Jeff Burrows: The Tea Party Interview

[This comes via Chris Mihas, writing for Citizen Edge. – AC]

The Tea Party are re-releasing their iconic album Edges of Twilight (my personal favourite from their catalogue) on September 4th. I chatted with Jeff Burrows (drummer of the Tea Party) and discussed the re-release and the upcoming tour

C.M. You and the band are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Edges of Twilight by re-releasing the album on September 4th. Congratulations on reaching this milestone. What’s the experience been like working on the reissue of Edges of Twilight?

J.B. It’s pretty cool. It’s interesting to see where we were so long ago. When you have nothing but music and nothing else and your only worry is making rent, and you live and die by the various thread of music you’re creating, there’s something there that, it’s intangible, but it’s there. And you can’t get that once you start having a family or big people problems. It’s like the last hope of being an old ridiculous teenager. And you get that from that album. It’s funny, no one had anything to do but music back then. Zero commitments. You were married to the music. The experience has been cool and nostalgic. Re-creating it, is something completely different. It’s very unique and fresh and it’s kinda cool that the record label is going out and trying to find b-sides and dig up old material and contact the BBC to get a recording we did with Bruce Dickinson. Some of the demos were good enough to release. 

C.M. The first time I heard of The Tea Party was in 1993 when I saw the video for “The River”. I immediately was drawn to that song. I went out and bought Splendor Solis and instantly became a fan. When it came time to record your follow up album to Splendor Solis, what was your thought behind it. Did you have a lot of material ready to be recorded or did you basically start from scratch? How did Edges of Twilight start?

J.B. It started when we were on the road. When we were touring the first album, that’s when we started seeing the growth. And that was the beautiful thing about being a young rock band in Canada in the early 90’s. From our friends from I Mother Earth, Our Lady Peace and Moist, everybody kinda watched everyone grow at the same time. At one point we were playing songs on television that weren’t recorded or weren’t on an album yet and that’s the crazy shit we would do back then. Even if the record label wanted us to play stuff off the album. We were 3/4 of the way written into the sophomore L.P. and then by the time we got home, everyone took a week or two off. It was interesting cause with this record, we had these ideas incorporating all these string and percussion instruments but we didn’t have the funds to do it, and the means to record it. Once we got the budget for the album and EMI wanted us to go to L.A. to record the album (no argument there) we had almost laid it out. We had pieced it out quite well. A lot of pre-production on paper, as to how things are going to roll out and how we want to build this part. Like on “Sister Awake” for example, in the very beginning there’s a percussion ensemble that I put together. When were demoing that, I said “why are we even gonna try doing this right now”? We know what we want to do. I need Timpane’s. I need Doumbek’s. I need Djembe’s. I want all of this stuff.” Once we were there, that’s when the songs became a full piece.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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