NEIL CONDRON interviews THE TEA STREET BAND for The Anfield Wrap.
WHILE the rain poured down on most of the country this summer, a solitary ray of Balearic sunshine was warming parts of Liverpool and bringing some of its favourite sons back out from the shade.
Formed from the ashes of much-missed rabble rousers The Maybes, The Tea Street Band have been clinically building up momentum since their first release, Push the Feeling On, playing carefully selected shows with the odd pant-shittingly big one thrown in.
With a new EP about to be pressed and Saturday’s appearance at the joint Don’t Buy The Sun and James McVey memorial concert to prepare for, guitarist/vocalist Timo Tierney and keyboardist James Albertina took time out to chat with TAW about their past, their plans, the dance influence in their music and, of course, a seismic year in the history of LFC.
Thanks for chatting to TAW lads. To get us started, can you tell us a little bit about how the band came to be?
Timo Tierney (TT): The band came about when the band we used to be in folded and we all wanted to carry on playing together. James and I had been writing songs together and we all knew there was a gap in the market for a dance-orientated band; we wanted to challenge ourselves musically. So we set off on the adventure with a game plan. I have full belief in every one of us and getting Nico (Nick Otaegui, the original bassist with The Maybes) back involved and to be in the room together again felt so right!
James Albertina (JA): It was really just a good point for everyone musically to get together as after we started practising we found out we all had our own dance-type songs we’d be sitting on while being in other bands that wouldn’t be as inclined to play that type of tune. We all grew up together and listened to the same music so it wasn’t a great surprise to find we all liked writing upbeat dance music and that we could play these songs as a band.
You’re soon to be playing at the joint Don’t Buy The Sun and James McVey memorial concert at The Olympia. What does it mean to you to be playing at this night?
TT: It means a lot to be asked as it shows were doing the right things. It’s a massive gig in my home ground The Olympia, as I am L7 (though The Olympia may be L6?). The Sun is a dirty piece of shit and to show support to the family of James McVey will be nice. Liverpool’s a city where people get together and no-one should ever have to speak alone; we should be a city with one voice all shouting at the same time, and something like this makes me love this city even more.
JA: To playing alongside a few great names [Mick Jones, The Farm, John Power and James Dean Bradfield are among those performing] as well is an honour and for such a worthy cause, it just makes sense. Murdoch’s lies are fortunately coming to light, so his time is near hopefully and we can all get behind these causes to show we are united in our support for them.
The Maybes, of whom four of the band were members, were supportive of the Spirit of Shankly supporters’ union’s campaign to oust Hicks and Gillett. What are your memories of the SOS nights?
TT: I’d say two of us were supportive of the ousting of Hicks and Gillett the others were two Blues and the uniclubber! But it was a great night. The only memory I have was playing ‘Promise’ [title track from The Maybes album Olympia; 12 minutes of prog disco that closed the band’s sets and bizarrely became the opening music to t20 cricket matches!] a song that basically has taken on a cult status among Reds and it is a belter. We took the roof off the gaff the first time we played, as people weren’t expecting what we gave and they loved it. Also my mate Cunni was there that night and met his wife to be – oh, and my dad was shouting to Carragher as if he knew him. My dad loves LFC; he doesn’t let his love show nowadays but that night he let loose and left me mam sat down. Is right, Tim Snr!
Hicks and Gillett are now out, with the Fenway Sports Group now at the controls. What have you made of their stewardship thus far? Would you have any advice for them for the future?
TT: It’s been great to see them two tools gone and some Yank with a massive cigar come in. The cigar means he’s a cool fella, not a stress head – and his missus is gorgeous. We’ve signed some great players and let some shite go. I like the mentality of it all; we are once again a proud club with proud staff who all want to go in the same direction: forward. My advice would be to give Dalglish a run out in the League Cup. I know he’d score.
JA: I think it’s early doors and I don’t want to gush but it looks good doesn’t it? John Wayne and John Wayne Jnr have rode out of town and been replaced by what seems to be some very shrewd businessmen that understand the values associated to LFC and are willing to listen to the most important factor of any club, the supporters. They have a good business model in place and, although it may seem a little alien, I believe the Moneyball idea will bear fruit in a few years. As for Kenny, what can be said about The King that already hasn’t been said in the past three decades? Great signings, playing a nice expansive game and actually getting results. Suarez looks silly, Downing is looking very sharp along with Enrique. Good buys for the team and the future. It looks good after so many years of jarg bullshittery from Wayne and Wayne Jnr.
What do you think are realistic expectations for Liverpool fans at the start of this season? What causes are there for optimism and/or pessimism?
TT: Realistically I think we should take every game as it comes and no one in the league can beat us if we perform to our strengths with the belief that the manager and other staff will give the players. I am an optimist when it comes toLiverpool– let’s win everything!
JA: Top four has to be a realistic aim. City and United are looking daft early doors, Chelski are gonna be up there and us. Arsenal are gonna need a year or two to sort their side out and probably Spurs – I despise Harry ‘I’ll lick the media’s balls anytime they come calling’ Redknapp. Anything better than fourth is gonna be a fantastic year. Getting this young team blooded in the Champions League next year so they are ready for the challenge will be important for the growth of the majority of new signings who haven’t experienced playing inEurope’s top competition.
You’ve mentioned the influence of ‘90s euphoria’ in your music – euphoria was an elusive feeling at Anfield in that decade! What is it about 90s music that you love so much, and are there any artists who stood out for you?
TT: That was me who quoted 90’s euphoria, maybe a silly slip of the tongue as now we keep getting asked about it. Have I pigeonholed us too soon? Have I shite! My sister used to bring me cassettes from The State and I used to swap copies with people in school. Then I’d go to 3 Beat when it was by Wade Smith onMathew Streetand get flyers to make covers for my cassettes. All the songs on those tapes – I have no idea who sung any of them. But they were all boss, dead euphoric. Good choruses – no one wants to listen to loads of words that some lad like me has got to say about girls breaking my heart – they just want to hear choruses about all the girls I’ve loved for a night. I may add that I haven’t written about many of them… ha ha! Either of them!
JA: When I was a teenager we used to go to scatty parties where there would be 10-20 heads standing off necking 20/20 listening to all sorts of Cream/State/Paradox tapes. Although as you grow older you may diversify in your musical taste, those experiences of good times stick in your head.
Looking to the present and the future, is there anyone making music in Liverpool you’d recommend people take a look at? What about further afield?
TT: There is always good music inLiverpool. But I don’t get to go and watch ‘up and coming’ acts. Places like The Zanzibar will have 20 bands on a week; surely there are a few decent ones in there. There’s a band called The Bruised Arcade, obviously named after The Pale Fountains’ song, so they’re worth a look. Also Bird are good, they’ve got a few good songs and a very nice female singer and I usually dislike female singers. Mick Head’s still The Don in this city though.
What are your thoughts on Liverpool’s nightlife at the moment? I know some of the band were regular visitors to the Metropolitan, which is now sadly no more.
TT: My nights out have suffered due to the close of the Met, it was the epicentre for everyone. Cheap ale and a roof terrace; it’s such a shame that it’s shut. If anyone’s got the dough and trusts me, buy it for me please. Dave Barton was a great fella to go and have a drink with and all the bar staff were sound. We had a spell of rehearsing upstairs in there so we were there when the door was finally shut. A bad day. I didn’t like all of the pictures that were up in there though and I was glad that we never had a picture up in there! Drinking while a ten-foot picture of John Power looked at yer… ooh!
What’s coming next for The Tea Street Band? Looking further ahead, have you set any particular goals that you’d like to achieve?
TT: Goals would be to do an album that has songs that will be played on the radio. But my main thing would be to get around some of Europe playing my guitar – that’s one thing I’d love. Maybe Japan because I’d like to eat with chopsticks and sing karaoke. I’d like to think that we can take this to the next level – I know the reality of the music business and it’s hard graft, but we always used to say ‘no’ now I just want to say ‘yes’! It’s a lot more positive and I feel very fucking positive at the minute. Onwards and upwards in unison!
Thanks to Neil and The Tea Street Band.