Get ready to rock and orchestrate with The Tea Party and the International Symphony Orchestra as they take the stage in Windsor and Sarnia for two unforgettable shows. On February 3rd, The Tea Party will be gracing the stage at Caesars Windsor, and on February 4th, they will be performing in Sarnia’s Imperial Theatre. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the band reinterpret their music with a unique blend of rock and symphony. Don’t miss out on this electrifying performance, as tickets for the Sarnia show were gone in just four hours after they went on sale. Limited tickets remain for the Caesars Windsor show. Join 519 Magazine’s Maximus Reid as he sits down with The Tea Party’s bass player, Stuart Chatwood, to discuss the upcoming shows and more in this exclusive interview.
You guys have two huge shows coming up; one at Caesar’s Windsor on Feb.3rd and a show at the Imperial Theatre in Sarnia Feb.4th., both with the International Orchestra backing you up. How does The Tea Party prepare for such a massive event, with all three members residing in three different time zones?
We’re fortunate that this is probably the 15th or 16th time we’ve been able to do this. Not many bands get to play with a full orchestra. We started back in 2002 and you know that was when we were really scratching our heads at what to do. Luckily, our music lends itself very nicely to being orchestrated because there are lots of overdubs that we can’t really cover when we play the show live. The music comes alive in the way that it was recorded when we were able to play with many more players. We did the first show in 2002. We did a tour across Canada and we did sporadic shows here and there when invited.
Then we took it down to Australia in 2017. That’s the last time we played with an orchestra and that was probably the best one so far. It was at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall and the orchestra down there is one of the best orchestras in the southern hemisphere. Just incredible players and just an incredible night. Melbourne itself is one of our top cities in the world for our following. It was 2,700 people sold out and tickets for that were 165 Australian dollars. It wasn’t cheap. That’s the nice thing about these shows coming up – Liuna! Unity and Sterling Ridge Group somehow helped subsidize the cost one way or another so that people are paying only a portion of what the show actually costs to put on.
It’s for a great cause. You guys are working together with some great people here. It’s a special concert to benefit Transition to Betterness Programs and Essential Frontline Workers.
Yeah, that’s something we haven’t talked about enough in the promotion because a lot of people aren’t aware of it. There’s a large block of tickets provided to the frontline workers as a way of saying thank you for all they have done.
It’s incredible what you guys do for our community in the 519. Being from Lasalle, I see your efforts, often with drummer Jeff Burrows living in town. His generosity and commitment to this area and its people doesn’t go unnoticed. He puts his heart and soul into charities like Transition to Betterness, Harmony in Action and a lot of different programs throughout the city. Jeff has four shows coming up after these magnificent performances are done, working with local songbirds The Twisted Sisters, where they will be raising money for Harmony in Action, a local non-profit that runs a day program for adults with disabilities. It’s also presented by LiUNA!625 at Joe Schmoe’s Feb.16th, Feb.23rd, March 2nd, and March 9th.
With your music already being so magical and larger than life, the symphony is really going to bring this to a whole new level. How does this feel up on that stage?
I know Jeff Burrows will be playing like it’s a rock show. It’s not going to be some held back intensity, the same can be said for Jeff Martin. With the orchestration, I’m kind of lucky because I would handle a lot of the orchestrated parts. The gig is a lot more fun for me because I can relax a bit and perhaps play bass on a few songs that I previously had to cover the keyboard parts for.
How cool is that going to be for you to be able to sit back and do that?
For us, first and foremost, just having the music played by an orchestra is phenomenal. You turn around and, there are 40, 50 people playing the songs that you wrote in the basement. There are also a lot of our fans that have seen the band 30 or 40 times that have never heard a version that is reminiscent of the original recording, so it’s fun to cover the parts there.
Growing up in the Windsor area, I’ve been lucky enough to see you guys in grimy little bars to grand ballrooms as well as Caesars Windsor, but this is something really special, even monumental to your hometown fans.
I think the closest was Toronto, so we’re thrilled to be able to bring it to our hometown and to bring it to such a great venue too. Just the sound system at the Caesars is just incredible. It’s one of the top sound systems in Canada.
With you guys coming home, is this a short trip? Are you guys going to have some time to get together in a studio?
I don’t know what we are doing exactly yet. I don’t know what’s planned to be perfectly honest. I know our sound checks are a little later in the day. I don’t know what the other two guys have planned rehearsing during the days as a band. It’s kind of like a gathering of the different churches, you know. Where we are able to meet in the same country and agree on things and map out our future. We’re not the greatest communicators when it comes to the Internet and deciding things over the phone. We really appreciate being in the same room and being able to fire ideas back and forth. We still haven’t played Australia since COVID happened, and there’s plans afoot to do something really interesting for the next record. I can’t elaborate on that until we have more firm plans in place.
I’m glad to hear that you guys are all going to be in a few rooms together for the next little bit. What have you been up to as of late?
I just got assigned more video game music, so I may be able to do some of that when I’m in Windsor as well. That’s kind of what I’ve been doing when I’m not doing The Tea Party stuff.
Darkest Dungeon 2 from Red Hook Studios is the Sequel to the Darkest Dungeon Franchise. I know you did all the music scores on that. Is there something new that you’re working on right now?
We’re just finishing that game up. The Early Access version came out in October of 2021, where people can download, play the game, and make changes and suggestions that we can implement in the game. The final version is scheduled to come out in quarter two, so maybe in May. I think it’s a date they were tossing around. Typically, you don’t want to ship something nowadays until it’s got the polish on it, because like many things in life, people look at reviews and if the reviews aren’t great then they are not going to play the game or they’re not going to listen to the record or they’re not going to read the book or they’re not going to stream the TV show, right? Word of mouth has grown leaps and bounds.
Do you collaborate with a lot of other artists on the video game stuff, or is that all basically just you?
If I need a solo vocalist, I’ll use a solo vocalist, where budgeting permits. In the past, with my Prince of Persia scores, it was recorded with the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra at the Clint Eastwood Scoring Stage down in LA and with a 63 piece orchestra, so that’s quite an honor to have that kind of budget. My current game is recorded mostly by myself. It’s samples that are embellished through live instruments. I think we always need to have a few live instruments just to bring the humanity out of it.
With your knowledge of video game scoring, are you the one that transfers all this Tea Party music into the score we will hear at these next two shows?
Actually, I do want to mention Marc Ouellette. Spelt just like the street in Windsor. Mark and I work together in Montreal. He’s an incredible composer and arranger. I believe he was the president of SOCAN, which is the songwriters organization in Canada. He worked with us just to come up with the arrangements, so, it was really fun to sit with him and sing things out loud and he’s got his pencil and he’s writing it down. Then he takes that home and embellishes it. He wrote an original piece inspired by our music that I’m not sure where it’s going to lie in the set. Ever since then, he’s been the conductor for most of our shows.
We’re very excited to work with The International Symphony, and a different conductor for these two shows though. It’s a very unique symphony, being cross border with Sarnia and Port Huron. With a mix of the players coming from those two areas, as well as Detroit and Windsor. We’re excited to meet everybody at our first soundcheck.
With these giant shows coming up on Friday and Saturday with this full Orchestra, we want to know, who is your favorite composer?
I respect a lot of composers. I know it’s not in Vogue, so I could mention Russians, but right now, Rimsky Korsakov is a guy that wrote a book about orchestrating that he has some great compositions from the late 1890s, I’m guessing, don’t quote me on this, but maybe you can Wikipedia. (I did check it out and he is correct, considered one of “The Five”) But then there’s just there’s such emotion in their music I find. So yeah, Rimsky Korsakov is one of the guys I like. I mean, the modern guys, I mean, you have to respect Hans Zimmer just for what he was able to do. And you look at the guy in the video killed the radio star video. And I believe he’s playing keyboards on that one. And he went from there to being the most well-known composer, next to perhaps John Williams. John Williams work ethic, his background makes him very loyal to the players. For example, like a lot of scores, you’ll bring in different sections to record because it’s the most efficient way to work. Then John Williams will have the whole orchestra getting paid, sitting there while they’re perhaps re-recording flute parts. I mean, as a player, maybe you could spend your time better, but at least you’re getting a nice paycheck to go around.
You’re busy with video game scores and Burrows busy with all his wonderful charity work, what is Jeff Martin up to while here in his native homeland?
He’s come all the way from Australia. So, he’s added a few solo shows before and after our shows in Windsor and Sarnia. I don’t know all the particulars of his dates.
Yes, he has shows on Jan.26th at Corona Theatre in Montreal, Jan 27th at Market Hall in Peterborough, Jan 28th at Neat Coffee Shop in Burnstown, Feb 9th at Maxwell’s in Waterloo and very cool show Feb 10th at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern in downtown Toronto.
That sounds about right, and you can check out his socials for more info, I’m sure.
I’ve met and sat down with you a few times and you’ve always got a glass of wine with you.
I’d like to know what kind of wine you drink?
Typically, good wine. Yeah. And it can be from any region, really. I mean, we basically got schooled on wine in Australia. But obviously, you know, France, Italy, being, you know, the premier regions in the world, you know, it’s a whole other level there. Wines costing $2,500 a bottle. We’re not drinking anything like that, but we have befriended quite a few Australian winemakers and you know it’s just nice to know these craftspeople that put so much passion and love into their wines. Sarah crow at ERA in Australia is a good example. And that’s a wine that’s not overly ripened by the sun, perhaps. Some of the Shiraz in Australia that they’re famous for. It’s more of a European style. So that’s probably one of my favorites.
Sounds tasty for sure.
I have a question that came into 519 Magazine when I told a few people that I might be talking to you this week. This one comes in from Marlene Jean up in Montreal. She wanted to know if there’s ever another instrument that you would want to learn how to play that you don’t already?
I do have a drum kit at home, and I’ve been joking with Jeff Burrows that he should play bass on Heaven Coming Down and I’ll play drums. We won’t tell Jeff Martin. He would just start the songs and then he’ll notice something’s different. And then he would turn around and see Burrows on Bass and have a freak out. The whole audience will see it happening. So, the audience will be in on it. That’s something we talked about. If I have the time, I’d like to get better at drums.
For more on The Tea Party, visit www.teaparty.com.