Back in control

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After years of uncertainty British India believe they're back on track to become the next big thing in indie rock.

The Melbourne four-piece were on a roll - releasing three albums in four years and receiving plenty of award nominations - prior to the liquidation of their label in 2010.

The band had just finished up the tour celebrating their third release, Avalanche, when everything fell apart.

Frontman Declan Melia admits the couple of years that followed were a depressing time for the band.

"We're not really huge fans of taking breaks; we tend to itch to get to work pretty quickly," he says.

"But we did take one immediately after the Avalanche tour and it kind of dogged us a little bit in that we weren't really sure about how to get back to business, we didn't have a label and we didn't have a place to rehearse.


"There were a lot of housekeeping matters that needed to be sorted out. It was actually a really depressing time for a while there."

British India's lack of direction meant there was little incentive for the band to get their fourth album together.

"We like to work and we couldn't and even when we did it was hard to find the motivation when we weren't sure under what circumstances the record was going to come out," Melia says.

Since being signed by Australian music giant Liberation in the middle of last year, things have begun to look up for British India.

Three years after the release of Avalanche, the band dropped their fourth album, Controller, on March 22.

This month they will hit the road for their national headline tour.

Following on from the Australian tour, the band has plans to spend the summer playing in Europe, before getting their "hands dirty" with a regional tour.

"The last three years were kind of marred by inactivity so it'll be great to be really busy again," Melia says.

Melia admits Liberation has had a surprisingly significant impact on the new album.

"The label did shape the record. They kind of pushed for songs and gave us confidence in songs," he says.

"I think had we not signed with Liberation it would have been very easy to make an Avalanche part two, which isn't what anyone wanted - not that it wasn't a great record, but we didn't want to repeat ourselves. If people say that Controller sounds different it's probably in no small part because we signed to them.

"I'm s'posed to say, 'It didn't make a difference we just write our songs, man,' but that's not the case."

One of the biggest influences Liberation has had on the album was with the release of the hit single I Can Make You Love Me.

The tune, which Melia claims wasn't written from personal experience, tells the rather dark tale of a jaded adolescent.

"It's more or less just about a typical story … you're at a party and the girl you want to kiss kisses someone else and you have to walk home on your own feeling dejected and thinking thoughts of revenge and suicide … those kinds of thoughts that creep into your mind when you're drunk and angry," he says.

While the band had a certain degree of confidence in the song, Melia says they never would have released it as the album's first single.

"We certainly liked it and it had a groove, but for Liberation to stand up and say that's the first single was surprising," he says.

"It's kind of an irony that it took signing to a major label for us to take risks, when normally it's the opposite."

Controller is the culmination of four years of writing, but the album itself took just six months to get it together.

Melia says signing to Liberation gave British India the encouragement they needed to get moving.

"It's like a school assignment in as much as you've got two months to do it and you tend to do it all on the last night," he says.

"As the wheels were set in motion for that it was a burst of activity and everyone was working really well together and was really enthusiastic and the album was a fantastic result of those last six months.

"It's really liberating - pardon the pun - to realise that the record was going to come out and be so great." While British India's past releases have received solid airplay, the band is yet to receive international success - something the boys are keen to change.

Melia says Controller could very well be the record that catches people's attention.

"With the three earlier records … we always thought they were going to catapult us to fame like U2 or Queen or something. We've always been proud of everything we've put out; it's not something we take lightly," he says.

"But there is this x-factor as to what connects with people so it is quite nerve-racking as to how it's received."

This year marks nearly a decade of British India - the band formed as a group of high school buddies in 2004.

The teenagers bonded over their love of bands such as At the Drive-In, Blur, Oasis and the Offspring - groups the band still recognises as core influences.

While their musical abilities may have matured in that time, Melia says their friendships haven't changed.

"We're tighter than ever really - we've always been really good friends. If we've had an argument I can't think of it," he says.

"But if you're asking if we're stuck in a state of permanent adolescence then the answer is yes."

British India

WHEN: May 3


TICKETS: ticketek.com.au