When someone says brother-sister combo, three things come to mind:
1. A new, oddly named meal deal from Hungry Jacks
2. That Game of Thrones relationship
3. A once-upon-a-time musical duo
If number one or two instantly sprung to mind, it’s likely you have an addiction. But if number three was your guy then grab a tissue, dry those tears and end your mourning phase because this indie folk duo have done a Jesus on us and risen again. Angus and Julia Stone are back, baby!
The last time we heard from the siblings was 2010, with the release of album Down the Way and single ‘Big Jet Plane’. After the release they decided to go their separate ways, pursue and dominate solo careers… until now.
Back and ready to rock the airwaves as a twosome again, the pair are set to release a new self-titled album, produced by certified legend Rick Rubin, on August 1. The first single ‘Heart Beats Slow’ is out now so prepare yourself, because four years without A&J is like four years without Facebook – there is a lot to catch up on. We’re also giving away 20 copies of the album over here.
We sat down, drank tea and chatted about webbed shoes and paddle tennis with Angus and Julia.
What is the best advice you got from Rick Rubin?
Angus: It’s kind of unspoken advice in the way that he just is. He has got a great way of letting things be and unfold in the way that they would. I think a lot of the bands he chose to record with he already enjoys their music and he basically is kind of like come round to my joint and do what you do I think that’s what makes it so cool.
Are there any brother sister fights?
Angus: Oh shit. Not really we just don’t care about much anymore we just get on with hanging out.
Julia: Well this morning Angus scared the shit out of me. That happens. I’m a real scaredy cat and he has been doing that to me since we were kids. He hangs behind a wall when I’m about to walk out of the house.
Angus: It’s a good way to get a good Snapchat!
What was the biggest challenge with making this album?
Julia: I think with making a record there is always a certain amount of focus that goes into it and it’s really full on. Your whole body, mind and heart is focused on this process and the challenge is to stay with that. Because it was such a long time, it’s the longest its taken us, from beginning to end to make a record and staying focused for that time and sometimes it’s just like fuck I just want it to be done, you know but I think getting beyond that and to not let it get to us and doing it a day at a time.
How do you know when it’s done?
Julia: I guess when the master gets sent [laughs]
Angus: Yeah working with Rick, he works at a different pace, it’s kind of a blessing in a way and we were thinking of releasing in April and he was still looking at mixes and we were doing some other stuff on another part of the record and we ended up glazing over that time and we reached now and now we are really appreciative of having that gap and relaxing into it feeling right, which is now.
Julia: Actually when you asked about advice from Rick, certainly it’s letting things happen as they happen. There is no rush and we have never been rushy people, we take our time and he is next level, your doing it as your doing it. Now as it’s coming out you realize it’s the best possible way to happen. We genuinely needed that time.
Angus: But then on the other side of that you can just hang on things forever and have this gut feeling of ‘am I making the right choice?’ It becomes so fickle that you can become lost in an abyss of choice. Julia sent me this photo of this skeleton and it’s in this studio with all cobwebs and there is a skeleton hunched over the mixing desk and he is like just give me one more go at the mix and it’s kind of like that because it definitely gets this way and you need to get to a stage of like ‘fuck it lets let go of it’.
Do you remember the most fun day you had while recording the new album?
Angus: We shot a video for this new single Heart Beats Slow and it’s us riding dirt bikes down the streets of LA. Doing wheelies, we grew up on a farm riding motocross. The idea behind the clip is us, Bonnie and Clyde style, going into diners and corner stores and ripping and riding and going in with shot guns and holding up the joint and getting shot, it was a lot of fun and we got to dive into that world of film. A lot of people on set had shot on Natural Born Killers and Flight Club; there was an explosive team.
Were there stunt doubles?
Julia: Yeah, I mean for one bit Angus took a shot and we shot our own guns and we rode most of the stuff but a lot we couldn’t do, because of the legalities of it because we were riding without a helmet, it was intense. It is the biggest thing we’ve worked on. There was police with us at all times because we were walking around the streets of LA with guns.
Angus: We’d walk out of the diner…
Julia: Covered in tats, we looked like fucking freaks; Angus had tats all up his neck.
Angus: Yeah sometimes you’d come out of the diner, where we had this scene where I’d been shot and Julia was dragging me out and I’m limping out to the motor bike to blast off and people across the road were looking going ‘what the fuck?’
What is the weirdest thing that’s happened to you whilst performing?
Angus: This chick jumped up on stage and started grinding on me, I couldn’t do anything because I had a guitar in my hand and I thought oh fuck it, she was all drunk and getting up in my grill.
Julia: You just have to laugh.
You’ve got to have balls don’t you?
Julia: Yeah, balls and be incredibly drunk. I mean she was absolutely blind, I think it’s always the people who are on drugs, but weird things is like when you’re about to start crying and you’re trying not to. That is weird and you’re like ‘where is this coming from?’ for me it’s a natural experience to cry and when you’re on tour the predominant part of your life is on stage so at some point there has to be a cross over period where a normal time you’d start crying is when you’re on stage.
What was the last thing you bought on the internet?
Angus: Oh I was in New York and I was watching TV and there was a lucky dog ad on. A golden retriever was all happy in the backyard and they were selling a hose slash brush for dogs. So you can brush them and hose them at the same time so it’s a brush-hose. I bought it for my dog and it was like three installments of $20 over six months.
Julia: A guitar on eBay. An amazing Stratocaster, baby blue, I was looking at it for weeks and I kept going back to it. I’d never actually bought anything from eBay so it was massive to actually sign up and make an account to buy this guitar.
Did you pick a crazy screen name?
Julia: Nope I think I was just Julia Stone with some numbers at the end because Julia Stone was already taken [laughs]
If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be and why?
Julia: Leonard Cohen or David Bowie because it would be fucking epic. I think Leonard Cohen because it would be an amazing combination of his and my voice. I think he has such a deep low voice and mine is high and airy so I think to sit on top of that it would be amazing. I saw him play once in concert and it was the best I’ve ever seen and the way he plays is so genuine and heartfelt and his lyrics are so deep and he is such a deeply spiritual man, you could feel it in the room he changed peoples lives.
Angus: I’d work with Wes Anderson to make a music video, all his stuff that I’ve seen him produce and direct, he is so poetic in the visual on so many different levels but the simplicity of how it comes across is so child like and all the music he puts to his films are classic.
What was the last thing that made you really angry?
Julia: I don’t think I’ve been really properly angry for a long time but I’ve had flash rage. It’s not anger it’s probably because I haven’t eaten and I’ve got low blood sugar. Actually I remember the last time, I was late for rehearsal and I was told I would be picked up on time and I really wanted to be on time because I knew all the boys would be there and Angus would be there and they’d be waiting and the manager told me he’d be there but he wasn’t, because he was doing something for me like getting us a guitar piece and I was fuming, because I hadn’t eaten and I was walking around the house slamming doors for no reason, and when he picked me up he knew I was mad but I got in the car and I was like “hi how are you” and he said “yes yes I know I’m sorry” but I said it’s fine but that’s about as angry as I get.
Angus: I don’t know.
Julia: When I sat next to you in the car really close?
Angus: [laughs] No but I guess when there is no time for that recharge day and you have to get out on the road, or when you have a day aside but it gets lost.
Julia: Yeah, we had this one day off and we were on the bus and the drummer got off when we got petrol to get something and the tour manager gets back on and said okay lets go and everyone was still sleeping so off we go and we drove for three hours and everyone starts waking up and we were like where is Ray? And he had emailed our manager saying we had left him three hours back so our whole day off was going back to get him. It was so fucking annoying and everyone was so angry and he was sitting there wearing those wetsuit shoes and his pajamas.
Those shoes are foul!
Angus: I know, everyone wears them all over LA.
Julia: They are revolting.
What are some games you play when you’re bored on tour?
Julia: Oh, paddle tennis. It’s like a miniature version of tennis with a flattened ball. It’s like high impact tennis, but kind of like squash in a way. As well as normal tennis, backgammon and 500. It’s hard for us to play because you usually need 5 people but we figured out how to play with two people.
Angus and Julia Stone is out on August 1, you can get your hands on it through iTunes, or enter our comp here to win if fo’ free.