Stereophonics’ frontman Kelly Jones: I’m ready to strap a guitar around my neck and perform again

Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones

The Welsh rockers are rehearsing in London ahead of the release of their 12th album Oochya!, a collection of personal songs written mainly during lockdown.

May 2020 saw the singer, guitarist and primary songwriter become a father for the fourth time, but he still managed to find time to craft a new album.

sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The 47-year-old, instantly recognizable for his rasping yet glossy voice, wrote two or three songs with the intention of including them in an updated greatest hits compilation.

Stereophonics’ have a new album

But, once he started writing, he found himself returning to unused songs from the vault, such as Hanging On Your Hinges, and working towards an entire album.

“Songs, they find their place,” he muses. “I don’t see them as old or new. They are always going to be new to the audience, no matter when they were written.

“That was the catalyst of the whole project. The album became a bit like a mix-tape. There’s a lot of different styles on the record. It almost sounds like a compilation but a compilation of new material.”

Stereophonics remain committed to the classic album format. But of all their albums, Oochya! is perhaps the most diverse, containing energetic, up-tempo songs with a distinctly punk feel, as well as their trademark stadium-sized anthems and stripped-back ballads.

This range makes it perfect for consumption via streaming services. “People interpret music in different ways,” answers Jones. “To me personally, I’ve always made my albums for the band in an album structure.

“I like thinking about side one/side two on vinyl. I like thinking about them like a setlist for a gig. I’ll start off with a big song and then go through and take you on a journey of different moods like I would when I’m playing live.”

Jones recognizes the advent of streaming has led to both positives and negatives for musicians and listeners.

“People listen to music in very different ways,” he offers. “But ultimately, I think there’s people listening to more music now than they probably ever have.

“There’s a lot of it out there and there’s a lot of places to get it. We play in countries and places in the world that would never have distributed our records [before].

“It’s got advantages and disadvantages but I think, ultimately, if you make a record that you’re honest about and you love, then I think people will discover it in their own ways. I’ve got no control over that part.”

One older track that made it onto the album was Forever, which Jones says is about freedom and escape.

“That song was about when my youngest – my first kid at the time – was going through cancer when they were like 18 months, 19 months old. It was relevant then but I never released the song.

“But then, as life goes on, you have other challenges in your life and I just thought the lyric was quite, it wasn’t ambiguous, but it was open to interpretation.

“I hadn’t forgotten about it. I had the song there. But it fitted the feeling of the record. Because as much as the song was about something very, very personal, the sentiment of how the song makes you feel is quite celebratory.”

Stereophonics have scored a staggering seven UK number one albums since their formation in the Welsh village of Cwmaman. But Jones is reluctant to reflect on their successes too much.

“I don’t keep a diary, but the way I write lyrics, if I go back over all the albums, I can see who I was at that point,” he says.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, that is the blessing and the curse of being a lyric writer. It all comes out in one way or the other.”

Fatherhood, however, has changed his outlook on life. He has two children with his former partner, Rebecca Walters, and two with his wife, MTV journalist, Jakki Healy.

“It’s very interesting how much a young person can write,” he says, looking back at the band’s early years. “I was probably 18 or 19 writing [debut single] Local Boy In The Photograph or A Thousand Trees.

“It’s weird now, because my oldest kid is 17 turning 18. When you see a gauge in front of you about what a real teenager is, and then I look back to the songs I was writing around about that age, that makes me feel like, ‘Wow, I was pretty intensely into it – working very hard at it’.

“That’s the bit I find the most interesting, is how young we all are when we are doing that stuff that gets you established in the first place.”

When the band head out on tour in March, playing stadiums and arenas, it will be about two years since their last outing proper (they played some shows last winter to celebrate 20 years since the release of Just Enough Education To Perform).

“Touring is going to be different,” he says. “It’s quite intense, because everybody has to do all the testing and all the rest of it. We can’t quite step into the rest of the world yet.

“There’s little parts of Europe that are now opening up for festivals, but overseas travel is going to be quite complicated. We’re just going to take it step by step.

“We’ve planned a really good show for these arenas and we have 12 albums’ worth of catalog and the new record to celebrate. We’re going to do a great show – its just about 25 years we’ve been on the road.”

Since their debut album in 1997, Stereophonics have maintained a dogged touring schedule.

“It’s what we do,” says Jones. “Stopping was quite a strange thing, because as much as my brain wanted to stop, my body was going, ‘What’s going on? Aren’t we normally moving? Aren’t we normally releasing our energy performing?’ “

See also  Canada's Indigenous Children's Graves Wins Photo of the Year Award at World Press Photo 2022

Related Posts

George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.