Comprising Jeff Martin (singer-songwriter, guitarist), Stuart Chatwood (bass, keyboards) and Jeff Burrows (drums, percussion) – were a multi-platinum mainstay of the Canadian music scene throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium. The Indian and Middle Eastern-influenced rock trio spawned eight LPs and several chart-topping hits (including Save Me, Sister Awake and the and Heaven Coming Down) before abruptly calling it quits in 2005. However, thanks to a recent string of successful reunion concerts and renewed international attention – given the prevalence of the Tea Party name in U.S. politics – Stuart Chatwood reveals that band is slowly getting reacquainted on stage, with the hopes of recording new material in the future.
‘No politics… Just rock and roll’ is emblazoned across your homepage – is that the band’s response to recent offers to buy your teaparty.com URL?
My wife came up with that, not to really address the Tea Party movement in the States, but more referring to internal band politics. Now it comes off as meaning: ‘we are not the political movement… Just a rock and roll band.’
How do you feel about the name becoming so prevalent lately?
Someone asked me if that was why we got back together, but it isn’t. A serious offer to buy the URL came through while we were in the middle of our tour. An offer like that would enable us to continue on as a band though. In the ’80s, Neil Young sang ‘This Note’s for You,’ and the idea of lending music to commercial enterprises was frowned upon. Now times have changed: indie bands that live and die by their credibility have no problem lending music to Lacoste and iTunes. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it because it enables them to continue on as artists.
Do you think you’ll sell?
Ideally, I’d like to sell our URL but I’d like it to be to someone left-leaning because that’s where my politics lie. If we did sell it to someone who’s not aligned with our politics, then I think of Malcolm McLaren in The Great Rock and Roll Swindleand that sentiment of ‘take the filthy buggers for all they’re worth’ (laughs). A lot of fans have been encouraging us to do it, but then there are fans who are like, ‘If you sell your name to anyone, I’m going to throw your CDs in the garbage.
There’s that quote: ‘…those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.’ Would they rather we sell our music to General Motors who’d put it in a commercial endorsing a car that will pollute the earth or simply change our domain name a little bit and move on?
What have you discussed in terms of future music projects?
We’re doing this tour and working on the relationship first. We have another tour planned of Australia at some point in the first half of 2012 and then hopefully after that we can start recording and see if we’re in the right mindset. I don’t want to jump the gun and announce anything. We’re not at that stage yet. Some people say, ‘Hurry up and take advantage of the hype around your name,’ but I’d rather wait and make a quality record, because the next one will be scrutinized more than ever.
Does it feel like you’re starting from square one?
Well…it feels fresh. We stepped on the stage in the summer in Montreal and the crowd was just overpowering. It was like, ‘Wow, I miss this…’ We just concentrated on playing really well and the politics – there’s that word again (laughs) – just don’t enter the equation.
So your outlook has changed.
Yeah, we’re more mature now. We don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of us anymore and that gives us the liberty on stage to be ourselves and to perform better.
And are the old songs still holding up live?
Oh yeah. We have a great catalog of songs. Our goal was always to put on concerts that we’d love going to and to make records that we’d love to listen to, that were timeless and avoided a lot of the trends. Thank God we didn’t embrace grunge music (laughs).
After time apart, what will you offer one another that you couldn’t before?
We’re less selfish. We all have kids now (laughs). We’ll bring experience from our diverse music projects and our experiences of having worked with other people. Before, we kept to ourselves for our entire 15-year career with EMI; we didn’t work with other artists at all really, and we produced ourselves. We weren’t exposed to other ways of working..
The Tea Party are on the road now with their No Politics…Just Rock And Roll tour, with stops in Kitchener, London, Toronto, Montreal and Hamilton. For dates, please visit www.teaparty.com.
*Originally published under ‘Interviews’ on MyTelus.com.