You wrap up a multitude of sold out world tours and ARIA Chart smashing album releases – but what next? Well, of course, if you’re Angus Stone, you go home, and you do it all over again, but with an added unique touch. Stone is the co-conspirator behind Angus & Julia Stone, but unbeknownst to many friends, he too is the face of Dope Lemon – the stoner-hippy, chilled out rock band.
Taking residence in his secluded getaway in the Byron Bay hinterland, having just completed a huge Splendour in the Grass performance, and just before heading out on the now-touring Dope Lemon run of shows, we got chatting.
“I just went out to go and look at these big river stones. We cut them into slices and then we gut parts of the stone and put lights in the inside. It’s just for this area that I’ve got – this little lake area I have,” admits Stone. That’s the place he hosts various events and “fun things”.
“I came off a big run around the world with Julia and you either have that buzz to get back in the studio and create, or you wanna disappear for a while… I wanted to create,” Stone, whose latest full-length Smooth Big Cat is now in touring mode, confesses.
“I didn’t conceptualise this record too much. I called up my audio engineer Paul [Pilsneniks]. I told him I had some stuff I wanted to get out and lay down in the studio. We started with a few days, and it ended up being three months,” which was only natural for Stone. “We came up with this really different sounding record, and I felt really happy with it. It’s one of those cases where it all just fell into place.”
Check out ‘Salt & Pepper’ by Dope Lemon:
One crucial ethos behind this record was the idea that Stone would do it all. And, as it turns out, that rings true to a tee.
“The record’s unique in the way I played all the instruments, I mixed it, I produced it. It’s very close to my heart, and I’m really proud of it. I’ve built up songs playing different instruments in the past on other records, but never every instrument. I think that’s the difference with this record – everything you’re hearing, from the drums, to the bass and the piano, the electrics, the glockenspiels, the congas… everything you’re hearing comes from my hands.”
“For me that was a really unique process and I think when you wanna listen to your artist, that’s definitely one of the best ways to do it. To know that they’ve fully immersed themselves in the whole thing. This record’s 100% my style and my flavour.”
Stone and Pilsneniks chipped away at the record over the three months. “None of the songs were written at all before I went in. I’d jump on different instruments and slowly piece together a song.” Stone preferred to save the lyrics until the end. “When I had the song I’d step into the verse and just start coming up with lyrics.”
“The music industry is in a great state. I love watching the genres sweep through our music world in Australia. It’s really interesting to watch people pick up on stuff and take the bits that they want and move forward with their own elements of what’s going on. It’s all just a big melting pot of different humans’ ideas coming together and it’s a really positive thing for the world. To be a part of that is pretty special.”
Dope Lemon – ‘Hey You’:
Stone loves taking the immersion to the next level, often getting out there and meeting new fans.
This is something he values, but has really started to show over the last few years. “If you have something really special you wanna share, you have to get involved with spreading the message. Part of that is talking to people, showing up and shaking hands . There’s lots of different ways that you have to get out there and put forward what you do.”
He continues, “As I get older I’m starting to really enjoy those different sides of the job. It’s not always about the music – that’s the bottom line, but a lot of it is just putting yourself out there and being there in the world you wanna be a part of, so other people can be a part of it too”
Just recently, Stone offered up free tattoos for Dope Lemon fans across the country.
Stone believes the picturesque and idillic residence he lives in had some influence on the record, but the bulk of it came down to the sounds of the songs themselves.
“It can mean everything, or it can mean nothing at the same time,” Stone explains. To him, it’s more about letting the songwriting and the music take you to places you’d like to go.
“Having that space that’s really golden, and having that open plan cottage property with a studio is incredible – it really affects the mood, and the way the songs come together. At the same time, song writing is one of those things where you can be pretty much in the middle of nowhere, and what you’re writing about can take you away to a place where you wanna go.”
“I find that’s what music does for me. When I’m writing my own songs it takes me away to those worlds I’m creating.” And that’s what Stone hopes is the case for listeners, too.
“Next, we’ve got the [now-touring] Australia tour, then we head over to Europe for an epic tour of Germany and Holland and France, a bit of the UK and hopefully we’ll take on America.”
And after that? “We’ll do it again,” Stone chuckles. “For me it’s a labour of love and it’s the best,” he concludes.
Smooth Big Cat is out now, and in its first week of sales, scored high ARIA Chart Placement on multiple charts.