Slightly removed from the spotlight for six months to write and record their debut self-titled album, Melbourne sisters Amy, Hannah, Sarah and Holly – collectively known as Stonefield to the rock world – have come out with a mature, hard-hitting rock record that sees the girls grow up and take the next big plunge into their already mammoth career.
The album touches on themes of evolution and maturity, not just as a band, but as individuals. Stonefield is a heavy, raw and unique collection of classic rock songs with an overt blues influence – a trademark of the sisters’ success. Jake Wilton caught up with the drummer and lead singer Amy to ask them about playing with Fleetwood Mac, breaking into the UK market and working with a backing choir.
Before we talk about anything else, let’s discuss your cancelled support slot for Fleetwood Mac. Where were you when the news broke of John McVie’s illness and the cancelled tour? I was actually at home and saw it on Facebook. We didn’t get notified before it was common knowledge, so it was a real bummer to see that on your Facebook feed [laughs].
Did you grow up with Fleetwood Mac’s music?
Yeah, definitely. It all just felt completely surreal that we were going to be supporting them. To be honest, it never really sunk in so I think that may have made it a little bit easier.
A few years back, Stonefield played Glastonbury Festival. Now you have a full album, do you plan to break into the UK market more?
Yeah, we’re planning on going over there next year. We’re playing the Great Escape and will try to do a tour around that and definitely focus on that part of England next year. I mean we haven’t released our album outside of Australia yet so that’s something we’re looking into doing at the moment.
Now that you’ve developed as much as you can in Australia do you think it’s time to branch out into the US/UK?
Definitely, UK is our main focus firstly because we had the opportunity to play showcases in both London and Los Angeles. But just from doing that London show, we got the vibe that the UK is a lot more suited to us and our music. But you never know what opportunities come up, such as Glastonbury, so I guess we’ll just see what happens.
When you say the UK is more suited to your brand of music, what do you mean?
Well in LA, we got the feeling that rock is more… glam, more into that whole emo side of rock. But in the UK, there are so many bands that have influenced our music so we just sort of fit in. It just felt right.
How do you think the band has developed in a live setting?
Definitely we’ve gotten a lot better as musicians and I think our songs have improved. We’re always looking to improve and we’re already excited to write the second album because we know we can do heaps better. Not to say we’re not proud of what we’ve done, it’s just… we’re always working harder to improve at everything. So I think our live show now is so much better; we’re a lot tighter, we’re better musicians, it’s a lot more dynamic. I think having myself upfront… it feels like we can put on more entertaining show and we can connect with people a lot better.
Do you prefer this to being behind the drum kit?
Well I’m doing a bit of both and playing a few songs in the middle of the set on drums as well, so it’s really nice to have the best of both worlds. When I was playing drums for the whole set, I really did feel like I was stuck behind a barrier and I just wanted to get closer to everyone and move around.
You have managed to keep in the public eye in a very calculated way. There was the Unearthed High win in 2010, 2 EPs and now the album. There’s been a lengthy wait but most bands who take their time usually fall out of public interest.
Playing shows was all we were doing [to remain in the public domain] apart from six months before we started recording the album. I think that was a really important thing for us to keep up the playing, seeing new bands and hearing new music and new influences. But I think we were very careful not to seem like a band that’s going to be the hyped thing for two seconds and then we’re gone. I think because we’re all girls and we’re sisters, it’s so easy to focus on the gimmicky side of our band.
Because you’re all girls and you’re sisters, were there barriers that limited you?
There were, more so when we first started playing years ago in 2006. We’d rock up to the venues in Melbourne, nobody knew who we were so we felt as though we had to prove ourselves. We know that people love to talk about that because it is quite exciting that all four of us happen to love the same music and play together. We get that that’s a talking point, but it now feels more focussed on our music and that we’re working as hard as any other band.
Let’s talk about Put Your Curse on Me. The song is phenomenal, how was it working with a backing choir?
So, so amazing! The sound of a gospel choir is my favourite sound in the world, so to have that on one of our songs was just a really amazing feeling. We got to perform with a gospel choir at our show in Sydney, which was amazing again to do that live. It really changed the song for us and gave it a really cool voodoo vibe; it gave it a whole new life.
Was recording the album a different experience from the EPs?
Definitely, it just felt a lot more natural and relaxed and fun; it was just easy, we just really loved the experience. It was definitely our most enjoyable experience and I think recording live was a big part of that.