As The Tea Street Band have release details of their new album and announce a date at District as part of a UK tour, Getintothis’ Lewis Ridley spoke to Nick Otaegui about Frequency and more.
In 2002, a band surfaced from the streets of Anfield and Kensington, they epitomised the early 21st century guitar sound, Liverpool went mad for The Maybes?
The band went mad for it too, and in true rock and roll fashion they burned out when very little of the potential that once was had been fulfilled.
The band that grew out of that blowout, though, are somewhat similar. The birth of such a band emitted that same partisan popularity on Merseyside. The Tea Street Band gained wider popularity, albeit a long time coming, when their eponymous debut album in 2014 became the epicentre of Liverpool music once again.
Liverpool is a different place to when The Maybes? came onto the scene though, and even since 2014. Nick Otaegui feels that the venue economy has shifted in the city: “I mean, obviously venues have changed. The Kazimier wasn’t even about when we came on the scene and that’s been and gone.”
“Music’s changed too from when we’ve started, it was the Scousedelic sort of thing with The Coral, The Zutons, The Bandits, the Bandwagon crew. There’s a lot more different pockets of music now. Back then, The Bandwagon was a big thing, we used to get down one night a month and we’re not talking like 100 people, it was like 300/350 sold out every month, with people waiting outside to try and get in.”
“There isn’t really a vibe like that, there’s not that thing where everyone’s heading to one place. Maybe there is with dance, but not really for rock and roll. There’s loads of boss bands though, The Vryll Society have come back out and smashed it, Jo Mary are getting going and enjoying what they’re doing with it, The Coral are back.”
In the here and now, The Tea Street Band have followed up, again at long last, with a second album in the form of Frequency. Recorded over a year in Liverpool’s fabled Parr Street Studios with Chris Taylor (Ian Brown, Millburn), Frequency is a big leap forward for The Tea Street Band.
Timo Tierney (vocals, guitar), Nick Otaegui (bass, vocals), Lee Smith (guitar, synth) and Dom Allen (drums) seamlessly blend riffs and synths in their lead single Feel It, their album is the product of a band while consistently in the frame are also consistently pushing for more.
“The album has varied in a few ways to be honest,” Nick said: “With the first album we basically made it from the 15/20 tunes that we’d play week in week out. Now we don’t go out gigging every weekend so it’s different, we gig around a tour.”
“We do it the other way now, we sit down and think, and write, then we might go out off that but at the same time. I mean, we’re fellas with jobs, wives, houses, mortgages and shit like that, so having that time to do it as we once did when we were younger, with The Maybes? and all that, is more difficult. It’s more sporadic, but it’s about making sure it’s not a chore as well, so you don’t overkill it.”
As a band now well experienced in the method of releasing an album, a listener might be tricked into thinking it was a production line process, but that wasn’t the case: “There was no real process that went on with this one, its just all of us coming in with ideas and different people running with them. We’ve changed it up every single song. We’ve all had a lot of input.”
“The first album was very much in the now, whereas this is a lot more reflective, in the head, looking back, analytical of moods and emotions as opposed to the first one which was quite descriptive.”
To many it will feel like an age since the last Tea Street release: “We started working on it immediately after our first album then we scrapped it and started it again and I reckon over the course of a year and half we were writing it. Then over the last 6 months we’ve been getting it mixed, mastered and ready.”
It would be ridiculous to talk about this new album, released on Modern Sky UK, without discussing the artwork. An image taken originally by John Johnson, then designed by drummer Dom Foster, it’s fitting of the band.
“Yeah, it’s John’s original photograph, when we were The Maybes? he was our first on tour photographer and our PR shots were done with him. It’s great to come full circle.”
“We wanted to stay away from any religious sort of thing, it’s a Liverpool building which is important because the architecture in the city is amazing. It all ties in with the album being about noise and frequency, and faith, but more spiritually. More about music than the Catholic Church, and taking spirits into the physical realm with frequencies.”
This is a more reflective work, there’s no doubt about that, it’s an album produced from wisdom and experience.
Nick himself looks back to his perspective on music, and how it has changed, and you feel it’s those ups and downs that have been woven into the fabric of Frequency: “When you get a taste of your own mortality, deeper stuff, people are dying around you and that, its bound to have an effect. With The Maybes? it was all ‘fight for your mind’, especially early on, but over the course of time you wanna push the feeling on. It’s looking out for everyone as well, more of a family vibe, helping people with love rather than fighting from your own shit so you don’t get sucked in.”
“Ultimately we’re very blessed to have a lot of good people around us, a lot of love around us. We’re very fortunate to be playing together as mates. As Keith Mullin from The Farm said, we’ll just keep riding this pony.”
Frequency is released on Modern Sky UK on Friday, November 9 while The Tea Street Band play District on Friday, November 16.
UPDATE: Due to popular demand, The Tea Street Band have announced an extra night at District on Thursday, November 15. Here’s their second single, Marseille Blues.