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Lady Of The Sunshine

Angus Stone just wants to go to the beach. His body is in a New York recording studio, laying down tracks for the next record with sister Julia, but his mind is floating somewhere over the east coast of Australia. He wants to know how the weather is back home. “I heard it’s pretty cold, yeah?” He can’t wait to bury his feet in the sand and forget about music for a while.

Angus declares he’s more than ready to retire. Hang on, this from a 20-something who has just released his first solo album? Come on boy, where’s your stamina?

“Don’t get me wrong! The fire’s still there and I’m still excited about it all. I’m just keen to settle. I’ve been skipping around the States and the UK for a while. We touched home a couple of months ago and then we were in London again. We’ve been based in London for about two years. I don’t really have a home anymore. Home’s everywhere now; the world is home at the moment.”

It was in between jaunts across the Pacific that Angus began collecting a sack full of ideas, and new songs started to take shape in his mind. “It’s kinda something that’s been lying dormant in me for a while. When I got home I bought a ticket to Coolangatta and climbed the mountains and recorded with a friend, Finn, and Lady of the Sunshine is what came of it.”

So it wasn’t a conscious musical emancipation from Julia? “It wasn’t planned that way. I had no expectations of how it would sound or turn out. It was more just sitting back and recording and letting the songs take on their own feel and see what happens. More of a free way of recording.”

Indeed. Whenever anyone mentions this album it’s inevitably followed by a comment about the obscure space in which it was captured. A water tank.

“It was like what you’d see in someone’s yard, but a bit a bit bigger. It’s a concrete tank, about three metres long, four metres high. Finn ground out a door and there’s a little hallway to the door. Then he’s got a glass door that seals it off so sound doesn’t come up into the mixing room. The mixing room is under his lounge room and you can hear his baby rattling around on the wooden floor with his toys. You know those wind-up toys? They make that whirring sound? That was happening a lot, so we had to wait for moments of silence to record the quiet parts!”

And there are a few of those on the record. While the grungy, distorted first single White Rose Parade sets the tone for the long player, the other tracks don’t necessarily follow the same formula. Angus covers genres from rock to blues and folk. One minute it’s blistering, the next it’s languid and dreamy.

“Yeah, for every feeling there’s a different voice and style and way it can come out and that’s what this album is. Not just one thing. It’s really interesting how much you can do with one word or a simple idea. The album is many colours of how things roll and have been rolling in my life.”

So was Smoking Gun just a one-off album or should we expect more from Lady of the Sunshine? Angus isn’t making any promises. “I think I’ll play it by ear. I don’t know, maybe I’ll call it something different next time. Whether we’re playing in the garage or with friends, I’ll be playing it one way or another but touring? I don’t know, I was thinking I’ll take it easy this year.”

For someone who wants to take it easy, the kid sure is busy. He and Julia spent most of April on a tour of the States, which included a showcase at SXSW. Now they’ve bunkered down to work on a follow up to their 2007 debut A Book Like This.

“It’s going great! Really organic. There’s been a lotta love, a lot of good vibes. I’d say it’s more…we have a lot of different musicians, so lots of flavours. Yeah, it’s different. Ah shit, I dunno, I’ll leave it up to you guys to describe!”

Whatever the finished product is, it’s sure to be an honest and personal offering. “Recording is one of the best outlets I have. Every album and song I record is for me and it always will be. When it’s not, I don’t think I’ll be doing it anymore. Everything has to be for yourself. It’s like touring and having to paint the same picture every night. But you can elaborate on that picture and have a jam up on stage, get good drunk and muck around.”

Smoking Gun is out now on Desert Harvest Records through EMI.

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