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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Photo by Craig Newton

Since their conception seven years ago Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra have released four albums, toured the length and breadth of the UK and Europe and lashings of radio and press coverage. Hailing from Newcastle the band are a fusion of a variety of styles including western swing, country blues, ragtime hokum to create a style that is uniquely their own. We speak to lead vocalist and guitarist Rob Heron from ahead of their performance headlining Billy Bootleggers Americana stage at Lindisfarne Festival (29th Aug-1st Sept).

How long have you known each other? How did you meet?
most of us met when studying at Newcastle university about 10 years ago.  I formed the band with Colin (accordion/keys) and Tom (mandolin/harmonica) about 8 years ago, and it grew from there. 

Who are you biggest musical influences?
Too many to say really. I was brought up on Van Morrison and I went backwards…. To name some less obscure names, Tom Waits, Merle Travis, George Jones, Hank Williams, Joe Turner, Freddy King, Louis Jordan, Etta James, Lennon & McCartney, Small Faces, The Kinks, The Byrds, Gram Parsons etc.

Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
I have lists of notes and voice memos I’ve made, and when writing new material, I look through it all and see what inspires me that day.  I generally come up with a good hook, and then decide on the feel or genre of the song, and then I write the main block of lyrics. Some ideas will stay as notes forever, some will be written straight away.  Our next single, which is out in October, was taken from a voice memo from 2011!!

What do you like most about performing at a festival?
I like that everyone is there to have a good time, be merry, and dance.  I do like people to engage properly though, not just drunkenly flail themselves around!  I have always just loved the vibe of festivals. All those people, disregarding the boring monotony of the “real world” for a weekend, and letting loose.  People take everyday life too seriously, and at festivals they can express themselves more. I wish people would have that care-free mindset in the “real world” more often. 

What can people expect from your performance at Lindisfarne Festival?
A bunch of bloody well-dressed, handsome boys, playing a bloody good set of bloody good songs and waltzing around the stage like they bloody own the place, because for that 45mins, we bloody do…. The rest of the festival’s yours.

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