Chilled out, charming and just a wee bit coy. I caught up with Angus to chat about his day to day.
Angus finally picks up the phone, “Hey Tym, how are ya?” I had tried to get onto him this morning, but he slept in. He says goodbye to an old mate he’s bumped into up in Byron and I ask him if he’s been taking annoying journo calls all day. He says, “Nah, I did an interview with Spook, you know Spook Magazine? So I did an interview with a beautiful girl there and just took the dog for a walk and I’m just on the beach now walking back to the car.” I remember he’s a lot less of an indecipherable stoner than a lot of recorded interviews would lead you to believe. Is that rude? One of those things I shouldn’t say out loud? I don’t think so, he’s a musical hero of mine anyway, so bong-head or not, the sun still shines out of his guitar in my young eyes.
He’s too casual, too friendly, and I make the mistake of treating the call like one I’d have with a childhood friend. “What’s life like up there for you at the moment?” I ask. Angus takes a breath and I can assume he’s pulled the phone away from his ear, looked at it with his eyes, pulled back his neck and then raised an eyebrow. “Uh… Pretty good!” he goes on to tell me that he’s been living on what he guesses you could call a ‘commune’, living with other people and that he’s been learning the “art and science of horticulture and also the medicinal value of, uh, of some of the plants.”
He asks if I know the book ‘Fern Gully’. “I’ve been living at the place where the author wrote that book, I think it was Dianna Young. It’s a pretty special place because you’ve got all that energy from where the first anti-logging campaign started, down in that valley.” He explains how great it is to be amongst nature and then loses his words for a bit.
We get talking about his new album ‘Broken Brights’ and I compliment him on the sound. I ask where the songs were written and he tells me it’s hard to remember where exactly, but Europe, America and even on the road back in Australia – sometimes he’s watching discovery channel, sometimes he’s just with his guitar on the tour bus, “you get a lot of down time to just let the creativity come.”
I’d heard some of the songs on the new record played live at Angus & Julia shows before. ‘River Love’ was raw on the mandolin back in 2010 and ‘The Blue Door’ had made its way across Europe the following summer. I know that the Stone siblings write separately but I ask what makes a song an Angus & Julia song or just an Angus Stone song. He explains that a lot of the time he felt that he was just collaborating with Julia and that the songs were still his, but “with that, you know, songs, whether we’re together or solo or with a huge group of people, they’re never really ours in the end. Once they’re down on paper or out in sound they slide off into the ether and they become collective of people.”
I have a feeling then that the people are going to really dig these 13 songs. So subtly different from the Stones’ sound and quite different from his work as Lady of the Sunshine, ‘Broken Brights’ makes you want to get up and groove. Sure, there’s a lot of that trademark lofty love stuff in ‘Be What You Be’ and ‘Wooden Chair’ but it’s all so head bobbing and toe tappingly good. Wild west inspired ‘The Blue Door’ and ‘Monsters’ add a southern charm whilst ‘It Was Blue’ and ‘End Of The World’ remind us that Angus Stone can still rock out.
So does he hear from Julia? “Yeah, I hear from Julia every now and then. She lives in the hills of L.A and in London, so she’s well into touring her album and I’m kicking back, you know, taking the dogs for walks and sitting by the lake and she’s slugging it out.” But Angus has a year full of shows on the horizon with his recent Splendour in the Grass appearance being his first real solo show.
Before we part ways I thank him for his time, apologize for disturbing his sleep in this morning and wish him the best for the album. He says thanks and says he’s always free to talk if I need. What a laid back chap!