Canadian progressive rock gods The Tea Party are back in Australia for their first full tour in almost a decade, following a couple of promo gigs earlier this year. While they warmed up for their first performances in Melbourne this week, Loud shot some questions over to bassist Stuart Chatwood and he fired the answers right back…

First of all, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. How did it feel coming back to Australia as The Tea Party once again after so long?
It’s all about love at this point. We love returning to Australia and the fans are loving this upcoming tour. The passion is reciprocated top to bottom.

You announced during the promo shows that the full tour was already selling strongly. Knowing the popularity that the band has maintained here, what was your reaction to that, having been away for so long?
We were just blown away knowing that people hadn’t forgotten us and our following seems stronger than ever.

It wasn’t all that long ago when it seemed a reunion would be out of the question. What was the process of getting back on speaking terms and what was it like jamming together again for the first time?
We let the music do the talking. There are plenty of things to still sort out on the relationship front, but when we look back on the catalog of music that we have, we have to put things to the side and do things for the sake of the songs.

When I interviewed Jeff Martin before the first Canadian shows last year, the reunion was still only expected to be one tour. At what point did it become obvious that The Tea Party was back for good?
Well I don’t know if I’d say we’re back for good, as I think that is a statement that we can make when a new record comes out. We really are still feeling things out between us.

A few months ago The Tea Party teamed up with to fund a double live album to be recorded during this tour. At last check the pledges are now way past what was needed, so what can fans expect? Will you be recording the whole tour or particular shows?
We were left speechless when we made our budget in under five days.  This is a great project where we get to make the things that ourselves and the fans want. They wanted vinyl, so we’re making vinyl. As for the recording, we plan on recording as many of the shows as possible. I know the first few shows will be recorded for sure.

To me the full emotion of your music was always best experienced live. Considering how many shows the band played in the past, why has there never been a live album until now?
It was always tough to gauge the interest in a live record. We were always on EMI/Capitol records, and there was a resistance to live records as they traditionally didn’t sell as well as studio records. This pledge campaign helps open the door, and I hope we can ask the fans if they want us to record a live acoustic record with all our exotic instruments in the future.

Due to the unfortunate way I worded part of my review of your Sydney show, I felt the ire of The Tea Party’s legions recently, and judging by the reaction to the reunion, the live album and pretty much everything the band has done in the last year, there seems to be no boundary to their loyalty. After a seven year gap, fans of many other bands would just move on to something else. So what do you think inspires this in fans of The Tea Party?
I think we attract passionate people that are serious about their music. I think they’re drawn to the respect that we treat our music and in turn our fans. We don’t believe in pandering, and we do believe that being serious about making music is not a bad thing. Sorry you had to feel the wrath.

Occasionally a new band will emerge that is clearly influenced by The Tea Party. Have you taken much notice of this yourself and has their been an examples that have particularly impressed? What are your thoughts on rock music in this decade and how does The Tea Party fit in?
I love the fact that we are a musical sign post and a reference point. It’s hard for a band to stake a claim and do something that hasn’t been done before, so for that, I am very proud. Where do we fit in? Well I think the whole world can hear the Tea Party now without much effort, so I think if we’re playing world music inspired rock music, the future looks very bright.

Thanks so much for your time. All the best with the shows and I look forward to seeing you once again. Is there anything further you would like to say to the fans?
All three of us just want to thanks the fans from the bottom of our hearts for their continued passion towards our group.

The Tea Party tours Australia this month:
14/7: Palais, Melbourne VIC (SOLD OUT)
15/7: HiFi Bar, Melbourne VIC
17/4: Tivoli, Brisbane QLD (SOLD OUT)
21/7: Hordern Pavilion, Sydney NSW
24/7: Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide SA
26/7: Metro City, Perth WA