The Tea Party is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its mystical album Transmission with a cross-Canada tour that stops in Red Deer next week.
The Canadian alt-rock band’s fourth recording, made in 1997, cemented The Tea Party’s appeal with a more aggressive, keyboard-driven style.
“All of a sudden there were more electronics, we had a wider sound palette, and the lyrical content was darker,” recalled bassist/keyboardist Stuart Chatwood, who performs with The Tea Party Thursday, March 23, at the Memorial Centre.
He remembers the CD was recorded in a loft in Old Montreal that dated to the 1600s during a turbulent time. Lyricist Jeff Martin “was dealing with a lot of temptations,” which are obliquely referenced in the song Temptation.
Martin had been reading poetry by Charles Baudelaire, and about Jimmy Page’s interest in the occult.
These influences can be felt on Transmission, which makes lyrical references to the afterlife (Psychopomp), the dystopian works of George Orwell (Army Ants), and Giovanni Piranesi’s etchings of imaginary prisons (Alarum).
The album reached double platinum status in Canada and received a 1998 Juno nomination. Chatwood said this reception left band members feeling more secure — like they were not going to be a flash-in-the-pan success.
At the same time, the musicians were also feeling a little spent. Chatwood recalled,”We were left wondering, where do we go from here? We’ve already done world music, blues music, rock music, grunge music… and we don’t want to do polka…”
What followed was 1999’s Triptych, which blended all the major influences from previous albums and produced the No. 1 single, Heaven Coming Down. Chatwood said the group plans to play this and other hits, alongside songs from Transmission on this tour.
Some tunes (Gyroscope, Emerald) are so musically layered they could never be previously performed in concert. Luckily, technology now exists to do them justice in live shows, said Chatwood.
The group recorded The Ocean at the End, in 2014, and is planning to go back to the studio with original material later this year.
Meanwhile, Chatwood, Martin, and drummer Jeff Burrows, are excited about playing for fans across Canada — including Red Deer.
At a time when many music venues are closing because not enough Millennials are going to see bands, Chatwood is heartened whenever a young fan says, “My dad listened to you! I can’t believe I get to see you, too!”
He encourages everyone to support live music: “Come out and socialize — you don’t want to be part of the problem.”
For more information, please contact Black Knight Ticket Centre.