T.E.A Time as Tunnelmental Experimental Assembly talks to WSR
Tunnelmental Experimental Assembly talks to Wicked Spins Radio
Wicked Spins Radio are happy to host Alice’s Wicked Tea Party later on this year and how can you have a tea party without tea? Well we have our tea in the form of T.E.A., Tunnelmental Experimental Assembly to be exact. T.E.A. are a vibrant and colourful band in both sound and image. They have a wonderfully rich feel which oozes love and happiness. Wicked Spins Radio caught up with Nigel of T.E.A. and here is how it went.
WSR – Thank you so much for giving Wicked Spins Radio this interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourselves?
T.E.A. – We are a couple of musicians and producers who have become “Tunnelmental experimental assembly” Derek and I (Nigel) have done music and been in various versions of T.E.A. or Tunnelmental for many years. It has been over the last 3 years that we have fully realized our mutual strengths and weaknesses and honed our skills to become who we are today. We recognize in each other a certain need to be creative and writing, recording, producing and playing music is our way of life. We have both found our true passion, we have both separately been very successful in other creative area’s of our lives but none is more satisfying than creating great songs.
WSR – How and why did you make the transition from jockey to musician Nigel?
T.E.A. – I was a successful jump jockey in my youth but I struggled with the Class system and the very old fashioned attitudes of horse racing, I grew jaded and despondent at seeing good jockeys overlooked for the sons of trainers and owners, I needed to spread my wings and discover the world. I spent a lot of my time after quitting horse racing, traveling and writing, basically rewiring myself for an artistic driven life, I have on occasion looked back and wondered if I should have continued but I really knew inside I had to write and make music. I struggled to hold a job down and do what was expected of a working class lad from the west country and one day said enough is enough, I backpacked round the world for a year or so before completely unplugging myself from the system. That was in the mid eighties and I have never regretted my decision.
WSR – Are there any similarities between being a jockey and being a musician?
T.E.A. – No, I do not believe there any similarities.
WSR – What would you say is the main difference between Tunnelmental and Tunnelmental Experimental Assembly?
T.E.A. – The main difference for me is the ability to imagine something and then actually achieve it. With Tunnelmental there was great potential and we did achieve a great amount of success but it was limited by many factors, not least of which was we were constantly changing line-ups and due to my own driving ambition that eventually became too intense for our own good. I was constantly pushing myself and band members to breaking point. It was somewhat remarkable that we didn’t implode sooner. At one point during the late nineties, we were up to a 10 piece and it became increasingly difficult to manage the creative flow. I am very pleased with what we achieved and it was after a very successful gig at The Whiskey in L.A. that it was time to move on for many members of the band. It was a few years later that the seeds of t.e.a. started to germinate. I tried to involve many people in t.e.a. but it soon became unwieldy again, so I focused on the songs and their production. Derek and I both had similar sensibilities about producing music and we shared similar tastes so we decided we should work together as t.e.a. The other main factor that is different and better in t.e.a. is that the technology has finally arrived that allows Derek and I to create, write and record in our own studio. The next release of technology from the aliens (that live among us) will allow us to truly expand our production techniques…
WSR – What was the main decision to end up settling in L.A. Nigel?
T.E.A. – Love is the simple answer but in full truth and I know you really want to know, I am here in Los Angeles with seditious intent and aim to bring the mainstream media down. It is an arduous and sometimes difficult task but I think its possible.
WSR – To your latest release Shite, what is the inspiration and story behind the song but also the video?
T.E.A. – After Derek and I finished recording and remixing “t.e.a. dance vol:1” we were itching to write new material, I had about a million ideas and Derek had about two million ideas. So I gave us some self imposed limitations. I wanted to write four songs that were interrelated and cohesive, explaining our current predicament politically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally using 5 letter word titles starting with the letter S. We wrote “shite” “state” “sting” and “shine” quite quickly and then deconstructed them, rebuilt them and finished the four-song e.p. and called it “the shite e.p.” I intended to put it out as that but soon realised it was in need of some remixes, so we set about finding some fellow explorers of music and mayhem, Tony Byker has remixed every track from the e.p. so brilliantly, Trans Irie Nation has done some amazing remixes and many more people are doing remixes of the tracks. I decided along with Derek that we should release one of the songs with a bunch of remixes and see how that went, we had some help deciding which of the original four would be best suited as a single from some L.A. music friends and “shite” was chosen. It has recently (March 2015) released with four brilliant remixes. The music film (I don’t like the term “music video”) for “shite” sort of grew out of the idea for the song, I wanted to show politically, that we are able to shake free from the “illusion of democracy” and make positive change in the world by non conformity and peaceful disobedience. I also wanted to show that good technology is able to help us overturn this current paradigm, we just have to turn the technology around and expose the corrupt and ridiculous system of controls. To lift the veil and expose the greed and hatred that has been ruling the world for far too long. As we did not have a budget or funds to film a spectacular expose on how to rid ourselves of this system, we set about doing what we could with the tools we had, I believe we can all do many great things with very little funding, great imagination and brilliant friends. Mitch Steele, who is a great friend directed, filmed and edited the film. An amazing artist friend Ravi Zupa provided us with some animated pieces, Derek and I did our bit as hackers and “shite” a music film was released to coincide with the single.
WSR – So what is it about orange you like so much?
T.E.A. – I believe it is the colour of love. Since love and peace are my weapons, I wear it a lot.
WSR – Who did the remixing of Shite and what do you feel they did to your sound?
T.E.A. – Tony Byker, completely re-imagined and re-wrote it in his own brilliant and amazing way. Trans Irie Nation twisted it into a brilliant and eclectic glitch hop dance hall smasher. Gerd, sent it into orbit around the sun and swung it back again in a shinola trance. North2South took it deep into the House made it dance its arse off.
WSR – What do you feel are the key elements of the T.E.A. Sound?
T.E.A. – Passion. Belief. The quest to write a song that is timeless. Our sound is I hope unique to us; yet evocative enough to conjure up all that music can bring to life. I do not fully know if there is any key element to the t.e.a. sound, I just let the flow go and write with passion. Derek is amazing at blending rhythm and melody, layering and creating great beauty.
WSR – Nigel how would you choose to describe your appearance? I see you as a gentleman with a wonderful flair.
T.E.A. – I approach life with the idea that, if you got it, flaunt it. I am not entirely sure what “it” is but I figure I might as well put “it” all out on display and see what happens. I enjoy playing with people’s sensibilities and pre-conceived notions of normality.
WSR – What is your favourite saying?
T.E.A. – Love and Peace are my weapons.
WSR – What is the strongest or darkest theme/story you have either used as an inspiration for you music or have intertwined into your music?
T.E.A. – The darkest is war, the strongest is love. I leave no stone unturned. Life is way too short to omit any of its beauty.
WSR – Is there anything you miss about life in the UK?
T.E.A. – I do not really feel I ever really belonged to any one country or place, I love the world and it’s so small, I feel I may need to travel further afield one day. I love my life and the ability to explore new and exciting places. I gravitate naturally back to my place of birth and enjoy a special connectivity to this beautiful and abundant planet. There are some magical places in UK that beckon me from time to time.
WSR – The face that is used on the cover of Shite is as some see slightly demonic in an oriental way, why did you choose to use this iconography?
T.E.A. – Firstly, it is a mask and indicative of hiding a secret behind it, much like our current world leaders. Secondly, I was exploring an interest in the ancient Japanese traditional Noh theatre when I discovered the main actor was referred to as “shite” again indicative of our current world leaders. It was perfect.
WSR – The one thing that pisses me off at the moment, Windows fucking 8. Its crap but I have to use it, grrrrrrr. So what at the moment is the bane of your life?
T.E.A. – The same as it has always been, man’s inhumanity to man. I am an activist pacifist and I will never understand the need for any violence and war.
WSR – Thank you so much for giving Wicked Spins Radio this interview, is there anything you would like to add?
T.E.A. – If you believe you have something important to say or do that can make this world a better place, do it NOW. This is not a rehearsal. Love and Peace are my weapons.