Angus Stone has just let the cats out. Well, one in particular, new album Big Smooth Cat, named after a character that inhabits his mind, sometimes taking the wheel, a bit like Top Cat meets Chairman of the Board. When Around The Sound got wind of this, we just had to know more.
Big Smooth Cat is the second release from Stone’s Dope Lemon outfit, following on from Honey Bones, which was released in 2016. Of the progression, Stone said, “Back then, we didn’t really know what to expect with the release. We did a couple of tours, but pretty small. We went around Australia, we didn’t get overseas for one reason or another, but just the way that it’s been building over the time, it’s been cool just watching it grow. People really have connected with the music.”
Stone wasn’t always so confident about Dope Lemon, expressing some initial trepidation at writing and recording outside the Angus & Julia Stone brand when he first started out.
“For sure. It’s one of those things. When we first started, you always have all the people around you, record companies, managers, etcetera, kind of a little bit, I guess, unsure about doing a project under a whole different name. I think it’s really difficult in this day and age for people to branch out. For me, it was really difficult. I had a lot of trepidation, feeling afraid that maybe it wouldn’t get noticed for what it was. I knew it was really special to me, but sometimes things really can fly under the radar. I’m just really happy that it got to people and made its way into their archives of music they listen to. It’s a really cool thing.
“I feel really lucky to be able to have both projects, to be able to go around the world with Julia (Stone). It’s a really enlightening experience to be able to travel with such cool people, the band that we travel with. And then to step off and come home and do my own thing with Dope Lemon…I feel very privileged to be able to do what I’m doing. Because I love it!”
Big Smooth Cat was recorded in the studio on Stone’s Byron Bay property, where he also gets to join in with some manual labour when the mood takes him. Seems he finds both cathartic.
“I was talking to Julia (Stone) about it today. The times when you feel most at peace are when you’re first creating a song from scratch; you’re sitting in the studio and no one is calling you, people aren’t bugging you. It’s such an amazing feeling. When I get back into the studio, I can be lost in it.
“But I also spend time on the farm. That’s where the real hard work takes place. I really admire that. I can slip back into the studio when I feel like it, but it’s good to be able to do some other stuff on the property as well.”
Dope Lemon’s second album is an even more surefooted release than Honey Bones. The songs have a sense of time and place that somehow defies being pinned down. If we had to, we’d picture the album playing on an eight-track in a convertible while driving down Ocean Boulevard, or any coast road in summer, circa 1976. When we suggested this to Stone, he seemed pretty pleased with our detective work.
“That’s what I was going for, a feel something like the late 70s. I feel like I can drop into certain moods and that’s definitely one of them, I’m sailing along in a Cadillac on the 101 [in LA]. Sometimes I feel like maybe I was born in the wrong time, maybe it’s history repeating itself in a cool way. We were brought up on a lot of cool music. Dad was a wedding singer and we listened to a lot of JJ Cale, Dylan, Neil Young… We were brought up on a diet of good tunes.”
Good tunes beget good tunes and, right now, there are few people penning better tunes than Angus Stone.
Dope lemon are due to play Australian dates in August, including Perth, before heading off overseas in their Cadillac convertible with the Big Smooth Cat at the wheel.
Dope Lemon Australian Tour Dates
FRI 2 AUG, ENMORE THEATRE, SYDNEY
THU 8 AUG, TIVOLI, BRISBANE
FRI 9 AUG, PALAIS THEATRE, MELBOURNE
THU 15 AUG, HQ COMPLEX, ADELAIDE
SAT 17 AUG, METROPOLIS, FREMANTLE
Tickets from livenation.com.au