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article imageInterview with The Stereophonics' bass player Richard Jones Special

By Adrian Peel     Aug 21, 2015 in Music
Digital Journal gets the lowdown on the Welsh/English quartet's new album "Keep the Village Alive" from one of its founding members.
As any true fan of modern popular music knows, The Stereophonics - winners of Best British Newcomer at the 1998 BRIT Awards - have been one of the UK's most consistent and best loved rock acts since the late '90s, but the sheer extent of their success may come as a surprise to some.
For not only has this former trio sold over 10 million records and had 10 Top Ten hits ("Dakota" remains their only number one), in 2007 they became the eighth band in the history of the UK album chart to notch up five consecutive number one albums, after The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, ABBA, Genesis, Oasis, Blur and U2.
The group, whose celebrity fans include Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey, currently consists of two founding members who both grew up in the small Welsh mining village of Cwmaman.
They are Kelly Jones on lead vocals, guitar and keyboards and Richard Jones (no relation) on bass, piano and backing vocals. The former also writes and produces the bulk of the band's material.
Guitarist, Birmingham-born Adam Zindani, was added to the lineup in 2007 and in 2012, London-based drummer Jamie Morrison took over from previous sticksman Javier Weyler, who had replaced original drummer, the late Stuart Cable - a childhood friend of Kelly Jones' - in 2004.
Cable was sacked from the now firmly-established unit he helped form - and named - in 2003 and between then and Weyler's hiring, the drum stool was occupied by Steve Gorman of the now defunct Black Crowes.
The Stereophonics' new LP Keep the Village Alive is set to be released next month and is the high-flying outfit's ninth studio album. It was recorded at Stylus Studios in London and at the ICP Studios in Brussels, and follows hot on the heels of 2013's platinum selling Graffiti on the Train. I was keen to learn more about the title.
"Yeah, well it's got a couple of different meanings..." begins the affable 41 year old, who has a well known penchant for tattoos. "We wanted to celebrate where we came from and also it was the last line in a song off the first album. We thought, 'That's a catchy little phrase that would work as a title.' We discussed it and everybody liked it.
"It reflects on small communities in the UK, a lot of which are overlooked, and we wanted to give them a great boost... The village where we came from, all the industry got taken out of it a long time ago and was replaced with factories, and over the last 10 years even they have closed down.
"There's not a lot of opportunities, there's not a lot of money around the place and pubs and workman's clubs start closing down because people can't afford to go out and socialise. So as far as the community goes, it starts sapping the life out of it...
"It's a big shame because community life is very important for the older generation, and for the younger generation to interact with different age groups."
The cover of the new album.
The cover of the new album.
Mike Gowen
Discussing the album further, the father of three who, despite living in London, is a regular visitor to his hometown remarks, "I think theme-wise, there's no one running theme. Kelly is a story-songwriter, so there's quite a few different stories on there, in regards to relationships between men and women. I think that's probably the thread that runs through it..."
The album's first single was the catchy "C'est la Vie," a tune rather unlike anything the 'Phonics have put out before, and then the second - released last month - was "I Wanna Get Lost With You." I quizzed Richard as to whether he had any preferred tracks among the 10 that make up the CD.
"That's a hard question to answer - I just had my kids ask me that question!" he laughs. "I don't think I really have any favourites... I have an emotional relationship with each song and each one takes me back to the moment when we recorded it. Every song is different from the next and when we play them live, people react to them."
A number of big names that started out 20-odd years ago during the height of Britpop (The Stereophonics came afterwards and escaped the tag), are still going strong, but without the critical and commercial acclaim they previously enjoyed.
As the formidable foursome's last record went platinum, that is certainly not the case with them. "For us, we've always wanted to stand the test of time, have a great catalogue of work," muses Richard, commenting on the reasons for their longevity, "and I think we've got a great fanbase as well. We've tried our hardest to reach a really high standard."
So the tallest member of the band can imagine himself still doing this in 10 or 20 years time?
"Yeah, I think so... As long as you've got something to write about - and you're enjoying it - there's no reason why you should stop."
Keep the Village Alive will be available to buy or download from September 11. The two-CD Deluxe Edition features six extra tracks.
For more information on The Stereophonics, and to view their upcoming tour dates that include a scheduled appearance at the first ever Lollapalooza Festival in Berlin on September 12 and 13, visit their official website.
More about the stereophonics, Richard jones, Kelly jones, Wales, jamie morrison
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