IT was Kasey Chambers who helped Angus and Julia Stone figure out how to run a family music business.
Kasey Chambers had engaged the young siblings, who had only just decided to form a band together, to open on her Carnival tour in 2006.
Angus Stone remembers the Sydney Opera House show, a venue they will headline themselves in September, as being somewhat overwhelming.
“We were micro, just little kids who had written a couple of songs,” he says.
But his older sister, by just two years, remembers the experience as being invaluable in showing them their potential future.
“It was a good first tour support because it was all family based. Her dad is on stage, mum is doing merch, brother is doing sound, everyone is in it together. And it was really good for us to see how that could work as a family,” she says.
A handful of EPs and two studio albums A Book Like This and Down The Way kept Angus and Julia Stone kicking around the world for five years.
And then they stopped. While they had explored solo projects during the course of their duo, they announced they were each working on their own album.
Subsequent interviews suggested solo was now the new Stone and there were not only no plans to reunite but it was unlikely.
Enter Rick Rubin, the legendary American music guru who has worked with everyone from Johnny Cash and the Beastie Boys, Adele to Metallica.
Rubin heard their music at a party and almost instantly decided he wanted to work with the Australian folk duo.
“It was warm and personal. There is a relaxed confidence we don’t hear very often and both voices are amazing both apart and together,” Rubin says of his first impressions of their music.
He got his people to track them down.
Both artists were deeply entrenched in supporting their solo records, Julia’s By The Horns and Angus’s Broken Brights and politely declined Rubin’s invitation to meet. He persisted.
“I just met with them individually and talked about how much fun it would be to record all together and that’s exactly what happened,” Rubin says.
Julia reveals it took him a “long, long time” for him to convince them.
She is particular was revelling in the independence she had found as a solo artist.
“We were in such a good place being on our own paths that this idea of getting back together, it took us a long, long time to say ‘Yeah, let’s do this’,” she says.
Rubin identified that the brother and sister had actually been working as solo artists even as Angus and Julia Stone.
The producer suggested they try a unified approach.
“They always worked and wrote as solo artists before. This is the first time they wrote and recorded as a band,” he says.
Those songs and the melding of their voices make the difference on their self-titled third record.
Angus said it worked and getting back together has felt right rather than forced or awkward.
His sister’s answer to the same question suggests the absence, and sense of accomplishment earned from her solo efforts, made her heart grow fonder for her brother.
“Somehow the independence found during that time makes being together more together, it’s weird. I guess it’s like any relationship you have; if you are too intertwined, it’s hard to actually be together. That time apart gave both of us that sense of self,” she says.
“We are independent of each other even though we are working together. We have found the way to be alone and be together.”
There is nothing but togetherness now as they tour in support of the release of Angus and Julia Stone (the album) on August 1, introduced by the single Heart Beats Slow.
Before heading home for Splendour In The Grass, they spent six weeks touring Europe together in a bus with their band. And their dad John.
“Dad has actually been on tour with us for the last three weeks. He’s hardcore, the first one up and the last one in bed,” Julia says.
“He actually has to check with our tour manager now whether he can come on tour because we’ve got such a big band. there’s not a lot of room on the tour bus.
“Everyone thinks Dad is a legend, he’s like the hero of the bus.”
Even when Dad isn’t around, Julia says she is often brought to tears by the “tenderness” shown to her by the boys in the band and her brother.
The Stone siblings certainly didn’t hate each other when they went their separate ways but they certainly seem more relaxed and amused in each other’s company.
Angus teases Julia about dragging their tour manager on shopping trips with her; Julia jokingly threatens to crochet him socks, gloves and a hat and make him wear them.
And the songs soar just that little bit higher than they did when sung together.
It is no surprise that the undercurrent theme of goodbyes bubbles through the record, as evidenced by new single Get Home.
“It’s a tribute to the adventures you have been on, travelling around the world. There are lots of goodbyes but also reunions,” Angus says.
Julia has the final word: “I never say goodbye anyway. I always say ‘See you later’.”
Angus and Julia Stone out on August 1.
They perform at Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide on September 12, Sydney Opera House on September 14 and 15, Newcastle Civic Centre on September 17, Tivoli, Brisbane on September 18 and 19, Perth Concert Hall on September 23 and 24 and Palais Theatre, Melbourne on September 25 and 26.