Picture from Alice’s Tea Party’s Facebook page.
The very first Lincolnshire Band of the Week feature was rolled out last week – the music scene in this county is diverse and eclectic and needed to be celebrated; whilst the profiled band last time round was alternative rock group Project Redshift from Louth, this week the spotlight is firmly on a Boston rock group, with a grungy edge to them
Alice’s Tea Party first came to life in November 2012, so they’ve been on the scene for almost 5 years now. The first thing that sprang to my mind when I heard the group’s name was the surreal Lewis Carrol dreamlike novel ‘Alice in Wonderland’. The rest of the band is themed around the fantasy book, including the nicknames the members go by. Take for example the group’s lead singer and all round performer Absolem “The Caterpillar” Fortuenty; I think the strong inspiration the story has on the band is pretty evident.
The band was initially quite under the radar, playing gigs in their local area – then in 2014 they entered Boston’s Battle of the Bands and finished joint second. With nothing to lose, they participated again the following year, and this time assumed full bragging rights, finishing as victorious champions. They performed a selection of original material at the finals and a combination of a confident stage presence, powerful vocals, and thrilling guitar solos reminiscent of the glory days of heavy metal in the 70s and 80s made them deserving winners. Distorted bass guitars, pulsating guitar riffs with murky song lyrics ensure the band are a classic sounding hybrid between heavy metal and punk influenced grunge music – some of the tracks they released/performed at the Battle of the Bands include a cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘N.I.B’, then their original tracks ‘Song with No Name’, ‘Miles Down the Track’, and ‘The Ballad of John’.
In 2016 the band were quieter, but are on the cusp of releasing more music. With a new drummer and increased activity on their social media accounts, they are rearing to go with new music and fresh setlists for live shows! I spoke to Absolem, Stygian, Hatter and Big Al, to see what the future holds…
Q: I really like the uniqueness of your band name – how did you come to have the name?
Absolem: Alice in Wonderland, what a great story. Our Bassist (Mr Hatter) decided it would be a good idea. I Agreed. It’s memorable and different I guess.
Stygian: Basically I got in a car… a DeLorean to be exact. I drove at 88MPH and shot back to before the band even existed, and I was Like ‘Dudes… Alice’s tea party. Eh’.
Absolem: Yeah, basically that.
Big Al: *Hits drums*.
Q: The band has been active since 2012 – how did your group’s formation happen?
Absolem: After a few failed attempts to find a good crew to play with, I finally met Mr Hatter while camping. Originally the band was a solo project created by Mr Hatter. He then formed the band at the end of 2012, with him and myself working on songs together at Sam Newsom Music Centre at Boston College.
Q: Is Alice’s Tea Party a full-time musical project, or something which you work on when you get the time?
Absolem: Realistically part time…ideally full time. While we all wish to play every day for the rest of our lives, the demon has presented himself in the form of bills. But don’t worry, we shall keep fighting the good fight.
Q: What was it like competing in a Battle of the Bands competition?
Absolem: Personally, I loved it. It was a great show. We played alongside many great artists.
Stygian: It was great to watch it.
Hatter: It was one hell of a gig. We put so much into it. I slipped off the stage.
Q: I gather from social media there have been additions of new members as well as members leaving – how long does it take for the band to adjust to departures and arrivals to Alice’s Tea Party?
Absolem: That can be a very varied answer.
Stygian: A good aspect would be getting to know the band outside of rehearsals. It really helps to try and get on a similar level.
Absolem: I mean our newest addition couldn’t play an instrument when he first came to us… within 3 weeks he could already keep up with us. He had the heart and the drive and that is the most important thing in my eyes, not the talent. With a bit more practice I believe we will all be ready to re-establish ourselves to the world again.
Hatter: After members leaving and joining you always have to be prepared to take a new route. Were we going to stick with the grungy sound or try to recreate our music?
Q: How many songs have you written and recorded as a band so far?
Hatter: Originally we had six songs recorded for our demo – they aren’t mastered, but can be found if you look hard enough.
Absolem: We have about 12 originals in the works; some need a bit of fine-tuning whereas some need a bit more work to be finished. We want to keep the original songs that people already know so they have that bit of familiarity with us, as well as being stunned by new performances.
Q: What has been your favourite moment of being in Alice’s Tea Party?
Hatter: Aww tough call!
Absolem: That’s a hard call. I just like performing so it has to be one of my performances… I did quite enjoy the ‘Octopussober’, this Call of Cthulu event we played at Grand Central, Skegness. It was an amazing gig; the atmosphere was pretty cool.
Hatter: I’d say when we had a load of people singing along to the ‘The Ballad of John’. We had been playing it for about a year and I heard a few other voices singing it and I just thought… that’s beautiful man.
Stygian: I just like the chilled environment with the band. We work hard and we don’t rush things – we take our time with it but we still get shit done. You can get a better product like this I think. I’ve been in past bands that are too serious… It’s a very stressful environment.
Big Al: *continues playing drums*.
Q: Have your experiences of being in a band predominantly low moments, high moments, or a mixture of both?
Hatter: It’s always a mixture of both… it’s life.
Absolem: I’m more of an optimist.
Stygian: It’s been a mixture of like medium and high moments for me so far.
Big Al: *jamming to the electric drum-kit present*
Q: Have you got a goal in mind for what you hope the band will achieve?
Absolem: Global domination.
Stygian: I’d say just to have fun, continue gigging and make a living out of what I love. Fun is always essential; if you don’t enjoy it, neither will your fanbase.
Absolem: (to Stygian) What a crappy answer!
Big Al: To hit stuff… really fast…
Absolem: That’s more like it!
Hatter: To have my tequila out of a tea cup. A tequila cup, mmm…
Q: Since February you’ve been hinting at new songs and a fresh setlist for your live performances – can you reveal any information on either at this moment in time?
Hatter: It’d take a battle of literacy.
Stygian: I’m sorry, so sorry.
Big Al: I play drums in them.
Absolem: You can expect music. Keep your eyes out on our social media – we will be making some announcements soon!
Speaking of social media, you can like and follow Alice’s Tea Party on their Facebook page.