The Stanfields are stumbling closer and closer to national notoriety as one of the best rock bands in the country. After winning the 2011 East Coast Music Award for Rising Star of the Year in November, the murder of east coast musicians hit the Sonic Temple to record their second record, Death and Taxes with engineer Mike Fraser (Aerosmith, Metallica, AC/DC, Nora Jones).
The first single, “Invisible Hands” was released to radio and the internet Tuesday, June 5th and is doing just fine. The record will be released on the GroundSwell label, a branch of Warner Canada, on September, 18.
With a sloe of shows big and small, a fresh single and album, combined with the pitter-patter of little Stan feet, GUFF figured it was as good a time as any and sought out a few words of wisdom from the horse himself, lead singer and guitar player, Jon Landry.
GUFF: How is everyone doing first and foremost? I hear there are new members of the Stanfield family, please elaborate on who’s had what and when (I’m talkin’ babies here) ?
Landry: Everyone is happy and doing well I suppose. Some of us have quit smoking. Some of us have tried and failed (i.e. me). Murph had a son a little over a year ago, and Jason Wright is currently pacing around a hospital ward awaiting the arrival of his first born, a girl. The dynamics of this band are shifting; for the better I think. The days where we get loaded and throw chairs at each other for a laugh are pretty much behind us. Bring on the diapers and dinner parties.
GUFF: The new album Death and Taxes, where was it recorded and who worked on it?
Landry: We went back to the Sonic Temple here in Halifax. This time we brought a gentleman named Mike Fraser with us. He has a resume a mile long. I’m pretty sure if Mikhail Gorbachev had a bootleg french-pop LP out there, Mike probably engineered it.
GUFF: They’re the two things that are certain in life, death and taxes; is that the album title reference?
Landry: On a simpler level, “Death & Taxes” is the title of one of the tracks as well as the album title. It’s probably the most ‘hard rock’ of the bunch. We felt that the tune and its feel best summed up what we tried to capture overall. There aren’t any ‘sweet’ moments on this record. It was important for us to go for the throat of the listener. I suppose there are a few common threads thematically, but I don’t really feel that it’s my place to lay it all out. That would take the fun out of it. It’s been my experience that no one really cares what you think you are saying, only how a song makes them feel. It’s rock and roll, not rocket surgery.
GUFF: How would you compare where you were with Vanguard of the Young and Reckless to where you are now with D&T? How does the new album stack up to the last one?
Landry: We didn’t have a sweet clue what we were doing when we recorded Vanguard, in terms of a career path or artistic merit. We were only a few months old when we hit the studio to track that record. Basically, I think we were ‘honeymooning’ as a band at that time. Everything you do is a party and everywhere you go is new and exciting. Since then, we’ve played hundreds of shows all over North America and met all kinds of interesting people in unique circumstances. More importantly, as a band, we have seen both the best and worst in each other and ourselves. As a result, I think D&T is an honest record, if nothing else.
GUFF: What’s the reception been like for the first single “Invisible Hands”?
Landry: It’s too early to make much of a call on the interest in “Invisible Hands,” but no one has came out and said they hated it yet. Regardless of the perceived definition of “success,” we believe in the tunes and can hold our heads high knowing that we did our best, no matter what happens.
GUFF: Any plans for a video? If so, what can fans expect?
Landry: Personally, I’ve been struggling with the whole concept of the traditional music video. It used to be that a band released a video for Much Music, as a way to raise the profile of the band in a special way. You were the ***t if you had a kick ass video on TV. Nowadays, it seems to me that videos for bands like us are for YouTube. It’s impossible to compete with Drake’s latest jam on television. That being said, I’m positive we will have a video component with this release. I don’t foresee intricate, produced projects like we did in the past, but I could be wrong…
GUFF: What are your thoughts on the east coast music scene?
Landry: It seems that every time I turn around there is a new group or artist doing something new and cool, which I think makes for a pretty healthy scene. I like it when kick ass new bands show up on the radar. Keeps us on our toes!
GUFF: Being that you are ‘leading the way’ so-to-speak in terms of success and popularity (I know, cringe, but bear with me) is it gratifying to come home from playing something like the Olympics to play a home show at the Seahorse? Why/why not?
Landry: We really appreciate the opportunities we’ve had over the last four years. Great memories that will be with us forever. If you had told me ten years ago that I’d get to do the things that I have, I probably would have laughed in your face. However, to me, being a performer is about engaging people, no matter where you play for them.
GUFF: How have you dealt with maintaining a “day job” and being on the road so often for extended periods of time over the last several years?
Landry: It hasn’t been the easiest ride, but it’s been worth it. In my experience, I’ve found the vast majority of the people I’ve worked for (when not touring) have been the band’s biggest boosters. Working hard at your day job and touring your ass off are two sides to the same coin as far as I can see. Sometimes it can make you feel like you’re stretched too thin, but it goes away. I think the most important part is to not get overly-fixated on “making it”. Enjoy where you are, what you are doing and who you are with. You could be hit by a bus tomorrow and die. The sooner you accept that you will never be a “rock star” with millions of people hanging on your every word, the sooner you can get on with the real business of making music and living your life.
GUFF: Who would win in a fight between Mr. Magoo and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew from the Muppet Show?
Landry: Even match, that is until Wolverine comes along and shreds their sorry asses with his adamantium claws.
- Dave Lidstone