BIG INTERVIEW: Stereophonics prepare to do it All In One Night at Victorious Festival

Stereophonics in 2017. From left: Jamie Morrison, Kelly Jones, Adam Zindani, Richard Jones. Picture by Andrew Whitton
Stereophonics in 2017. From left: Jamie Morrison, Kelly Jones, Adam Zindani, Richard Jones. Picture by Andrew Whitton
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Hopefully Victorious will make headlines for the right reasons – not like another festival Stereophonics headlined earlier this summer.

The multi-platinum rockers headline tomorrow night at the Southsea-based festival. But the morning after they played at the Y Not Festival in Derbyshire last month, thanks to inclement weather and terrible conditions on site, the organisers pulled the plug, cancelling the final day.

For the four-piece, though, things actually went well. As frontman Kelly Jones tells the Guide: ‘When we got there we were told (previous night headliners) The Vaccines had to cancel, and then they cancelled the whole day after us. But we never saw any rain at all at Y Not, we were very lucky. The crowd was great and our experience was amazing – it was a nightmare for everyone else though. We read about all of the bad stuff afterwards, the same as everyone else.’

Originally forming as a trio of friends from the Welsh village of Cwmaman in 1992, they took the name Stereophonics in 1996. There have been a few changes on the drum seat and they’ve added an extra guitarist to the line-up, but along the way they’ve become one of Britain’s most successful bands – racking up six number one albums and sales of more than 10m.

They’re preparing to release album number 10 – Scream Above The Sounds, on November 3. Debut single from the album All In One Night was Radio 2’s record of the week. The attention-grabbing narrative song is a bit of a departure from the rockers’ standard fare.

‘When you bring out new music it’s always important for us to step outside our comfort zone,’ says Kelly, ‘and it’s a very different sonic background for us.

‘For me, if you’re going to repeat yourself there’s not a lot of point doing it, really. There’s going to be other songs coming out before the album, but if you don’t lead with a song like this, people don’t take note.’

Today also marks the 20th anniversary of the release of their debut album, Word Gets Around. To mark the occasion they’re playing it in full at a one-off show tonight at the ULU in London, where they played on its actual release. But they’ve resisted the temptation to do a full-blown anniversary tour.

‘We’ve got a gig on the Thursday and Victorious on the Saturday, and we had a day off on Friday. We realised the venue was free so we booked it. Aside from that, there’s no plans to do anything else. We’ve been rehearsing it and it’s been fun doing those old songs again. People have got a lot of love for that album – there’s a nostalgia attached to it.’

Kelly recalls that the band were always hungry from the day they took the name Stereophonics.

Kelly Jones of Stereophonics in action - headlining the Isle of Wight Festival, 2016. Picture by Sam Taylor

Kelly Jones of Stereophonics in action - headlining the Isle of Wight Festival, 2016. Picture by Sam Taylor

‘Myself and (original drummer) Stuart had been in bands since we were 12 and I think I was 21 at that point. We were very ambitious and excited about getting a record deal. We never thought the record deal would be the be all and end all though. We were pretty switched on, I think, we always wanted to make music that would stand the test of time, and music that would move forward.

‘The ambition and the goal hasn’t really changed a great deal, I guess. It’s still about channelling what you‘re experiencing in a way that appeals to other people.’

And he’s emphatic that the band remains forward-looking.

‘There’s a whole new audience in the front row which is very encouraging to see, and it’s about keeping it moving forward, you know?

We never want to be some sort of heritage band that relies on playing its debut album over and over again. We’ve had big hits on every album for 20 years

Kelly Jones

‘Every time we bring out a new record, there’s a song that appeals to people. When we brought out (2005 number one single) Dakota there were a lot of people who thought that was our first song, same with Indian Summer (in 2013) from Graffiti on The Train or C’est La Vie off the last album. And there’s lot of kids who like All In One Night and don’t know anything else by the band.

‘You make music for yourself, to try to challenge yourself and to surprise yourself and if the fans get surprised and interested, that’s it.

‘We never want to be some sort of heritage band that relies on playing its debut album over and over again. We’ve had big hits on every album for 20 years. To me it’s about making a great catalogue of work, and when you do that people come on-board at different stages, and particularly with streaming nowadays and all the rest, they can discover the rest of your songs.’

With recent releases still going to the top of the charts and going platinum Kelly is typically bullish.

‘If you want to put it down to stats and stuff, it’s all that. But for us, look, we’re five blokes who like spending time together, we make some good music and we travel around the world and have a good time doing it.’

And he promises they’ll give the fans what they want at a festival show.

‘It’s quite hard to do 90 minutes – when we do our own shows we usually play for about two hours 20. It’s good though – it becomes very concise and to the point while trying to show as many different sides of the band as possible. It’s not the time to be doing obscure B-sides.

‘People want to sing and have a good time, so we want to give them what they deserve after standing in a field for a couple of days.’

* Victorious Festival on Southsea seafront runs from today until Sunday. Tickets for today are £35, and £42 for tomorrow and Sunday. Go to victoriousfestival.co.uk.