by Scott Roos
photos by Marc Lepage Photography
30 years is a long time. That may be an obvious statement but, in the music industry, it’s nothing short of incredible for a group to last, and have the staying power that many of the great "CanRock" bands have had since first spawning into our country’s collective consciousness in the early 90's. Thanks to this “Big Shiny 90’s” era of Canadian musical mayhem, many bands/artists like Our Lady Peace, Moist, Sloan, The Odds, Barenaked Ladies, Big Wreck, Matthew Good, I Mother Earth and The Tea Party to name a few, all seem to still be hanging around playing shows and even, in some cases, recording music that has heaping portions of artistic merit. These acts still have things to say and their fans, who have been with them since the beginning, still want to hear it.
“That era in the 90's truly was like a golden era for Canadian music when you look at what was happening at the time and bands that came up and came up together. Us and The Tea Party being prime examples,” I Mother Earth drummer Christian Tanna told NSMZ in a recent telephone interview
The two bands, I Mother Earth (IME) and The Tea Party, have recently embarked on a multi-date, cross Canada tour together. Several of the dates along the way have been in front of sellout and near capacity crowds. Tanna, for one, along with his bandmates have been awestruck thus far by the responses they’ve been getting.
“Our fans connected to our music at a certain time in their lives and (now) they're out there in those crowds singing every song. All Ed (Edwin singer of IME) has to do is hold a mic up and the crowd takes it and it's pretty gratifying that after all this time they're singing those songs and showing up like this.”
IME had not gone on a full tour since prior to the pandemic. They had been toiling away on new material in the studio but figured it was high time they got out to perform on a proper tour again (don't worry, the band has a plan to finish this studio stuff with a release sometime in 2024). That was when the plan was hatched to add a tour mate to the fun. The Tea Party, believe it or not, had never toured with IME before making the double billing intriguing.
“It's going really well. We couldn't be happier with this whole thing…. the crowds have been wild. We're kinda looking at each other sometimes going 'what the hell is going on here?'” added Tanna.
As an added bonus, there’s also a V.I.P. experience which places both bands on stage together for a unique “jam” melding the middle eastern vibes of The Tea Party with the distinctive, Santana-esque Latin grooves of IME.
“I'm not really not a huge fan of a VIP experience being a handshake and a photo give me a 100 bucks you know? There's something off about that to me,” Tanna explained, “So (instead) both full bands are on stage kind of acoustically just kinda noodling away.”
It’s a “seat of the pants style” as both bands, right up until the night before the first show of the tour, had no idea what they were going to play or what format these informal jams would take.
"We got a boardroom, a conference room in the hotel, and we all brought our guitars and cajons and shakers and we sat down with zero ideas and then we started to kinda noodling around and came up with a solid handful that night before the tour. It's pretty funny but that's the way it goes,” Tanna added.
Collectively, then, it’s made for a refreshingly spontaneous V.I.P. experience for the fans on this tour. And, it’s also an approach that IME has taken when it’s come to forging their own setlists for each night . Whilst there are those “can’t leave the building without playing” tracks, the band has also inserted some deep cuts from city to city to keep things fresh not only for themselves but for the fans as well. Of course, their free wheeling jam nature is also evident for the 75 minutes they are on stage.
“Live we really stretch things out. You know one night the song is in the next night it's out. There's just some things we just kind of go off on. It's kinda how we keep ourselves entertained. It's fun because you're a little bit on edge with how something might go and then when you pull it off it's really gratifying. So we're just kind of injecting our own fun into this whole thing and hopefully people are digging it too,” Tanna said.
Christian’s brother Jag, who in many circles of the Canadian music intelligentsia would be considered a criminally underrated guitarist, has also been given his moments to shine. In Christian’s eyes, Jag has been playing better than ever as a result of the band enabling him to be front and centre most nights.
“We kind of push him forward and say 'go' and he enjoys it too. He's playing better than ever right now. When you watch him play and listen to him, he's doing stuff he wasn't doing before and it really drags the rest of us along…. The rest of us kind of really feed off of it. When he's going well it really pushes the rest of us.”
The Tea Party and IME will be playing Saskatoon’s TCU place on Friday, November 10th. Tickets are still available and can be purchased here along with the added V.I.P. experience for an additional cost. NSMZ will be present in Saskatoon and provide a full review of the festivities in the days after the show. See below for more dates on this awesome tour.