Huddled outside Mojo on a nippy November evening, resting on an amp conducting an interview with three members of Liverpool five-piece THE TEA STREET BAND, the surroundings couldn’t be further away from the gorgeous Balearic feel their minimalistic dance sounds exude. What with the Siberian climate, singer and guitarist Tim kindly offers his parka like a true gent (and to think the masses say the art of chivalry is dead) before he, James (Keys/Synth) and Dominic (Drums) offer some insight into the elusive quintet.
Having just played for Dave Monks Presents at Liverpool Music Week to a sparse but appreciative crowd, the trio are enthusiastic despite the turnout belying the band’s talent for combining a strong keyboard hook, an assiduous drumbeat and haunting vocals. When Tim rests his voice, their instrumentals are equally impressive and any muso will opportunely tell you of their admiration for any band who does instrumental so well with such meticulousness.
Taking their name because it “rolls off the tongue nicely” and not as a pun on the E Street Band as one would initially think, in spite of them being avid Springsteen fans, the five-piece have all known each other “for a decade” according to James, before Tim adds “our families are from the same area, we’ve all grown up in North Liverpool, and if you play an instrument and you’re from North Liverpool you’re a rarity.” True. But The Tea Street Band isn’t your regular run of the mill guitar band with a Merseybeat haircut. Their progressive house with earthy bass lines comes as a refreshing change in a music scene increasingly dominated by “pretty boys in leather jackets,” but despite their self-deprecating nature concerning their apparel (strictly jeans and trainies) the band has gigs at Mathew Street and Creamfields safely under their belt and can now add Liverpool Music Week to that deservedly growing list.
Their debut single Push The Feeling On was released on iTunes during the summer, through Centric, a London-based house label and James explains “we were doing Creamfields and a few other decent gigs and we thought lets get something out first for people to listen to straight away.” The song itself is over five minutes of quietly euphoric electronic bliss with resonant vocals, and the band has an EP on the way which they’re currently recording that will capture a “synthetic” sound. Dom reveals that “we’ve all been into music since our early teens and when you’ve been into music for so long you don’t just stay on one genre so our influences come from each other,” James adding that “you go through all your classic influences; The Who, The Beatles, but they go without saying,” before admitting they do have a penchant for “nasty old-school scouse house.”
Describing their writing process as organic, James informs that “there isn’t a principal songwriter. We all give a little. Someone comes up with a bass line or a chord sequence and we’ll just play it out from that and then a couple of weeks down the line we’ve got a fully blown song.” Tim agrees: “we try to evolve our sound, all these bands are just doing the same thing that everyone’s been doing for the past 10, 15 years. It’s nothing different, nothing fresh. It’s boring playing E major dead loud. I don’t wanna be playing stuff I can already play, I wanna be challenging myself.” Their music certainly isn’t a motley cacophony of guitars, instead The Tea Street Band offer an altogether more innovative, sublime sound that retains its unpretentiousness with the odd clang of a cowbell and their comfort on stage.
Keen Bido-readers, the band believe that we, along with Dave Monks and Harvest Sun “are the only people in the city going out and finding things to review not just waiting for bands to send them CDs. They’re giving everyone a chance and getting on with it,” though Tim confides without hesitation that he’s “not sure about the pink paper.” Can’t please them all, can we? The quintet will be playing The Masque as part of the Electric Reindeer Christmas Party, being promoted by the latter of the three media musketeers of the Liverpool music scene mentioned above, Harvest Sun. With tickets available from Probe and with The Tea Street Band having teamed up with Harvest Sun previously to play the Williamson Tunnels, this surely is a gig worth dodging your office Christmas party for; you’d only do something you’d regret anyway.