Stephanie Finch is the wife of the solo artist and former Green On Red guitarist, Chuck Prophet.

Finch has since the 1990s played keyboards in Prophet’s backing band, the Mission Express. She is also a singer-songwriter and has recorded two albums of her own material. The first of these, ‘Hotel San Jose’, which was recorded as the Go Go Market, came out in 2000. The second, ‘Cry Tomorrow’, which was released under her own name, came out at the end of last year, and also features Prophet on guitar and singer-songwriter Kelley Stoltz on drums.

Pennyblackmusic spoke to Stephanie Finch at a gig to promote ‘Cry Tomorrow’ at the Borderline in London.


PB: Where were you brought up?

SF: I grew up in California in L.A. My first public performance was with my dad in church doing duets, and then I was in a group, a folk group, with my boyfriend’s sister, based around the L.A. area. During that time I met Chuck, who was the best friend of my boyfriend and I always fantasised that it would be nice to be in a group with him. Then I moved up to San Francisco not long after that.

PB: What year are we talking about here?

SF: That was the late 80’s. I moved to San Francisco in 1988 and by then I had become good friends with Chuck, who was based there. We went to a few movies together,and then one day he invited me back to his house, his basement, and we recorded a song together for fun. And that was kind of it.

PB: Chuck joined Green On Red in 1984 and remained there until they split in 1992. Were you aware of Green On Red before you met him? Over here they were a massive deal, but I am not sure how big they were back home in the States.

SF: They were a big deal, and I knew who Green On Red were before I met him. When we made ‘Brother Aldo’ (Chuck’s first solo album, 1990-AS), I knew who Green On Red were and I knew Dan Stuart (Green On Red’s front man-AS).

I love Dan He sent me some lyrics the other day and we might work on something together(Dan has a new band, the Slummers, and they released their debut album, ‘Love of the Amateur’, on Blue Rose last year-AS). He is writing a book at the moment, but it’s a bit of a mystery if it is fiction or non-fiction. He has a Spanish wife, but they live in New York.

PB: So you started dating Chuck and working with him. When did you start writing together?

SF: Chuck doesn’t need me to write with him, but I did co-write one song which was a three way write, the only song that I have written for one of his records. We did have this co-writer, Kurt Lipschutz, who wrote a lot with Chuck and who is a poet. I enlisted him as well for the Go Go Market album and we did a lot of three writes for that too.

With the new record, I wrote a lot of stuff with a friend of mine, a girlfriend of mine, that would come over to our house on a Friday and we would write some songs together. Then I would play them to Chuck and he would give me his seal of approval.

PB: How did the Go Go Market album, ‘Hotel San Jose’, come about? Did you have a bucket of songs for it?

SF: A small bucket. Yes. It was really Kurt that suggested it. It came together really organically. We started to write and then Chuck joined in. That was a fun record to make. We did a lot of shows in the States, but we never came over here. Then stuff got busy for Chuck again.

PB: How would you compare the ‘Hotel San Jose’ album and the new one?

SF: I like the girl group sound and I like to play around with emotions, and I think that comes through on both albums. The writing style is the same on both, but the production on the new one is more live and it is a little rougher around the edges.

PB: Both records aren’t what you would expect from an American artist. On the last track, ‘Trouble’, on the ‘Hotel San Jose’ album, for example, there is some scratching on it.

SF: We met this guy who was a DJ in San Francisco and he did a lot of stuff with the live band, but by the time we made the live record a lot of it wasn’t suitable for it. Some of it, however, was.

PB: How did you come up with the Go Go Market name?

SF: It was around the corner from where we were recording.

PB: Having come from L.A., you must have been aware of the girl groups from there such as the Go-Go’s, Lone Justice and the Bangles.

SF: Yeah, sure.

PB: Were you friends with any of them?

SF: Not really, but the Bangles in particular and that 60’s sound were an inspiration. I think that the first time that I realised that girls could play guitars was through Fleetwood Mac. I would look at their album covers all afternoon. Every girl wanted to be Stevie Nicks, but I could do the Christine McVie behind-the-keyboards thing.

PB: Were you fans of other bands from Los Angeles’ 60’s golden period such as the Doors?

SF: Yeah, the Byrds and a lot of the older stuff. My dad and brother had bought a lot of their records.

PB: You play both keyboards and the guitar. Why did you pick up those instruments? Did they choose you or did you play you play them?

SF: I played the piano when I was young. That chose me. I chose the guitar though. I wanted to keep up with Chuck when I first met him, so I began strumming open chords and learnt to play it from that from that.

PB: You spend a lot of time in Europe. How does your home life work out? Do you tour approximately for six months of the year and are you at home for
six months?

SF: Yeah, that is pretty much how it works out. Chuck puts a new record out every two years and then the machine gets rolling. We go out a lot in that first year. and then in the second we do less and he starts to think about the next one.

We get on well on the road. We have everyone else to look after us. Then we get home, and it is usually quite strange for us to get used to and to readjust and get back to normal.

PB: Is it safe where you live in San Francisco with being away for so long?

SF: Oh, yeah.

PB: Do you worry about being burgled?

SF: We have thought about that. The things that we really value we keep at Chuck’s parents’ house. There are a couple of good guitars that we keep there.

PB: Most people picked up on the ‘Loaded’ influence of the new album.

SF: I listened to the Velvets a lot while I was writing it and a lot of Lou Reed solo stuff, and a lot of Alex Chilton and Big Star too. I am not sure if that comes over or not.

PB: It has been ten years between this album and ‘Hotel San Jose’. Will there be such a long gap until the next album?

SF: I would like to do another sooner.

PB: With the same band?

SF: I would love too. I have started to come up with some new songs already.

PB: Do you sell a lot of downloads?

SF: They do about the same as CDs. Chuck has a download label, but our audience is older so they still buy a lot of CDs. Our nieces, however, don’t know what a CD is.

PB: Do you and Chuck buy a lot as consumers?

SF: We have a whole wall in the front room that is all vinyl and another that is all CDs. Chuck buys more than me.

PB: What are your future plans? Can you see kids in the future?

SF: No, I think that we would have done it by now. We joke around that we are like college students. We are like grad students though. We could have done it, but we didn’t have the time or enough money. We would like to do it. I probably regret it. I have a lot of nephews and nieces though. So does Chuck.

PB: You are always travelling?

SF: Yes, we are. But it would be rewarding.

PB: You have got a happy life together though.

SF: Yes, we have. We are creatures of habit. We have lived in the same place since we met. We rent. But I think that maybe that we should buy somewhere. We wouldn’t be able to live in the city anymore though. Maybe that would be safer.

PB: Who do you admire or buy CDs of the most?

SF: We buy a lot of rarities and oddities. I have bought a rare Dolly Parton album which we haven’t listened to yet, but I am looking forward to it. Chuck buys more stuff than me, but the more usual singer-songwriter stuff. He is all over the wall musically and there is a lot of stuff in one form or another that he likes that he can relate to.

PB: What is he working on at the moment?

SF: He wants his next album to be a San Francisco record.

PB: What do you mean by that?

SF: Using local musicians, a local studio, songs that were written there.

PB: Thank you.

SF: Thank you. That was fun.















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