With the release of their sixth album, Forgetting the Future, and momentous thirty-two date Australian tour, Melbourne indie-rock band British India’s guitarist Nic Wilson shared some words on the challenges and triumphs of producing music. Self-described outsiders, British India have survived in a musical landscape that has not always been welcoming to what they do.
“I think British India has always been ‘the little engine that could’,” Wilson says, proud of the band’s resilience. “Rock ‘n’ roll’s not always been the most popular style of music on the radio, and we’ve survived despite that. I think that is something that makes us, us.”
The band has, under these conditions, been active since 2004. In the “small fraternity” of Australian Rock, where they’ve seen a lot of cool bands come and go, they’ve found their space and have continued to create varied output. Worried they were repeating themselves with their last album, the band rose to the challenge to push themselves “to be British India, plus ten,” as Wilson explains.
Part of this push involved moving away from the long-time producer of their previous albums, Glenn Goldsmith, to work with Holy Holy’s Oscar Dawson. “Familiarity is really the enemy of creativity,” Wilson reveals. This move has crafted a heavier sound, making an album which promises bangers, ear-worms, and a return to the intensity of their earlier stuff, while being completely different sonically.
Their latest tour promises to be different as a result of their new music which has “been translating so brilliantly on stage.” The first song released from Forgetting the Future, ‘Precious’ points to a tension the album will be exploring between the pulls of needing to change, desire to embrace the present, and hoping not to lose their roots. Wilson particularly points to the line ‘If everything could stay the same as it is right now’, as emblematic to the band’s current state: “It would be great if everything could stay like it is, but we’re always on the edge of disaster.”
The music they put together thrives on difference, and comes from a place of directness. This direct approach translates to their song-writing. “Our bigger songs were always the ones that were easier to write. Because they came out the way that they just should be. And it’s on the crappy ones where you’ve maybe over-thought it,” Wilson says, “there must be some lesson in that: just when they come out fully formed, that’s when they’re right.”
For inspiration, Wilson makes a point of “keeping his eyes and ears open to new things” from various art forms, from other bands to video games and novels. Up to a point, they can only be themselves. “At the end of the day, I think what makes British India, British India, is that someone comes in and says ‘I want to make this song sound like Fleetwood Mac’ and we can only make it like British India’s version of Fleetwood Mac… It’ll always be Dougie’s drums, and my guitar.”
Wilson has one final message for fans: “Buy an album and come to the shows, for the love of god, please. Just so we can keep this train on the track.”
When & Where: Karova Lounge, Ballarat – November 9, 170 Russell, Melbourne – November 10 & The Wool Exchange, Geelong – November 11
Release: Forgetting The Future is out now.
Written by Brianna Bullen