Stereophonics stay true to their roots with new album

Stereophonics stay true to their roots with new album
Stereophonics band members Kelly Jones (L) and Richard Jones (R) pose for a portrait in a music studio in west London on July 22, 2015, ahead of the launch of their 9th album entitled "Keep the Village Alive".
PHOTO: AFP

LONDON - Less high-profile but more durable than some of their Britpop rivals, Stereophonics are back with their ninth studio album which harks back to their roots in a small Welsh mining village.

In the small brick house in west London where the band have their studio, the classic Beach Boys album "Pet Sounds" drifted out of the stereo as singer and guitarist Kelly Jones reflected on his band's past and future.

"In the grand scheme of rock'n'roll, we are pretty young," the boyish 41-year-old joked in an interview with AFP.

"We're still, like, into it. We're still playing really well live and we're still making better records than the rest of them." Known for hits such as "Maybe Tomorrow" and "The Bartender And The Thief", Stereophonics broke through as Britpop bands such as Oasis were at their peak.

While they never achieved the global stardom of some of their peers, regular gigs and a steady output of an album every two years on average have allowed them to sell millions of records.

They are one of the select group of bands to have five consecutive British number one albums, starting with "Performance And Cocktails" in 1999 and ending with "Pull The Pin" in 2007.

With their new album, "Keep The Village Alive", the band are going back to their origins in the former coal mining village of Cwmaman in south Wales.

"We scavenged in the gravel to find this title," Jones said. "It was a phrase I heard when I was a kid which kind of means, you know, 'keep the spirit up, work hard, play hard.'" Jones originally formed the band with his neighbour Stuart Cable on drums and bass player Richard Jones.

Cable left the band in 2003 and died in 2010 at the age of 40 after choking to death on his own vomit after a heavy drinking session.

As well as the two Joneses, Stereophonics now also includes Jamie Morrison on drums and Adam Zindani on guitar.

'Always pressure' 

The new album's name was re-discovered in the sleeve notes of the band's debut, "Word Gets Around", released in 1997.

It evokes the spirit of a close-knit village which struggled with the decline of the mining industry in the 20th century.

"I guess a lot of the smaller towns across the world have been in a little trouble," Jones said.

"The work is being moved away, the pubs are being closed down, the communities are changing so I guess it's just a nod to those people." This summer, Stereophonics will appear at Rock en Seine in France on August 29 and Lollapalooza in Berlin on September 13, two days after the release of the new album. A new tour will begin in October.

Jones, now the father of two girls, is clearly not ready to rest on his laurels.

"There is always pressure. I feel pressure when we start doing things again, playing live," he said.

"That pressure comes from the point of view that you're feeling like you're not quite prepared."

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