INTERVIEW: Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The undisputed local kings of western swing and ragtime hokum (and everything in between) Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra have become somewhat of a template for hard work and determination, providing proof that there is no magic pill for success in the music industry without resilience and self-belief, as frontman and driving force Rob explains: “Our approach has always been to try and keep to a tight schedule where we look to release a new album every two years, tour it as much as we can, and do as much of the artistic work as possible. We also run the record label Tea Pad Recordings which we find is a good way to control what we release and when it’s released. We like to run things our way.”

Maintaining creative control has certainly been at the heart of new album Soul Of My City, which moves the band into new artistic spheres both in terms of sound and visuals. “I’m never keen to give the sound of the band a label,” continues Rob, “with this album I wanted us to be a little more experimental and take influence from the stranger sounding bands I play when I DJ”. 

as a band we try to have a finger in a number of genres rather than a whole hand in one

Evidenced by recent single Like A Cuckoo, with the Orchestra being perhaps their most poppy and catchy to date, the band are clearly pushing their sound into new realms. “It’s an interesting track that one,” admits Rob, “I was a bit nervous to release it, but it’s turned out to be my favourite track on the album and the feedback we’ve had has been positive. We just wanted to try something a bit different and as a band we try to have a finger in a number of genres rather than a whole hand in one.”

Conceptually based around Newcastle’s Ouseburn Valley, Soul Of My City is an attempt, in part, to start a discussion about the gentrification of parts of Newcastle. “Gentrification is a funny word,” says Rob, “we prefer the word rebuilding, and whilst it’s been heart-warming to see the rebuilding of the Ouseburn area over the past few years, the high rental costs and some of the purpose-built student accommodation blocks are starting to endanger the local economy and artistic scene. We need everyone to see the value art provides to a local culture, and for everyone to contribute to the artistic scene, whether that’s starting up a band, coming to check out live music or even going to see a film at the Star & Shadow. Student accommodation with purpose-built video halls are not designed to support the local community.”

Building on their own beliefs, the band have been careful to ensure that the video for future single There’s A Hole Where My Pocket Used To Be has been fully recorded in the local area. “We were out in the streets of Heaton filming a Clint Eastwood-style spaghetti western video for the new track. I can’t wait for the video to be released as it’s not just humorous but it’s also a good indication of how we want to be involved in the community.” 

Hardworking and determined, with their new record Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra bare both their heart and their soul with predictably glorious results.

Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra launch Soul Of My City at The Cluny, Newcastle on Friday 1st February through Tea Pad Records.  


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