We saw Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra perform at The British Country Music Festival at the Winter Gardens Blackpool earlier this month so we emailed them an interview. Here is what they had to say.....
Q - How long have you been writing and performing together?
I’ve been writing songs since the age of about 14, so this project started 16 years ago! I met Tom (mandolin, harmonica) and Colin (keys, accordion) about 12 years ago and started the Tea Pad Orchestra about 8 years ago!
Q - Where did the name of the band come from?
When I first started liking early country and jazz, my friend owned a record shop and I went in and asked if he had some ragtime records and he sold me a 1970s compilation of 30s jazz music called Tea Pad Songs. Tea Pad is a slang word from Harlem meaning a place where marijuana is smoked. We do not smoke marijuana. We do not take our trips on LSD.
Q - If you could invite the people who have influenced you in your music career to a dinner party, who would you invite?
On the premise that they wouldn’t turn down the offer of coming to the dinner party of a nobody, I would invite Tom Waits, Cab Calloway, George Jones, Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Etta James and Sugar Pie Desanto.
Q - If you were to take one well known song and put your own country twist on it, which song would you choose?
John Farnham - You’re The Voice. I’d keep the bagpipes in though.
Q - If you had the chance of performing anywhere in the world, Where would your dream venue be?
Of course I’m sure everyone says The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, or Red Rock Amphitheatre in Colorado, or if we can travel in time, CBGBs or The Cotton Club, in NYC.
Q - What is your favourite thing to do when you are not performing?
Buying, listening and talking about rare R&B and soul records. Clothes shopping. Going to bars in the ouseburn valley in Newcastle and seeing my friends.
Q - What excites you about the British country scene?
Daniel Meade from Glasgow, The Most Ugly Child from Nottingham. That’s about it really. They’re the only people I’ve heard doing their own great songs, with a true sense of what country music should be. I’m Afraid I’m not much of a fan of this modern stuff.
Q - Tell us the most unusual gig you've played, be it the venue or the situation you found yourselves in.
We played two nights running at a jazz theatre in Bangalore, India. Flew there and back for the two nights. Was a life experience for sure.
Q - The British country music scene is growing fast. Each artist having their own take on what country music is to them. How do feel that our music stands up against the music coming out of America at the moment?
I think they should all listen to more George Jones.
Q - Where do you see British country music in 5 years time?
Hopefully sounding more like traditional country music, but I doubt that.
Q - What do you feel is the greatest achievement of your musical career to date?
Lasting this long.
Q - Where can we find you on social media?
Facebook: Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra
Live performance photos credited to Ian Morrall (Shades Photography)