Australian Guitar - - Contents -

The prodi­gious Find­lay sis­ters are back with their third al­bum, FarFromEarth, which serves as their most am­bi­tious and psy­che­delic ef­fort to date.

They emerged at the start of the decade as Io­tah, a set of Zep­pelin-wor­ship­ping sis­ters from re­gional Vic­to­ria with amps up to 11 and hair down to the waist. Nearly a decade on, the band now known as Stonefield have con­tin­ued to ex­plore the outer reaches of psych-tinged rock’n’roll, mak­ing new fans along the way as they move well into their 20s. This month sees the re­lease of FarFromEarth, al­bum num­ber three from the Find­lays. Iron­i­cally, on ac­count of pro­duc­tion and creative is­sues that plagued 2016’s AsAbove,SoBelow, the cre­ation of FarFromEarth – from writ­ing to record­ing – was a rel­a­tively pain­less process.

“This is prob­a­bly the quick­est turn­around that we’ve ever had on an al­bum, which has been a nice change of pace,” says Han­nah Find­lay, the gui­tarist of the fam­ily. “Hav­ing said that, it still feels like it was recorded a life­time ago – we did it over the course of about a month in around April of last year, while we were over in LA. This was all writ­ten quite quickly – we were throw­ing ideas around more or less as soon as we were done with the last al­bum.”

Find­lay goes on to note that the frus­tra­tions that arose with AsAbove,SoBelow meant that the creative juices were flow­ing as they worked on new ma­te­rial con­cur­rently – what was clog­ging up one process made for a cathar­tic re­lease in the other. “The thing with the last al­bum was that it went through a few dif­fer­ent phases – it was recorded and re-recorded a bunch of times,” she says. “It was a dif­fi­cult process, but it ac­tu­ally made it eas­ier on all of us when it came to mak­ing this al­bum – we’d al­ready writ­ten so many more songs in the time it took us to fin­ish the old one.”

The bulk of FarFromEarth was writ­ten across jam ses­sions out in the shed of the fam­ily home­stead in Dar­raweit Guim, a small

town lo­cated in cen­tral Vic­to­ria with a pop­u­la­tion of less than 1,000. Be­sides ev­ery­thing else, do­ing so al­lowed the Find­lays to prop­erly and earnestly get back to ba­sics. “Be­ing back in the shed and writ­ing with no out­side in­flu­ences, we were able to make the ex­act kind of record that we wanted to,” says Find­lay.

“There was no stress­ing over won­der­ing what the sin­gle was go­ing to be – or even writ­ing a sin­gle, for that mat­ter. We wanted there to be a real sense of space on this record. It wasn’t about go­ing full­on all the time, hav­ing ev­ery­one fir­ing off all at once. It was about tak­ing a step back, see­ing the big­ger pic­ture and maybe get­ting a new sense of per­spec­tive. When it was all said and done, we looked at the al­bum and we were 100 per­cent sat­is­fied with what we’d come up with.”

Record­ing in Los An­ge­les with pro­ducer Stephen McBean – best known for his time fronting psych­rock­ers Black Moun­tain – Find­lay didn’t have ac­cess to a lot of her usual gui­tar gear. From a gui­tarist’s per­spec­tive, Find­lay was more or less a kid in a candy shop when it came to record­ing Far

FromEarth. “I’m nor­mally only work­ing with my live setup when we’re record­ing,” she says. “It’s ac­tu­ally pretty fun to be able to ex­per­i­ment with lots of dif­fer­ent amps and ped­als to try and get the right sound for the song.”

Find­lay points to a cou­ple of brand new en­coun­ters in the record­ing process as per­sonal high­lights: “I got to use this pedal called the Bum­ble Buzz, which is Jack White’s sig­na­ture pedal,” she says. “I’d never used it be­fore, and we ended up us­ing it for quite a few of the gui­tar parts on the record. That was re­ally ex­cit­ing. I was play­ing a Gib­son SG for most of it – that’s my go­to. I also got to play an old Rick­en­backer, which must have been from the ‘60s or ‘70s. For a cou­ple of parts, we went into the vo­cal booth and just miced up the gui­tar it­self – I’d never even thought of do­ing that! It was a re­ally cool ex­per­i­ment.”

Along­side the rest of her sib­lings – drum­mer and vo­cal­ist Amy, bassist Holly and key­boardist Han­nah – Find­lay also found her­self in the com­pany of some key spe­cial guests dur­ing the record­ing of FarFrom

Earth. Cat Power ses­sion player Greg Fore­man added some sitar to the mix, while other tracks fea­tured The Brian Jon­estown Mas­sacre’s Rob Cam­panella on the Mel­lotron. “LA is such a creative hub of peo­ple,” says Find­lay. “It was ex­cit­ing to be able to step out of our com­fort zone and have peo­ple that wanted to jam with us come in.”

With the re­lease of FarFromEarth, Stonefield are soon to re­turn to what it is they do best: tour­ing. Lots of it, too. See­ing the Find­lays now will mean a mix of brand new ma­te­rial – they’ve been road­test­ing FarFromEarth for months – as well as a few se­lec­tions from their early re­leases like their

Through The Clover EP, or even the self­ti­tled de­but LP. Find­lay is in two minds about play­ing old songs.

“They’ve hon­estly be­come hard to play,” she con­fesses. “We look at what we were do­ing and how lit­tle we knew – for bet­ter and for worse, those songs are an ac­cu­rate reflection of the en­vi­ron­ment they were cre­ated in. We wrote them to be played on the ra­dio and be­cause we wanted to be­come a tour­ing band so quickly af­ter high school... As ex­cit­ing as it was, it was also in­cred­i­bly over­whelm­ing.”

She at­tests to the stay­ing power of fam­ily and the four sis­ters lit­er­ally grow­ing up to­gether for the band be­ing able to re­main a united front af­ter all this time. “I think the four of us stick­ing to­gether has led us to trust our in­stincts a lot more,” she says. “At the end of the day, we know what’s best for Stonefield. That’s what this al­bum is all about.”

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