Catching Up With Stonefield
It’s Saturday night at a completely packed Metro, and Australian band Stonefield are set to play their final night on tour with fellow Melbourne musicians King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Orb. Prior to their last performance, the four Findlay sisters of Stonefield filled me on all the happenings on tour and what’s next for them in 2017.
Our conversation starts with the sisters telling me they’d been to Chicago before, but never as tourists. This tour so far sounds like it’s been pretty relentless, with not much time off, and on top of that, the schedule for this last day of tour is already running late for everyone. While I chat with Stonefield, King Gizzard’s crew are doing a makeshift soundcheck, since the band members themselves have skipped in order to do a signing at Shuga Records.
The conversation progresses through the haphazard soundcheck, and we shift back to how the four sisters got started as musicians. Although they’ve been playing together since 2006, the Findlay sisters are still quite young, and surprisingly, the music gene doesn’t run direct through their family. “Our parents don’t play music, but they love listening to it,” guitarist Hannah says. She continues on to say that their love of playing music stemmed from growing up around the music their parents listens to, while the eldest sister, Amy, adds, “Mum and dad have this really weird connection where both of their brothers played in a band together, so that’s how they met. So we’ve got the music on both sides, but it’s actually kind of strange that mum and dad don’t play themselves.” Elaborating on the music they grew up with, Holly chimes in, “Dad is obsessed with Frank Zappa. So that’s obviously an influence. But like all of the classics, like Fleetwood Mac, Zeppelin, Hendrix, Pink Floyd. All of that.”
Circling back to their young age and picking up instruments as kids, Holly says the bass was like a toy for her. She's the baby of the family, and started playing as young as age 7. The girls say they’ve all learned a lot since they started, but Amy reckons the biggest lesson involves staying true to themselves. “Because we were so young, when we started, and we’ve been doing it for so long, I think our experience in the music industry has been quite different because we have kind of grown up with it. I think starting young, you’re also sort of--” Amy pauses, and Hannah jumps in with “easily influenced” to finish her sister’s thought. “You’re influenced by people’s opinions and I guess, advice. I think at the end of the day the biggest thing we’ve learned is that at the end of the day, music is a really personal thing,” Amy continued. “You don’t always have to take people’s advice. Like sometimes it’s great, but sometimes it’s better to leave it. It’s all about what you think. Trusting your instincts,” Hannah added. As the sisters bounce their concurring thoughts off one another, Amy concludes this topic by saying, “Music is kind of like a selfish thing. Like at the end of the day, what works best is doing it for yourself and not worrying about anything else. Which sound super corny. But it does kind of, when you’re so young, take a while to realize that you know what’s best for you.”
The Findlays also admit that they’ve learned valuable lessons as musicians just on their current tour with Orb and King Gizzard. Discussing the differences between these shows and touring in their home country, Amy says, “You really feel the love, like it’s easier to get a response. There is a slightly different energy. It’s kind of like having a fresh slate. We’re kind of starting from the bottom, which is exciting. It’s an exciting thing to kind of wanna win people over. To get on this tour and to be able to do it to this many people….It’s been really fun,” about playing in America. One of tour highlights, besides doing a “drive-by” of Times Square and The Statue of Liberty, was their two nights at Webster Hall. All four sisters say those shows were their favorite, with Holly recalling, “At one of the New York shows we had a huge...what do they call those? Circle pits!”
For most Australian musicians, touring really only happens on the weekend, whereas in America, all three of these Australian bands have been playing a new city every night. The Findlay sisters weigh in on this change too, Holly confessing she prefers touring over here. “Once you get into the swing of things, I reckon it’s better cause it’s cool that you can play every night and drive not too far and be in a whole new city,” she says. Amy adds that they’re fortunate at home to get gigs in country towns, but says for a lot of bands it doesn’t work out and they’ll only play shows on the weekends.
Another big difference between the American and Australian music industry? Album release cycles. Stonefield released their second studio album As Above, So Below in July 2016 back home, but they’ve only just released the first single from that record in The States. “We’re kind of in a weird spot, because we released that album in Australia last year, but it’s kind of fresh here,” Hannah says, while Amy says she hopes that they’ll get everyone on the same page for their third album. As far as new material for the next record, Hannah says they’re constantly writing. “I feel like our music progresses quite quickly, probably because we are still young, I guess. I think our new stuff is a bit... sort of spacey. [We’re] experimenting more with synthy sounds and stuff like that. But not really like 80’s synth. Like good synth...no offense to 80’s synth. It’s definitely developed. We’ve been playing a few new songs on this tour, which has been good,” Amy revealed about the new material.
Before heading off to soundcheck, the Findlay sisters also recommend some other great material coming from Oz, including their tourmates. “They’re the band that we would be like 'they’re the next best thing',” Amy gushed about Orb. The sisters also tipped me off about White Bleaches, who supported them on a recent tour, and Noire, a band from Sydney. “They have some really amazing, really beautiful songs,” Hannah says of the latter. Amy agrees, adding, “Yeah, I don’t get why they’re not bigger. They’re not big in Australia, but they’re really good. They write really good songs and she has a beautiful voice.”
Less than two hours later, the sisters completely rocked their dynamic and energetic set in front of a backdrop of psychedelic graphics, once again getting a great response from the crowd. The setlist contained a mix of old and new songs, and Amy managed to deliver powerful lead vocals while completely smashing it on the drums. Check out photos from their epic set below!
Stonefield at Metro 4/8/2017
- Far From
- In the Eve
Keep up with all the Stonefield news on their Facebook page, and listen to their single "Stranger" from their sophomore album here: