Interview with Tanel Padar: “I am called “the bad boy of Estonian rock’n’roll”, because I am.”

23. April 2014
Mihaela Barac

Tanel Padar talked of being a blues man with our volunteering reporter Mihaela Barac.

What is your impression of tonight?

I wasn’t expecting so many people on Sunday evening! It was really nice seeing the place crowded.


But you’re a very famous person, it is quite normal.

I know. Sometimes I’m too famous to myself as well. Every time I look into the mirror I say “Wow, dude you’re very famous!” [laughs]

When Jazzkaar started 25 years ago, it was blues and jazz. And now, it is going back, I hope. In the beginning of the 1990s and 2000s there were like a lot of blues bands and now it is narrowing a little bit. So I hope Anne is doing the right move. 

Next Monday we will play Monday, on blue Monday. [laughs]


What other collaborations you have in mind with this band?

We were actually just discussing this. We all started and have been playing together a long time ago and now, like one year and a half ago we said let’s do one gig. It was just for fun, for the sake of old times and then it became like a hit. All the old fans came out, and said “Finally!” It was a surprise success for me, too. We have a concert in Finland in autumn and in May we go to Moscow. We have club gigs there. So it’s getting bigger. Nobody expected it. Now I have to tell my band mates in The Sun that “sorry guys, I have another popular thing coming up for you”. [laughs]


Why is it “The Sun”?

Yeah I’m calling them The Sun, but I don’t know. Actually there is a British magazine named the same, so basically they did all the promotion already. It is a name already. 


So it was always blues, you have always lived with it?

Yeah, I started with blues. I was 19 when Argo first invited me to Compromise Blues. We know each over already 15 years and have been constantly collaborating. Years ago we did Augustibluus, the biggest blues festival in Estonia. So I’ve been there 16 times or something like that. I remember when they took over the organization things and they didn’t have money or anything, but there was the idea. Everybody got together for the blues, that what was important, that was great. And now they’re doing well. 

Argo Toome comments: This is the best that it ever been. Last year we had like 5000 people and in the terms of Estonia this is really something. 


What if you didn’t do blues music, what would it be or would try to do?

A smith. Like in iron work. That is what I’ve been thinking. To learn this thing. And I’ve already tried it. It is really hard work. You have to know the technique. The hammer has to fall on the tail with great power and strength. It is very attractive, the iron, the fire… We have an old movie in Estonia “The Blacksmith”, it’s kind of romantic. 


You have opened for Metallica, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, a lot of bands. Were you a fan of them? 

Not all of them. With Alice Cooper we just thought that somebody invited us for a concert and then we did the sound check and we were told that Alice Cooper is now coming. And the same thing was in Latvia with Smokie. We didn’t know that the other band was playing there. 


What bands would you like to open for then?

I’d like to open for B.B.King. You know, just meet the guy and shake his hand and say how much he actually means to me. He is definitely one of my great inspirations. Eric Clapton as well, but I saw him, last year, and it wasn’t… He is getting old. That is why I didn’t go see James Brown when he was in Haapsalu. Because I felt he is not as good he used to be. You want to remember the person like he was. 


If you could go to any concert in any time, with a time machine, what would be?

Actually I don’t care, it doesn’t matter what the music is. If the band or the artist is enjoying himself, is doing the music for the satisfaction, then this is good. Make the chemistry with the audience. 


Like you did it today!

Yeah, but we never played during the day, especially at a jazz festival. Everything looked really awkward. And my mother was sitting in the first row. And everybody was sitting down, but the music was groovy. And the children in the front… One of them was our drummers’ child. And he came out of nowhere during the first song. 


How did winning Eurovision change your life? 

It actually didn’t. It destroyed my blues image. Before that we were doing my old songs in English and we were like second or third band for the expenses and stuff, really normally paid. Afterwards, everybody thought that we are now way more expensive and  the gig schedule went down. We used to play like every week, after that we had one concert in two months. Actually this is why we decided, me and my keyboard player, we were playing in Speed Free. We said “Come on, we are young dudes!”… We were like 20 years old or 22… and Ülo was a year and a half older. So we said let’s make a band and we made it. So we were in Teletorn, we had salad, coffee, cogniac and he called for a bass player and then we found a drummer and this was The Sun. Now, he is a well known composer, plays totally different music. And we just come together and play blues. We are all friends, this is what counts. 


When Eurovison didn’t change your life/career, then what other event did it?

The thing that changed my life is actually funny… We wanted to take a James Brown song, but sing the lyrics “Welcome to Estonia” in Estonian. But we waited a long time for the permission to record in Estonian. It was one and a half year or something like that. Every time we are abroad, we play everything in English, but this song we play it in Estonian. And it worked. 


At this moment James Dalton enters the room and says that he wants to tell a story about these guys. 

When he was working on Viking Line as  trubadour between Stockholm and Helsinki a friend told him to listen to a song. It was called “Welcome to Estonia”. Dalton  thought it to be a funny cover of James Brown’s song. Time passed by and Dalton was at Augustibluus where he met Padar. They were talking backstage and Padar was telling about some kind of problems with rights to a song. Dalton asked what was the song and Padar said „James Brown’s cover, we call it “Welcome to Estonia”“ It was then Dalton realised that Padar was the guy that did the song he had heard years ago! 


How critical are you of yourself? How much do you let others critic you?

I think it is really important to hear what the others actually say. There are always guys who will be whining. And it doesn’t matter that I am called “bad boy of estonian rock’n’roll”, because I am. I can’t do anything about it. It is nice that Jazzkaar exists. Once a year I get to put my suit on and be more serious. (laughs) And my main mirrors are the guys (pointing at the band). This is the opinion that I care most about. I don’t have to agree with them, but when they have a point, I have to think it over.  


How often do you have concerts?

Last two weeks I had five concerts, sometimes twice a day. I have different projects. Every time we have two concerts in a row, we say never again. But once we had even three on one evening. One hour in Rakvere, one in Tallinn with the whole band and then in a night club, on the same day. 

In a way it is really cool, doing different things, but when you have the same concerts with the same band during same day, it feels like a dejavu, that I’ve been there. 


How do you create your music? Which comes first,  the music or lyrics?

I prefer athat the music works itself, that the lyrics come after it. It has to fit together in the end of course. It comes all together. The lyrics have to fit the song, not the other way.