The Redlands are cousins and childhood friends, Samuel Nairn (vocals), Chase Williams (lead guitar) Dean Williams (guitar/piano) and Ottavio Dichiera (bass). Formed in 2019, after years of playing live together around Mildura in north-east Victoria and taking their cues from songwriting giants like Dylan, Cave and Isbell. You can hear those influences and more winding their way through the group’s debut album Sticks To Stones, due out this Friday, Feb 18th via Cheatin’ Hearts Records.
There’s a sweet simplicity (in the best sense) to the songs on the album. Melodies dance through both uplifting hooks and melancholia. Just listen to ‘I Want More’ with the pedal steel pulling on the heartstrings or the brisk ache and shuffle of ‘Cocaine’, which wouldn’t sound out of place on an Orville Peck record. Of their singles, ‘Falling Down’, I wrote, ”It finds the North West Victorian trio achieving a symbiotic blend of country, folk and bluegrass with its sonic pot pourri of banjo, pedal steel and acoustic guitar. Over that fleet footed sound there’s an equally inviting vocal mix of harmonies whoops and hollers that adds a real spark and verve to the tale of trying to do the right thing in the pursuit of love and romance and coming up short.’
The group kindly jumped on board to answer our Six Strings Q&A, talking about their early Americana influences, the finest song they’ve written and more.
What was the album that first led you down the dusty path of Americana music?
(Chase) Well, that dusty path has been a long one! I grew up in house that loved 90s country. So plenty of early memories of Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Shania Twain and Keith Urban. As far as discovering a record that made me think I wanted to do this it would have to be Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music which led me to Dave Cobbs amazing discography including Isbell, Stapleton and so many others.
Describe your latest release.
(Samuel) Our latest single release was ‘River’. Chase came to us with majority of the song already written and just needed a final verse, which I came up with later. After a few play throughs of the song to find its progression, it quickly went from a semi-slow country/folk song and evolved into mix of country roots and indie rock – giving a sense of young love in a small town, spending summer nights down by the Murray River and feeling like the future ahead is bright and joyful.
What’s been the most memorable gig you’ve played?
(Dean) Our most memorable gig would have to be the Thirroul Festival put on by our label Cheatin’ Hearts Records. It was set in a beautiful 100 year old railway hall and we were surrounded by amazing musicians and incredibly supportive fans. We shared the stage with three other amazing musicians, including the great Jy-Perry Banks (pedal steel) and felt a warmth from the crowd that none of us will forget.
How did you learn to play your instrument?
(OT) Growing up my grandfather played the guitar and would show me some chords here and there, but I remember seeing music lessons in the school newsletter, so I joined straight away and started learning the guitar! Unfortunately, the music teacher left after a year so I turned to YouTube.
What do you consider the finest song you’ve written?
(Samuel) I consider ‘Give Me A Try’ to be my finest song written so far. While writing, I thought it was aimed at being accepted in a relationship in-spite of your “flaws” but not until I finished the song did I realise it also reflected my depression at the time. Each verse a thought I’d have to face without judgment and accept my current state.
If you could sit-in with one other musician (living or dead) who would it be?
(Chase) If I could be so cheeky as to pick two for me it’d have to be either Garth Brooks or Nick Cave, both for completely different reasons, but I feel like what you could take away from either of those sessions would be priceless.
Do you feel there is a strong folk/country community in Australia and what does it need to keep growing?
(OT) I definitely feel like the folk/country scene has grown rapidly in the last few years. Live events and good new releases are the only thing it needs to continue growing!
What’s been your favourite Americana-related release over the last year?
(Chase) Probably leaning a little more country than Americana but that latest Midland EP The Last Resort is a masterclass on modern production, with a traditional sound. The biggest highlight for me is ‘Sunrise Tells The Story’ that is one hell of a song, I’ve probably heard it more times than I care to admit, but it continues to blow my mind.
What are your musical plans over the next 12 months?
(Dean) Our plan for the next 12 months is to perform on stage as much as possible and really work on our craft to put on the best show possible. We are also set to record an EP to further progress The Redlands’ sounds. We are focused and ready to write and perform as much as possible.