Wednesday, November 6, 2013

PROVING THEMSELVES: An interview with Stonefield

While the pressure of cashing in on the buzz surrounding their Unearthing may rush other bands to release their debut album, Stonefield have taken their time as Amy and Hannah Findlay explain to Andy Hazel, they want to do it right.
With the release of their debut album, Stonefield move from being a band about which the talk of their gender, age and hype may actually be drowned out by the music. Many have opinion about the Findlay sisters (and some who have an opinion can even name a Stonefield song), but soon their crashing riffs, pile-driving drums and full-throated vocals look likely to be leaving firm impressions the nation over. When making the album, bigness, the sisters agree, was the goal.
“It’s so nerve-wracking,” says drummer, singer and songwriter Amy Findlay with a laugh. “You distance yourself from it, and you’re not sure if it’s big as you think it is. You keep on listening more, and as time goes on you think: ‘Ahh, maybe it’s not that good,’ she laughs nervously.
Nerves are to be expected for an album on which so much is riding. Since exploding onto the scene in 2010, the four sisters released singles and EPs that garnered high rotation and quickly saw their fanbase expand. Touring followed, including a set at Glastonbury, an all-important ‘whoah!’-inducing visit to the Corner to see Band of Skulls that resulted in the band using their producer Ian Davenport, and hours and hours of practice.
While three years may seem a long time, it’s also a mark of careful confidence. ‘I think it worked out perfectly,’ says Amy. Guitarist Hannah agrees, ‘It was good for us because we had that extra time to write. Our songwriting developed and it gave us time for our experiences to sink in so we knew that this is really what we want to do.’
The album itself is the product of much collaboration. Not only with Davenport and engineer Tim Palmer (U2, Pearl Jam) but for the songwriting too, a worthwhile experience says Amy.
‘We didn’t want to write with anyone, we had to feel like we had the same vibe going on,’ she says evenly. ‘We wrote a few things with Adalita, that was really, really fun, but that song didn’t end up fitting with the album. It’s an awesome song, but it was a completely different thing to everything else. We also wrote with the Delta Riggs, which was completely cool. They came up to our place, set up in the lounge room, we kicked mum and dad out for a couple of days and jammed,’ the sisters laugh. ‘That was fun. Jared from Eagle and the Worm as well, those two made the album,’ says Amy.
While fun is definitely an energy coursing through the album, lyrically several themes recur; power dynamics and proving yourself. ‘Because we’re all sort of at this age where everything changes and so much happens in your life, becoming an adult, that kind of thing,’ she says matter-of-factly. ‘The whole ‘proving yourself’ thing…obviously that’s a big part of it and it’s important because…debut album, here we are. Especially because it’s been three years since we were Unearthed by Triple J, so it was important that we came back with something really good and we weren’t just a hype band. We definitely wanted to prove ourselves,’ she says pausing. ‘I think that we’ve got good instincts, that’s pretty much what we’ve run off of the whole way through. Even picking a manager and label and all that stuff, it’s all about instinct.’
Amy’s instinct is a guiding force for the band as Hannah explains. ‘Mostly we do agree on stuff, but if we don’t normally it’s just one person that doesn’t agree - Holly, the youngest,’ she laughs. ‘Normally Amy is the leader and if she thinks really strongly about something then we have a lot of trust and faith in her.’
A word likely to be used a lot over the coming months, and one they’re not bothered by, is ‘mature’. ‘I feel like we have probably matured,’ says Hannah laughing before Amy continues. ‘As people and musically…I don’t know, we’re still very youthful,’ she says, continuing to laugh. Hannah responds, ‘I guess we are for 15-23 year olds, compared to when we first started. I guess we have matured a lot’. One thing that hasn’t changed however, is a love of rock. Other teenagers might go from twee-folk to hard house in the space of three years, not the Findlays.
‘Well, Sarah who plays keys is really into bands like Parkway Drive,’ says Amy outlining the diversity of her sisters’ listening habits. ‘Which is weird because she’s probably the most placid…very pretty and cute,’ the sisters devolve into laughter. ‘But she’s into…’ starts Amy, ‘really heavy stuff as well,’ continues Hannah, ‘and you pretty much did a jazz course.’
‘Yeah,’ she agrees ‘but I was never really into jazz. I was open to trying it and learning about it and stuff but always felt out of my depth singing anything but rock,’ she laughs again. ‘It’s so true that as teenagers you’re into rock and later something else. So many people we know were into grunge when they were teenagers and now they’re into tekkers (laughs), which is weird. But we’ve carried through with a love of it.’

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