We sat down with The Tea Party who are touring Australia to celebrate their seminal 1997 album Transmission.
In 1997, Steve Jobs returned to Apple, the first Harry Potter book was published and Pat Rafter won his first US Open. And in Australia, fans of award-winning and genre-defying “Moroccan-Roll” trio, The Tea Party were celebrating the release of the band’s third studio album Transmission. It was an instant hit and now, twenty years later, the boys are touring Australia showcasing that seminal album in its entirety.
They’ve just performed in Perth and are heading to other capital cities now.
We spoke to drummer Jeff Burrows to get the lowdown.
TBS: You guys have an affinity with Australian audiences, releasing two live DVDs, a live album recorded here and many many tours to Oz over the years. What makes this place so special to you?
Australia quickly became a second home for us in the early 90s. Our music was met with affection and very passionate audiences. Like many other countries, we started a residency both in and around Sydney and Melbourne for our first two tours, then between word-of-mouth about the live show and the special attention given to us by Triple J, it really helped us grow here. It’s become special over the years for us because we’ve made so many great friends and lasting memories. Our singer loved Australia so much he now resides in your beautiful country!
TBS: How has the writing process changed from your first record to how to approach music in 2017? Do you find technology has changed the way you write as a band?
Writing music in the band has always been a collaborative effort but I think the idea of jamming ideas has almost come full circle since the beginnings of our career. Technology does play a role in a sense that it’s quicker and easier to accomplish some of those perfect sounds, but we are pretty old-fashioned when it comes to the entire process. We are currently holed up in Jeff’s studio on the east coast of Australia between tour dates and are creating as we speak.
TBS: As a big Jethro Tull fan, can we have a brief chat about how you ended up getting Ian Anderson on your 2014 record The Ocean at the End?
As youngsters, we all grew up across from Detroit City, and it was widely considered the home of rock ‘n’ roll. We were very well-versed in all of Jethro Tull’s music and every other classic rock artist at that time. In the early and mid 90s we did a lot of touring in the UK, and one night Ian along with his bandmates came out to a small pub to catch a live set, apparently, he fell in love with the band and began listening to our second album The Edges of Twilight quite often.
To this day, he still plays Tea Party music before his show begins. With that in mind, we were looking for a special part for flute or woodwind, when we decided why don’t we reach out to Ian and ask if he would be involved… he said yes, and it was as simple as that.
TBS: You’re playing Transmission in its entirety on this tour. Has your approach to performing it live changed from when it was first released back in 1997?
Well, the fact that we haven’t played the entire album ever until this 20th anniversary, a lot has changed! Because of technology, a lot of the sounds are much easier to accomplish in a live setting that Stuart can take care of behind the keyboards. But rest assured, even 20 years later the album sounds incredibly fresh, and is an experience to both play and listen to.
TBS: What can audiences expect from this upcoming Transmission Australian tour?
From the reviews I’ve read, the audience can expect to be blown away… lol. At the beginning of the show in Canada, we thought it would be a good idea to play the album from beginning to end, but after three shows we reworked the set just to give a different experience and live flow to that particular set. Expect to hear every single song, and I expect to hear subtle nuances, and changes of direction when it comes to the show, because we’ve always been about that element of surprise.
For more information, visit their website: https://www.teaparty.com
We have one double pass to give away for The Tea Party’s performance at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney on Friday 10 November. The first person to name one of the band members will win the prize, ready to feel your grip at the Box Office. All you have to do is forward your answers in email form to firstname.lastname@example.org and the best of luck!