After two critically acclaimed albums and a rapidly growing fan base from coast to coast, Nova Scotia rock band The Stanfields have come full circle with their third album, For King and Country.
Before delving deeper into the group’s new record, it is as good of a time as any to look back upon the kind of year that it has been for the band. Earlier this month, The Stanfields walked away from Nova Scotia Music Week with hardware for Group Recording of the Year (for their sophomore record Death & Taxes) as well as the coveted Entertainer of the Year Award. This past spring at the East Coast Music Awards, the group won the Fan’s Choice Entertainers of the Year Award in addition to Group Recording of the Year.
Not surprisingly, The Stanfields, performing at Moncton’s Tide & Boar Gastropub on Wedsday, Dec. 4, has largely made their name based upon their energetic, sweat (and beer) soaked live shows. And though the dreaded words “…now we are going to slow things down some” might make some fans cringe, it is not that radical of a step for this band.
The seeds for For King and Country were actually planted long ago. Before the band starting tearing up the bar scene across Canada, The Stanfields started as an acoustic act in vocalist Jon Landry’s apartment.
“When we were doing pre-production for Death & Taxes in our practice space in Halifax, we would rock out for a couple of hours then retreat to a corner with a mandolin and a couple of acoustic guitars,” Landry tells the Times & Transcript from a tour stop in Golden, B.C. earlier this week. “We ended up writing a lot of material in between the songs on Death & Taxes and before we knew it, we had an album’s worth of material ready to go. We did an acoustic tour with The Trews last year and had so much fun, we thought it would be great to make an acoustic recording.”
Landry says that making the record couldn’t have been any easier. The group retreated to a cottage where cell phone service was non-existent. With nothing but their instruments, their voices and their songs, he says the experience worked on a number of different levels.
“The majority of the record came together fairly easily. Although a couple of the songs had been kicking around for a little while, the bulk of the record was written rather quickly. We just decided to let things happen as they were meant to unfold. This kind of music, essentially folk music, is where it all started for the band more than five years ago in my apartment. In our minds, For King and Country is a full circle kind of moment.”
Although Jon jokes at being relieved their new album hasn’t meant career suicide for the group, the group’s interpersonal dynamics play an important role with moving forward with such projects. Rather than allowing themselves to be caught up in trying to capture the perfect take, Landry says getting the emotion behind the songs is always the more important matter.
“Any band can get into a situation in the recording studio where making music starts to feel like data entry. You might get a perfect take but there is no soul in the song,” Landry says.
“Look at a track like The Rolling Stones’ ‘Honky Tonk Women’ — the song speeds up as it goes along but there is no mistaking the emotion and intent put into the recording. We want our records to reflect the fact that there is a human feeling behind the songs. That was probably the biggest lesson for us when it came to making For King and Country. At some point, the songs can just be too perfect. I’d rather have an audio snapshot of what we are doing and where we are at during that given moment of time.”
What: The Stanfields
When: Wednesday Dec. 4, 10:00 p.m.
Where: Tide & Boar Gastropub, 700 Main St., Moncton
Article published in the November 29, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript