Volume 93, Issue 2

Friday, May 21, 1999


The Phantom Menace is phucking phantastic

The line up: A first hand account

Galactic technology, talk and toys

Party's place in the music world is their cup of tea

Midsummer's is a mid-size success

Ron Sexsmith gets fresh

Party's place in the music world is their cup of tea

Photo by Margaret Malandruccolo
THE TEA PARTY: DRESSED IN BLACK FOR A CHANGE AND STILL LOOKING FOR THE SIX FINGERED MAN. The notoriously dark trio plays the Drink at 10 p.m. Thursday, on tour for their latest album, Triptych.

By Aaron Wherry

Gazette Staff

After listening to drummer Jeff Burrows, it becomes glaringly clear The Tea Party is a band confident and content with their place in the world. After extensive touring and a few critically acclaimed albums, the band seem to realize it's their Tea Party and they'll smile if they want to.

From the beginning, Burrows seems an oddity in the world of rock music. Exuding a certain casualness unusual to rock stars, the percussionist begins to try and explain the band's recent mood swing.

"We're in a better state of mind than we were during Transmission. I think it comes out sounding a little happier because of the melody structure and the fact that Jeff [Martin] pushed himself to sing a lot more this time, rather than scream," Burrows explains with a laugh.

But the Windsor native is quick to explain that despite the slight change in attitudes, die-hard fans will not be disappointed with the band's latest release, entitled Triptych.

"It's still very much a rock album and we're still very much a rock band. Maybe the only rock band left in Canada," Burrows states confidently.

Making sure not to criticize his counterparts, Burrows explains he means no offense to Canadian bands who also fall under the label of "rock." He merely suggests bands like Our Lady Peace, 54-40 and The Tragically Hip have drifted in the direction of pop and away from the old school definition of hard rock.

Despite the debate concerning rock versus pop, Burrows and his mates seem little, if at all, worried about fitting into a groove in the broken record which represents the current state of popular music.

"The components are still The Tea Party but we're constantly evolving. We're always trying to push ourselves to the next level – always making sure we don't imitate or duplicate anything from our previous albums," Burrows remarks. "We're always trying to expand ourselves and produce something people might not expect based on the last album we did."

For Burrows and his bandmates, expectations have not pigeon-holed their sound but rather given their pigeon whole new skies to explore.

"The best thing about being in this band is that we've put ourselves in the position where people expect us to do the unexpected," Burrows says. "It's a great position to be in because we can kind of set our own path and follow it."

This setting of their own standards, along with lead singer/guitarist Jeff Martin's affection for Middle Eastern and electronic rock influences, have given critics enough fodder to create one label for the Tea Party – "musically intelligent." Despite the seemingly flattering implications of this tag, Burrows is none too happy to accept it.

"What a stupid thing to say. I don't understand it. I know Jeff [Martin] is very good at what he does – put any stringed instrument in front of him, give him 24 hours and he'll probably figure it out. But what does that phrase mean? That you can't rock out to the Tea Party? That's obviously not true if you go to any of the shows. I guess they're trying to say a lot with few words and it gets misconstrued as something else," Burrows relates.

Just as they are pleased with themselves, Burrows and the Tea Party seem happy to acknowledge the work of other bands as well.

"Just because another band is going standard three chord rock tunes, but have amazing hooks, you don't think they could do exactly what we do? That's bullshit. They could, they just choose not to."

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department:

Copyright The Gazette 1999