Live music has slowly been making a return in recent weeks across the country and UK country music fans are quickly making up for lost time with the recent Tennessee Fields festival, the return of 3 nights of country music to the capital from Nashville Meets London and the first three-night festival of the year coming up at Buckle and Boots Festival in just a few days’ time. Like the fans wasting no time in snapping up tickets for these events, one artist who has shown his desire for performing to the European market has wasted no time in jumping on a plane and even meeting the need to spend 5 days locked up in quarantine in a flat in Soho. Tebey first came to the attention of London based country music fans in October 2019 and was due to make his return to the stage in London just a few months later at C2C. We caught up with this week around his shows in London and to look ahead to his headline slot on the Sunday night at Buckle and Boots. I didn’t book either my flight or my bass players flight until about 6 days before we were coming over. I want to be here and break out in this market so I’m prepared to potentially sit it out in a flat for ten days so I can do it. I was watching the news and refreshing after every announcement and then I started hearing that fully vaccinated people would not have to quarantine after the 19th. I was thinking that is perfect as I can arrive on the 20th and play the show on the 22nd but unfortunately that’s only for people that have been vaccinated in England. For many in attendance, this will be their first show in over 16 months and Tebey is well aware of this. No pressure right! I’m looking forward to it as I’ve never played a full on Tebey band show here like I do back home, so I’m excited to do that in Manchester. I think it’ll be my first show out of London. To get to headline Buckle and Boots is incredible and be on the same bill as artists like The Shires is incredible. Getting radio spins has been huge and I feel like I’m being given the opportunity to grow the fan base over here and move up the ladder over the course of these next couple of weeks. The show is going to be very different what they’re used to seeing here. I don’t even talk in a show till the 4th song. We don’t stop and chat after every song, we are going to do this like the American artists do. We will play 3 songs, have a talk, and then play 4 more songs. We’re going to rock as there’s a lot of energy to the show which people might be surprised about compared to my acoustic sets that I’ve previously played over here. It’s been a long time (since the last full band show) so hopefully I don’t forget any lyrics as I’m pretty bad for that. I’m hoping to come back for a mini tour next around C2C either before or after. In Canada we perform at a very different level with a full band, crew and tour buses so it is very different to then come over here and start at the bottom again. You have to really want it. Without a ton of radio here to grow your fan base you have to keep on coming back and ultimately, you’re going to lose money.
On his last visit to Europe, Tebey did get some performances in as he was also at C2C in Berlin. Fortunately for German fans, the lifting of restrictions does mean Tebey can get over to Hamburg for a show. Germany has been a focus as well. We knew that the promoter wanted to do a show and had conversations about different venues, and it turns out it’ll be in Hamburg. I’d known for a while it was potentially going to happen and we were just waiting to see what restrictions were in place. I’ve never had more indecision in my career than the last month trying to organise this trip!
Tebey has always spoken fondly of UK country artists and spoke of how he is looking forward to getting to know more of them over the coming weeks. I try to stay updated as I can with the names over here. I’m familiar with artists like The Shires and Tim Prottey-Jones. I feel there is a place in the market for this progressive pop-country sound that people associate with Dan & Shay or Kane Brown. Getting those guys over to the UK in the next couple of years is going to be tricky as they need to make up money stateside so I will happily fly in and take their place! If I can come over here and play in a few different markets and play to 5 or 600 people, I’ll be ecstatic. Tim Prottey-Jones asked me to write but I don’t think we will have time this time around. I’d love to write with The Shires as I think they are really cool and would love to get into their vibe, but I’m open to suggestions. Most recently, Tebey teamed up with Una Healy to release a duet version of his fan favourite track Song of the Summer. The pair live 4,000 miles apart, have a 7-hour time difference, have never met in person, and still managed to get a track on the radio. It was very strange as Una was still in Ireland obviously and I was in Nashville. We used a programme called audio reverse so I can see her engineer’s computer and hear her in real time. We used that despite being so far apart. Now that I stop and think about it, it’s been crazy as we have this amazing music video together that was shot in three different countries, and we still haven’t met! I wasn’t sure if she would do it as I had no prior relationship with her. The only relationship we have is me being a fan of The Saturdays. It was nice of her to point out that my Pixie Lott song kept them out of number one! Hopefully I get to meet her at some point soon, it was a very strange process, haven’t not met yet we have a song on the radio and music video together.
The original track quickly became a fan favourite, and now has an acoustic release and poolside mix. But what is it that has stood out about this track to so many? I don’t really know to be honest. The streaming numbers for it were really good out of the gate and it hasn’t even been on the radio in Canada. You can tell if people are digging a record just by looking at the diagnostics but it’s a summer song and I feel like it’s a hit song. We called Una based on the strength of the song, sent it over and said we’d love for you to be on it. She decided to do it and we are off to the races. Song of the Summer was featured on Tebey’s most recent album The Good Ones that came out in January. It was delayed maybe 3 or 4 months. I like to put records out in the fall, so it would have come up in October or November. To get the music finally out was awesome. It’s almost the norm now that you put out several singles before you drop the album and we had three singles out, so it felt good. I’m excited to start working on the new record. I’ll be heading down to Mexico with my producer and main co-writer for a week and try to come up with a record. Maybe this can be my album launch party over the next week or so!! We will have some merch available as well as we keep getting asked but never have any with us!
Despite being known to many as a country artist, Tebey is also highly regarded for his song writing across all genres and also has a side project in the form of his EDM outfit RadioClub. It’s been a fun little side project that started off with the Rick Astley cover which is now at 7 or 8 million streams which is crazy. We were going to put it out in the UK, but several people questioned how the audience here would vibe with it as he’s a national treasure and you’re making his hit song an EDM song. Being part of Radio Club is amazing, it’s a great outlet to work on something outside of the country music genre. I’ve written lots of songs for people outside of country and it’s fun for me to do it as it’s not about getting famous from it – our pictures are barely on the records – we just want to make great music. We want to make great records and have hit songs that people associate the RadioClub brand with. The shoutout off the top is probably one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. I could hear this British female voice saying, “This is RadioClub.” I got a girl named Katy Tiz, who has that cockney type of accent and I got her to say it, so now it is on the top of every song. We can only hope there might be time for a Rick Astley EDM version of Never Gonna Give You Up in Manchester. I like to do a sing-along of favourite songs to get the crowd into it, so maybe I’ll do all British songs and bust out a little Take That or something.
Over the years, Tebey has written for some of the biggest acts in country music but does have links to a couple of household names in the UK market. I’m not writing for cuts at the moment as if you’re not writing a song with the artist, it’s very hard to get the song recorded, which is the nature of the business right now. I’ve changed my focus a little bit to write when I want to write and not being tied down. I’m trying to write just great songs and am getting about one song a week if I’m lucky. Working with One Direction (They Don’t Know About Us) was pretty cool as at the time they were the biggest band in the world so to be able to fly over here and work with them, my name is actually listed as producer on one of the records is so cool. Still to this day I don’t quite get the magnitude of it, one day when I walk away from music I’ll look back and see all the credits. Another one was the Pixie Lott track (All About Tonight) being nominated for single of the year at the Brits was a point where it almost doesn’t get better than that in the UK. As life begins to turn back to normal, we had to know if Tebey could pick out any highlights of things he had achieved during the down time. Leaving the house is always nice!!!! Happened on a Saturday Night going gold was great, Denim on Denim went platinum a few months ago which is crazy. Platinum as a country artist is very hard to do so that was probably the highlight.
Like artists around the world, Tebey has spent most of the last year at home with his young family but the time has come to get back on the road. It’s hard, just being home with them every day for the last year makes it tough. It’s tough doing the quarantine as I know I’m gone for at least three weeks as after the UK we head to Hamburg, then back to Toronto on the 5th for a festival on the 6th! It’s mental, it makes me miss them quite a bit.
As we start our countdown to the upcoming Buckle and Boots Country Festival in Manchester from 30th July to 1st August you can catch Tebey perform In The Round at 6pm on Friday with Alyssa Bonagura and Gary Quinn as well as during his main stage headline slot on Sunday evening at 9pm. The final tickets for the festival are on sale now. Be sure to follow Tebey on social media for any updates about future dates in the UK Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify | Apple Music
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks