportunistic.

Alexa: What would you be doing if you weren’t in a band?

Declan: Well, I was studying Law for a while, and Matt was studying Business, but you could be forgiven for thinking your life was railroaded. The truth is we never thought the band would be at that level where it would take 100% of our time, and be lucrative enough to be our only source of income.

Alexa: How does being in a successful band compare to how you thought it would be like?

Declan: It’s completely different. I don’t even think we really did dream about it, we didn’t even really contemplate it. We just liked The Strokes, The Beatles and The Stones, and we thought it would be fun for a while, and get the attention of some local girls. It was just something to do. What we realised after that was, our interests in highbrow music, like I was always into At The Drive In, Morrissey, The Smiths, and Nicks into Film and Literature. I think that was a big revelation, that’s when it stopped becoming a hobby and something we were really interested in.

Alexa: Are you writing any new songs at the moment?

Declan: Yeah we are. We kind of write constantly, during touring and around touring for about a year or so, and then we just pick the best ten songs from the year.

Alexa: I’m assuming you write most of the lyrics?

Declan: No, actually that’s a misconception. The reason I write a lot of the lyrics is because they’re left to the last minute. Matt wrote a lot of the lyrics to ‘This Dance is Loaded’ (Thieves), Will wrote a lot of the lyrics to ‘Beneath the Satellite’ (Avalanche). So yeah, it comes from all directions.

Alexa: When you write the songs, do you write them about personal experiences?

Declan: Um, not really. It’s kind of tempered by personal experience, like if I’m particularly pissed off and that’s the kind of mood that I’m gonna draw the lyrics from. But I tend to draw them more from- it’s not a case of ‘Art imitating Life’, but ‘Art imitating Art.’ I’ll steal ideas from songs I’ve heard, or books I’ve read or films I’ve seen.

Alexa: Why have you resisted signing to a label?

Declan:  There’s a few reasons, but it’s different for each member. I’m not philosophically opposed to labels, as long as good music is being written I’m not opposed to people making money.  Nick doesn’t like labels, how they operate. He doesn’t like going to after parties with a lot of standing around.

Alexa:  What do you think about the music industry at the moment? I hear a lot of bands saying it’s dead.

Declan: Well, you’ve got to be the change you want. It’s rich for bands to say ‘there’s no scene, no one’s coming to our gigs’, but the most important thing is to make music that’s good enough to attract people.  The days where someone comes to your gig and the next thing you’re famous, are just gone. The music industry has had a long time to catch up to the fact that it’s not like that anymore, and it’s failed to do so.

Alexa: So you guys are going to the UK later this year?

Declan: Yeah quite soon actually, end of September. It’s pretty much the first thing we do once we finish these few shows.

Alexa: How would you compare the industry in the UK to the industry here?

Declan: It’s not that different, it’s just failing in the same way but on a bigger scale. When we first went and had a few shows, I noticed it was the same. Average music, shit bands, too much hype. I think they could do with a bit of British India.  We don’t need the hard machine to get our point across to people, it’s very much imbedded in the music and imbedded in the personalities of the people in the band. The thing about the UK is, every time it gets a little better. We’re going all over this time; Leeds, Liverpool even Scotland.

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