DOPE LEMON The X-Press Interview

It’s already a huge year for Aussie rocker Angus Stone, releasing and touring his latest Dope Lemon album, Big Smooth Cat, plus playing Byron Bay’s Splendour In the Grass and going on an international tour later in the year. Following up his hit Dope Lemon debut Honey Bones, Stone is one of the most popular faces in Australian music, playing both solo and of course with his sister in Angus & Julia Stone. He has maintained a love for his art and fans have retained a love for him making it. With all this going on, not to mention a WA show at Metropolis Fremantle on Saturday, August 17, EMMA PEET had her curiosities about the Big Smooth Cat satiated.   

Hello Angus, what have you been up to today?  

Hey my dudes. Had a coffee and am over working on a rock retaining wall on the property. In the studio later today kicking around some ideas. Good day so far, thanks!

Where are you and what’s it like where you are?

I’m on the ranch where I live and make records. It’s cruisy. I have a cattle farm that’s situated in an open field with heavy bush on the outskirts of property. There’s wallabies and lots of wildlife among the livestock I have grazing. It’s a peaceful joint to kick around.

So your new album has just come out, Big Smooth Cat. It’s clear listening to the album why you chose that name for it, but my question is who is the Big Smooth Cat? Is it an alter ego or someone else? And where does he come from?

A big part of what this record is, is the Smooth Big Cat himself and his story. He’s a fictional character in one of the songs on the record. He’s this sort of illusive character that lives on the property. The property where I made the record. Where I live. His story [is] he doesn’t sort of have stakes in worrying about all the nonsense in the world. He’s a cool cat… he just likes staying up late having a drink and listening to old records. He shows up when you need to mellow out and take a step back in life. He represents a cool thing. His character from the song almost became this totem for the record and when I listen to the record I think of what he stands for. So it became the title of the record.

I really love the character of the last track, Hey Man Don’t Look at Me Like That, what is the story behind it, who is singing with you and why did you choose to include a track that is so dissimilar to the rest of the album?

Thanks. It was a song that I kicked around with Isabel Lucas awhile back. We were just mucking around with this idea of this character talking about his observations of people. We were in the lounge room kicking around and I recorded it on an old shitty laptop I had which I think kind of gives it its charm in a way. The speakers are kinda bursting and it’s really ramshackled but it captured a really cool moment. Sometimes that’s all that really matters.

Is there a particular artist or individual who influenced you heavily when writing this album?

I have a bunch of playlists I roll around. It’s a really broad spectrum of styles really from country all the way to electronic. But to be honest when I’m recording I’m very involved in just what’s in front me with what I’m creating. I like to keep fully immersed and get lost in it. But yeah, I dunno I get sick of music sometimes and just listen to talk back radio most of the time (laughs).

How do you feel about releasing this album after your debut album Honey Bones was so well received? Is that intimidating when you’re writing and recording something new?

It’s a really humbling feeling what happened on that record & I feel if anything just stoked that people are writing to me asking for new stuff. I’m looking forward to people having cool experiences with this record with whatever they have going on in there lives at the time it comes on the radio.

Who else helped and supported you with the creating and producing of the album?

This record was really unique to me in the way where I walked in not having anything written. I walked in with the engineer and started with a different instrument for each song and slowly building songs up myself. I have a really cool relationship with my dude where we just kick around, drink some whiskey and let it roll. It was my first time playing every instrument, producing, mixing a record and it was a really fun process.

How is Dope Lemon different from your other solo work, like Lady of the Sunshine or the Broken Brights solo album?

I was talking about it earlier today. Every record is a whole different adventure & experience. Each represent a time in my life as almost a bookmark that you can hold up and look at think about what was going on at that stage in time. This for me was coming off a big stretch around the world with my sis and wanting to just get straight into the studio and create as I had lots to say.