Proudly Canadian: The Tea Party
The Tea Party is a Canadian rock band with blues, progressive rock, Indian and Middle Eastern influences, dubbed "Moroccan roll" by the media. Active throughout the 1990s and up until 2005, the band re-formed in 2011. The Tea Party released eight albums on EMI Music Canada, selling 1.6 million records worldwide, and achieving a No. 1 Canadian single "Heaven Coming Down" in 1999.
The Tea Party toured Canada on twenty-one occasions and Australia on twelve. In November 2002, the band toured Canada with symphony orchestras reinterpreting a decade's worth of shared songwriting. Breaking up in 2005 due to creative differences, band members nevertheless re-united in 2011 to play several Canadian tour dates during the summer. The band decided to continue after the tour and has now re-formed. The band has since released a double live album, recorded on their 2012 tour of Australia. Video shot during this tour was released as a Live DVD/Blu-ray, "The Tea Party: Live From Australia" in 2013. The Tea Party has also been writing and recording new original material since Fall 2012, and their latest album, The Ocean at the End, was released in September 2014.
Early years (1990–1995)
The Tea Party was formed in 1990 by Jeff Martin, Stuart Chatwood and Jeff Burrows after a marathon jam session at the Cherry Beach Rehearsal Studios in Toronto. Each member had previously played together during their teenage years in a number of different bands in Windsor, Ontario, where they were originally from. They had decided to name their new group The Tea Party after the infamous hash sessions of famous Beat generation poets Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.
The Tea Party released their eponymous debut album in 1991, distributing it through their own label Eternal Discs. The album drew influences from psychedelic rock and blues, and was produced by Martin; album production was something Martin would continue with for all of The Tea Party's albums, as a way of giving the band complete artistic control. In 1993 The Tea Party signed to EMI Music Canada and released their first major label recording, Splendor Solis. The band employed open tunings and goblet drums (Dumbek) to create Indian-style sounds, something they continued to employ throughout their career, while continuing in a blues influenced style. In 1994 the album released in Australia, with the single "Save Me" launching the band's career in the country. The band gained the support of national radio station Triple J, enabling the band's first tour, with "Save Me" becoming a staple of their set lists.
Further developing The Tea Party's sound in 1995, The Edges of Twilight was recorded with an array of Indian and Middle-eastern instrumentation. "Sister Awake", the third single from the album, defines what the band set out to do, combining three-piece rock compositions with music from the world. "Sister Awake" is an acoustically based arrangement on 12-string guitar, sitar, sarod, harmonium and goblet drums. The Edges of Twilight is The Tea Party's most commercially successful album; with sales exceeding 270,000 units, the album is certified double platinum in Canada and platinum in Australia.
Upon returning from successful tours in Canada, Europe and Australia in 1996, The Tea Party recorded Alhambra, an enhanced CD which features acoustic re-recordings of songs from The Edges of Twilight, and followed its release with a brief tour of Canada called "Alhambra Acoustic and Eclectic". English folk musician Roy Harper appeared on The Edges of Twilight reciting a poem and on Alhambra providing vocals for the song "Time".
Transmission released in 1997 saw The Tea Party's first foray into electronica with a sampled world music foundation and thrust. Transmission is a collection of aggressive songs influenced by upheavals around the band; the firing of their management and the feeling of a lack of support from their record company. Epitomising the feelings were the first single "Temptation" and the album's title song.
Triptych followed in 1999, the first single "Heaven Coming Down" rose to No. 1 on Canadian radio. The Tea Party's music took on a more orchestral sound, maturing from the blues base. Live at the Enmore Theatre, the band's first live album was released through Australian radio station Triple J during the band's tour for Triptych.
Later years (2000–2005)
The band released a singles compilation called Tangents: The Tea Party Collection in 2000, and then a DVD compilation of music videos (which Martin remixed in surround sound) called Illuminations in 2001. was recorded at Metalworks Studios in Mississauga, Ontario. The Tea Party released The Interzone Mantras later in 2001, and in November 2002 joined symphony orchestras across Canada in adapting their live show. The Interzone Mantras was recorded at Metalworks Studios in Mississauga, Ontario.
Seven Circles, the band's final album, was released in 2004. Both The Interzone Mantras and Seven Circles saw the band return to their earlier sound with maturity.
In October 2005 The Tea Party disbanded due to creative differences, with Martin abruptly announcing he was beginning a solo career. Afterward Chatwood stated on the band's forum "that Jeff Burrows and myself are sincerely sorry for the way this was handled. As far as Jeff Burrows and myself were concerned, the band was taking an extended break."
In 2006 Chatwood continued to compose the Prince of Persia video game soundtracks for Ubisoft Montreal.
Burrows joined Rush's Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, and other Canadian musicians as drummer in the one-off project the Big Dirty Band as well as presenting the midday shift on The Rock, a radio station in Windsor. In 2008 Burrows announced that he, Edwin, Mike Turner and Amir Epstein would form the band Crash Karma, recording their debut album in early 2009.
Martin moved to Ireland and recorded his debut solo album Exile and the Kingdom, which was released in Canada and Australia in 2006. He has toured parts of Europe, Canada and Australia, and released two live albums, Live in Brisbane 2006 and Live in Dublin, in November 2006 and May 2007, respectively. In August 2008, Martin announced the formation of his new band, The Armada. In 2010, The Armada broke up. Jeff Martin founded a new band called Jeff Martin 777 with Jay Cortez on bass and Malcolm Clark on drums. Their debut album The Ground Cries Out was released on March 1 in Canada and made it to No. 51 in the Canadian Albums Chart.
On 12 April 2011, an official Facebook page was launched with a biography section that closed with "The band is scheduled to play a select number of dates in 2011. No other info was available at this time." The following day, the local radio station K106.3 announced the Sarnia Bayfest lineup including The Tea Party, which was later confirmed by drummer Jeff Burrows on his radio show on 13 April. Burrows further stated that a Canadian summer tour was in the works. The band played several shows in Canada over that summer.
On 6 August 2011, during a show in Lévis, the band had implied that they were going to be back together permanently. Martin said "We are the Tea Party and we're here to stay. And we're never going away again." In December of that year, during a show at the Métropolis in Montreal, the band announced that they would hopefully record a new album in 2012 and that there would be no more break up; Martin confirmed earlier implications by stating that "The Tea Party is back for good".
On 22 February 2013 The Tea Party announced on its website that "The band have convened in Australia to write and record the next chapter in the Tea Party saga. Stay tuned for more updates." On 19 March 2014 The Tea Party announced via its Facebook page that the title of their forthcoming album will be The Ocean at the End. It was officially released in Canada on 8 September 2014.
The Tea Party are still an active band with solid dates booked throughout 2017. For further information visit www.theteaparty.com