The Tea Party: “The music that we make is very unique…no one has filled that void”

In 2005 Canadian ‘Moroccan Roll’ pioneers The Tea Party called it a day after 15 years, 7 studio albums, over 1.6 million records sales and 12 Australian tours.

Leading man Jeff Martin relocated to Perth and toured Australia as a solo performer and with his side projects the Armada and 777. Bassist Stuart Chatwood composed scores for video games and drummer Jeff Burrows worked as a radio presenter while continuing to record music with other artists.

After six years apart, sensing a ground swell of support from fans, The Tea Party regrouped to make a new album and this July are embarking on a huge Australian tour – the tickets for which go on sale today.

FasterLouder sat down with the group in a Melbourne hotel hours before they snuck on stage to play a secret show at Cherry Bar. We talked reunions, new music, surviving grunge and why the world needs more Tea Party.

You’re playing Cherry bar tonight, how has the rehearsal process been? Jeff [Martin] lives in Perth, Stuart and Jeff live in Canada.

Jeff Burrows: Well, this is it so far!

Jeff Martin: This is our rehearsal, right now.

Is tonight a live rehearsal?

JM: It’s all about telepathy these days, between the three of us. Actually what are we going to do tonight?

Stuart Chatwood: We’re looking forward to being surprised [laughs].

JB: If we were doing anything new obviously there would be a lot of rehearsing going on but like Jeff says ‘telepathy’, and this is ingrained as a percussionist and drummer. It’s nothing for me to do; it’s more about Jeff and his vocals.

JM: But in saying that, what did we used to do, like acoustically?

JB: We’ve got a radio thing to do in the afternoon so there’s some time to prepare there. That’s basically about it, but again it’s more about the reintroduction of the band and essentially letting Australia know we’re back.

SC: We haven’t done any songs in so long. Last summer we got together for the first time in six years so it’s just interesting to see how the songs have evolved.

JM: What I remember is the first rehearsals that we had back in June last year, before we reconvened, there was a lot of nervous tension in the room and all that stuff but the moment we started to play The River it was just like ‘Oh okay, I remember why I play in this band, I remember how good this feels’. It all just comes flooding back.

There’s an Australian band called Cold Chisel and FasterLouder interviewed them recently, their singer said after the first hour of rehearsal he remembered why they loved playing together and why they broke up. Have you had a similar feeling at all?

SC: [Laughs] Not really, the funny and ironic thing about the rehearsals that we had, was that we started with something like The River and not one song did we go through from top to bottom, we just started and [ Stuart clicks] it came to us.

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