Interview: The Stanfields

The Stanfields @ Audio Blood Media office, 01-15-11
[Note: Apologies for the semi-offensive photo… but really, would you rather have it any other way?]

I had a chance to sit down with Halifax’s The Stanfields at the Audio Blood office before their show at The Horseshoe Tavern on January 15, 2011. It was a real treat because all five members of the band were present, each providing their own insights and stories.

Perhaps you’re already familiar with the band, at least from the news. During their cross-Canada tour in the fall their van broke down. Guitarist Jason MacIsaac describes, “We were driving through the Rockies and basically, short story, the engine blew. We were stuck on the side of the road, had to get towed into Kamloops, where we had to stay a week and a half while it got fixed.” This was not a minor cost of repair. Because of this, they put out the word that the band was stranded and they needed help. They got a ton of support with the word being spread, including from CBC.

Frontman Jon Landry spoke to the nature of help they received, calling it “humbling.”

“The whole amount was raised in four or three days. It was amazing.”

Impressively, donations were not just from Canada, as there were donations from Pennsylvania. A particular standout was donation was from Great Big Sea.

Keyboardist Jason Wright chimes in, saying, “For me, it kinda did something too. If I ever had a question if I should be doing this with my life, that was answered then. There’s so many people that want us to succeed now and I’m gonna be doing it forever.”

As the band buzzes with agreement, Wright pauses and says, “You just don’t realize how many people know about you.”

“Or that you mean something to them,” continues drummer Mark Murphy. “I really didn’t expect to raise the full amount. We didn’t expect even close to what we got.”

Craig Harris (bassist) ponders, “I didn’t even really know how to feel. It was just so shocking. ‘Wow, okay, uh…’ It was kind of a weird feeling.”

Landry then says, “We went from the lowest depth of despair to the highest kind of peak in a matter of days. We experienced a whole range of emotions. Crazy.”

Landry had actually left the band in Kamloops and completed the rest of the tour solo, riding along with tourmates Birthday Boys. Landry describes, “I was sitting on a chair getting drunk playing acoustic music and harmonica. Way different. You know, our show is all about good times and we want people to party, but… we’ll have a few drinks throughout the course of the night, but we’re too busy working, trying to make the night happen… And everywhere we went, people would be like, ‘I heard about your band. Drinks are on the house tonight” …and ba-boom. It was a totally different world.”

This was the first time Landry had really done shows on his own representing the band. On top of worrying about the band getting home and being able to pull off these solo shows, Landry didn’t even have his phone with him.

Landry says, “Everything happened so fast. The van broke down and I said, ‘Oh, I’ll get my phone in a day or two’. We figured a fuel pump went or something.

Wright continues, “We figured it would be a one-day thing.”

Landry jokes, “But it turned into 8 days. ‘Well, see ya in Halifax! Have a good tour!’”

Murphy then says, “It was strange for us to because we’d been travelling together for two weeks as a unit and then all of a sudden it’s split up and, you know, this kind of vacant feeling or something.”

Although these guys are no strangers to touring, this was actually their first time going across the country on land.

MacIssac comments, “You hear a lot of stories about break downs, but it’s never on the first trip.”

Murphy continues, “When it first happened we were kinda chuckling because we didn’t know how serious it was. We didn’t imagine it would ever be so serious or expensive. We were like, ‘Oh, this is what happens, everyone. You break down in the Rockies. Pay your dues.’ And then we find out and we’re like, ‘Holy shit.’”

“That’s way beyond paying your dues. That’s biblical, man. Karma, maybe,” Landry says.

Laughing at the thought, I asked, “Karma? What’d you guys do? Did you guys re-evaluate yourselves individually?”

Landry jokes, “We’re pious now.”

Fortunately, the guys made their goal to be back home in time for the Nova Scotia Music Awards, where they won Alternative Recording of the Year. (Sidenote: The Stanfields have also been nominated for 4 East Coast Music Awards, which will take place in April.)

Despite their fall tour fail, the guys did have a great year tour-wise. They played at the Olympics and managed to cross the country at couple times. Wright says he loves Banff and there was a murmur of agreement, but then Murphy says he loves Toronto.

Landry comments, “This city is fucking great.”

I tell the guys that I think it’s interesting how much they love Toronto, considering many of the bands I’ve spoken to claim Halifax as their favourite tour spot.

Landry responds, “We’ll never leave Halifax. It’s our home. We love it there. It’s what we know. But here in Toronto, it’s a little more of a gateway to the world. It’s a little more exotic.”

The guys are clearly loyal to Halifax, knowing that the music scene over there is something that has really fostered their music.

Murphy describes, “It’s really close-knit. Everyone knows everyone. There’s really no animosity at all amongst anyone. There really can’t be. You can’t afford to act like that in a scene that close-knit. Everyone helps everyone out.”

Landry continues, “I think it’s more about people than it is about genre, at the end of the day.”

As far as what they’re influenced by, the band lists off a host of musicians and bands, but then Landry says, “We don’t really sound like the sum of our parts. I think our upbringing kind of kicks in.”

Their live show is something that’s created some buzz, which Wright discusses, “We like to go out and just play like we’ve never played before, and like you’re going to be done at the end of the set, so play like it’s your last.” And if that doesn’t convince you, you’ll just have to see it for yourself.

When asked if they had any good drunk stories, there was a lot of joking around, but they didn’t provide me with a story.

Landry jokes, “The last two and half years have been a goddamn blur, to be honest with you.”

The guys laugh and Landry continues, “We could get in shit if we tell the real stories.”

At this point, the guys were looking forward to their shot, which was really a mickey of Jager. After the “shot” photo of Landry and MacIssac, the guys were encouraging me to also have a swig of the Jager, complete with a photo. I really hope they didn’t actually sneak a photo. But honestly, it was a great chat with the guys and if you didn’t catch them at the Horseshoe, I’ve been assured that they’ll be back soon. They may have had a rough go at their first land tour, but they’ll be back at it again. And they’re also looking to record more music. Look out!


Categories: Interviews


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One Comment on “Interview: The Stanfields”

  1. January 25, 2011 at 10:26 AM #

    Great interview! 🙂

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