Sometimes mocked as one of the world’s ugliest tourist attractions but always loved for its role as a cultural and civic facilitator, Fed Square has developed a personality all of its own. A cultural precinct, a civic centre, a monstrous architectural adventure, Fed Square turns ten this year and to celebrate it will host of a diverse program of free entertainment from family-friendly activities to gaming and a concert headlines by Melbourne’s adopted little stoner-rock sisters, Stonefield (that is not to imply they’re in any way stoned – they’re good lasses).
With two EPs blitzing the ‘70s rock kids into the spotlight, it seems about time that the Findlay sisters release their debut album. With two out of the four still in school (despite their blistering talent), Stonefield are doing their best to keep up the momentum they’ve created. “We’re recording demos for our album all this week,” singer and drummer Amy Findlay says. “During the school holidays we spent that time finishing off the writing of all the songs – we’ve got about 14 or 15 – and once we’ve got these ones demoed we’ll probably keep writing up until recording time.”
Their age is no barrier as far as skilled musicianship goes but there is still the logistics of ensuring the girls receive an adequate education. “It’s been really interesting because Sarah who plays keys is doing year 12 at the moment so she’s got her head full of school,” she says. “Hannah and I have tried to get the majority of songs together while the girls are at school. When they have time off we’re able to get the rest of the songs together and [start] sounding like a band. We definitely work better when we’re all in a room jamming; it’s so much quicker to try things out and get things sounding how we want.”
Bassist Holly is only 14 and given that she’s been on this wild ride since she was 12, if anyone was going to lose their head to all of this you would think it could be her, but according to Amy the girls keep each other in line and Holly is handling it all quite well. “Holly, being the youngest, she’s quite different to the rest of us,” she says. “Things like Facebook weren’t quite as big when we were younger and I think it’s a lot easier for young people to get sucked into their social life and their social status. Being the youngest child – I think it happens in every family – parents kind of let loose a lot more and she gets away with a lot more than us three did. She’s outgoing and bold and developed her personality at a very young age but she’s a really good girl and the band is a big focus for her. Being in the band and travelling will probably make up for her missing the social aspect of school.”
The social aspects of school that she’ll be missing will be the result of the planned distance education she’ll be embarking on next year so Stonefield can focus on what they do best. Their parents must be the coolest parents in Australia. “Mum and Dad are really supportive in whatever we do,” she says. “At this point, the band is really important and it’s important to keep going with that momentum. Holly’s quite young, so it’s really important she learns the basic skills of how to read and write properly and all of those things but we are thinking about doing distance ed for her next year. Sarah’s so close to finishing school it’s like she may as well get through with year 12 and then she’s done with it. You can‘t get that close and then drop it all. She’s actually doing it over two years so next year she’ll be finishing the last two subjects via distance ed and that way she’ll be able to focus on the band.”
Organising time has done nothing to dampen the enthusiasm the band have for their debut album but like all artists, there have been times of frustration. Accusations of the band being some sort of manufactured rock act is always met with laughter by Findlay, although over time the laughter has morphed from genuine humour and into frustration. Despite their angelic look and sweeter-than-honey demeanour, the Findlays are very much in control of every part of this journey. “At the moment our label and management have been really supportive and given us lots of space – they know we don’t need any extra pressure,” she says. “They’re just staying back while we do the demos but once they’re finished I don’t know what will happen then. Obviously, they like to have a say but it’s our band, it’s our songs so we’ll have the last say as to what goes on the album. We learned from our last EP how important it is to stick to your guns and to go with what makes you happy. We’ve had some really low moments writing this album; I think that happens to every band. You write these songs you feel really good about and then you listen back and you think, ‘Oh god this is really crap’. The you have these moments where everything is sounding awesome and you’re feeling really happy so yeah, it’s been an adventure so far.”
BY KRISSI WEISS
STONEFIELD will play Fed Square’s Birthday Concert on Saturday October 27 from 10am – 10pm with free family activities during the day, a big screen gaming competition and live music from 3pm including Stonefield, Animaux, City Sessions and Royal Jelly Dixieland Band.