British India – Melbourne’s hardest working sons have been in the game since back in the day. I remember being just a wee grom listening to triple j when Black & White Radio was first getting airtime. I loved the high pressure guitars, the yelled vocals – the whole deal. Back to the present and the band is still ripping out the tunes and gigs in the same bold style that they’ve proudly cultivated, doing the national Midnight Homie tour in cities across the country.
The song the tour took its name from is a damn fine track, but it felt more like a diss-track than a heart-wrencher. I had a chat with Declan Melia to find out why.
“The lyrical inspiration… This is a quote not a lyric but Lou Reed once said, ‘My week beats your year’ and that kind of structured the whole ‘My friends are better than your best friends, My night is better than your whole life,’“ he explained, “It’s really just an adaptation of what Lou said.”
Some might think that this statement might come from an over-ripe ego, but Melia assures me that it’s not the case – that their confidence has been earned.
“We are pretty arrogant fellows… we wanted to make sure the other bands knew that things still stood the way they used to… Nothing’s changed. We’re still the greatest. It wasn’t any particular band that we had to remind, just the whole music scene.”
“The thing I’m most proud of is the body of work- what is it, six records? I’m immensely proud of them. I think we all are. Letting the work speak for itself is kind of where we’re at with that. I think a healthy dose of arrogance is essential to rock music. Isn’t it?”
A lot of bands on their 6th record forget their roots and turn their live shows into some capitalistic nightmare, but British India remember who they are and where they came from.
“When we started playing, rock’n’roll was really what was happening. You needed to stand out. We had to get up on stage… there was kind of a sense of us verses them with the audience. It’s like ‘alright, you guys want to ignore us but we’re gonna make it impossible for you to ignore us.’ Tiny little stages, tiny little rooms. Just getting up and going fucking insane for 45 minutes and that really hasn’t changed. On this tour there’s gonna be a lot of smaller rooms, no fuckin’ mega-stages or amazing light shows. It’s just us and guitars.’
“The setlist will be a bit more spontaneous , there will be some older tracks from the back catalogue. Initially it can be a bit daunting to play the new songs… but now it’s a bit looser.”
Along with the tour, Midnight Homie is having a fan-made video created from fan-shot footage of their own wild nights. In a world of increasing artist control, its unusual a band to let others dictate their videos but Melia thinks differently.
“We worked out pretty early on that there are some things that you’ve just got to leave to others. For example, the I Can Make You Love Me clip which has worked so well for us… we said ‘You guys make video clips – that’s what you do – so we’ll let you do your job and we’ll do ours.’ Our job is sitting around and drinking and then saying ‘good clip,’” he laughs.
“We’re kind of locked into our sound a little bit… we inevitably end up sounding like British India.” He mused at the end of our chat.
“Our fans are gonna stick by us. We’re free to do anything. Also, we just don’t care. This is kind of it for us. We’re never going to be completely ‘Gang Of Youths-massive’ and as soon as we kind of realised that it really freed us up like ‘cool, well now we can do whatever we want.’”
At first I thought it was arrogance, pure and simple, but it’s not. British India, the band I loved as a kid, is fuelled half by confidence, but half by honesty. This is a band who knows who they are – they’re in-your-face, small-venue-destroying tradesmen of tunes. A throwback to hard-working legends like Cold Chisel and AC/DC, a testament to the hard-rock that this country was built upon. British India on their Midnight Homie tour, bringing the love, sweat and beers to a venue near you.
22 June, Miami Tavern, Gold Coast
23 June, The Triffid, Brisbane
29 June, Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
30 June, Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
6 July, The Gov, Adelaide