Face to face with India Mill

India Mill

When I first heard India Mill, it was love at first chord: their edgy alternative rock ‘n’ roll just couldn’t leave me unimpressed. At  the moment the band are gearing up for the release of their full-length album ‘Under Every Sky’, so you’d better buckle up. Vocalist and bass player Alistair Smith told Rock Britain about the upcoming album, guitar music and getting into music.

– First of all, what brought you all together to start a band? How did India Mill form?

– It’s pretty much as straightforward as the fact that we were all friends who were lucky enough to be at the same school, in the same town, at the same time & into similar music. We really have been very lucky to have stuck together that long. That and the fact that we were lucky enough to be born into a time and place where nobody says you can’t be in a band. There’s a lot to be said for that.

– What’s your main ethics in making music?

– I’m not sure I quite understand what you mean in regards to ethics but for the most part we think that it’s really important to never patronise your audience or try to pull the wool over their eyes in any way. Honesty goes a long way but so does humour. Similarly with themes, inwards and upwards is better in terms of any line of attack as opposed to domestic put-downs.

– Your sound is based on guitars. What, do you think, is the main attraction of guitar-based rock music? What’s your secret to making guitar rock sound great?

– I would’ve thought that it’s as simple as being in love with your instrument, your band and your songs and taking it from there. That said, we wouldn’t ever rule out using any instrument as long as it makes the song or idea work, it’s more just that, as a gigging unit, guitars are much more portable which is what our music needs to be at the level we’re at in terms of gigging.

– You’ve got a full-length album ‘Under Every Sky’ ready and are planning to release it later in 2014. Could you introduce this album to music fans? What can they expect from the record?

– They can expect to hear 12 songs over a 40 minute period & beyond that it’s all down to them! Seriously though, because we’re so close to it, it becomes very hard to be able to describe how it sounds. Ultimately we feel that it’s a very atmospheric album and we like to feel that there is a great sense of space within it. We wanted to stay away from a number of sounds that are quite dominant at the minute, particularly in the mastering process. We’ve been in studios before when recording EPs and it’s been clear that many studios at the minute are second guessing what they think the industry wants. Whilst that’s understandable, we don’t really feel that it’s a healthy premise on which to start making art as it becomes to prescriptive. That’s not that it then becomes a license to kill but it’s important to retain your own identity and we feel that’s something we’ve done with this album. That was helped by the very close relationship that we have with Mark Jones which we feel is reflected in the album in that it sounds like a group of people coming together at the right time.

Another point was that we wanted to make an album as opposed to a collection of singles to be downloaded individually. We appreciate that people are free to do whatever they like with their music, but we’re concerned about the fact that many people are saying that the album as an artform is dead. Personally, I don’t think it is, amongst other things, I think it’s more a case of marketing trends coupled with the fact that the industry has lost so much money over the last 5-10 years and consequently people are now pushed by circumstance to focus on shorter releases. Whilst this makes sense and we’re more than happy for people to either just download the songs they like or the album as a whole, we nonetheless wanted to make an album with a sound and feeling that ran throughout each of the songs and that reflected how we felt at a given time.

– What was working at the album with Mark Jones like?

– Wonderful. Great fun. Mark is a great musician as well as producer and has much more of an impressive CV than he would have you believe. We’re all very big fans of Daniel Lanois and many of the albums that he’s produced such as the Emmylou Harris Wrecking Ball album along with Bob Dylan’s Oh Mercy and we very much leaned towards that sound in making the album. We also wanted to push towards the Jeff Lynne sound with the Travelling Wilburys with songs like In Motion. All very AOR! It was the most fulfilling process we’ve ever been through because we felt very free to just try things out with him because of the level of mutual respect for each other which we feel helped a lot in making the album.

Also, Mark’s studio is in his home which is near to ours which greatly added to everyone’s ease and comfort in making the album. It’s a very professional setup and I think illustrates the fact that leather settees, polished floors and pool tables don’t make great records, great teams do.

– What’s your approach to your live shows?

– To be as honest and as entertaining as we can. There’s really not much more to it than that I’m afraid. We’re only in the position to spend time on it as opposed to money but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

– What can you be found doing before a live show? Have you got any pre-show rituals or habits?

– Tuning our instruments?! Not really, we’re a fairly sober, boring bunch. Personally I feel that rituals in regards to performance, sports, etc are about making a rod for your own back in that once you miss it then you’ll be on edge and that’s what’s more likely to make you mess up rather than some superstitious guff.

– What bands are your main music influences and what kind of influence have they had on you?

– We all love The Beatles, as many bands do, but then we all have individual influences. Anything that we recognise to be human I guess is the best way that I could put it.

– What was your acquaintance with music like?

– If I understand the question right then I’m guessing this relates to our first encounter with music in the sense that it inspired us to play? Each of us all had different encounter, as we all do, but the effects tended to be similar which was what brought us together. As it does with many bands, I guess.

– What’s your biggest dream concerning India Mill?

– Our biggest dream would be that we could create a vision of world peace and unconditional love and sell it for excessive amounts of money! This is a joke, of course. It’s not a big one, we’d like to be able to do this at a level whereby we can earn an income that allows us to raise and support the families we want and in a way that doesn’t really compromise us too much as artists. Bands like Rush are in an amazing situation in that they have a loyal following that allows them to still record and perform at high levels after so long being together. That’s something worthwhile aiming towards, I would say, because it’s a career as a whole rather than just a move or a posture over a short period of time which shows that the music comes before anything else which makes it seem all the more sincere. That gets lost sometimes, which is easy to do.

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  1. […] “…a very professional setup and I think illustrates the fact that leather settees, polished floors and pool tables don’t make great records, great teams do.” Alistair Smith, India Mill […]



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