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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

No rest, all play for Welsh rockers Stereophonics

Stereophonics bassist Richard Jones on Prince Harry, Sandance and why the band will last forever.
Stereophonics expanded to a quartet in 2007. Members from left, Adam Zindani, Richard Jones, Jamie Morrison and Kelly Jones. Photo by Hans-Peter van Velthoven
Stereophonics expanded to a quartet in 2007. Members from left, Adam Zindani, Richard Jones, Jamie Morrison and Kelly Jones. Photo by Hans-Peter van Velthoven

It’s remarkable to realise that 2016 will mark 20 years since Stereophonics first broke out of Cwmaman, the tiny South Wales village, home to just 1,000 people.

With quick wit and an underdog’s verve, the band struck gold early with 1997’s humble debut album Word Gets Around, painting gritty grass roots tales of rural life with songs such as A Thousand Trees and Local Boy in the Photograph.

Stereophonics went widescreen on 1999’s Performance and Cocktails – their bestseller to date, propped up by UK top 5 hits The Bartender and the Thief, Just Looking and Pick a Part That’s New.

Things went a little middle-of-the-road from here, scoring subsequent top fives with Mr Writer and Have a Nice Day (from 2001’s Just Enough Education to Perform), and Madame Helga and Maybe Tomorrow (from 2003’s You Gotta Go There to Come Back).

Frontman and songwriter Kelly Jones turned his amps back up for 2005’s Language. Sex. Violence. Other?, nailing the band’s only number one single in Dakota. Expanded to a quartet since 2007, Stereophonics have troubled the charts less in recent years, but continue to churn out increasingly by the numbers LPs.

This year’s ninth, Keep the Village Green Alive, marked the band’s first number one in eight years (but sixth to date). Bassist Richard Jones remains one of two founding members, standing at Jones’s (no relation) side since 1992. We dialled him at a South London rehearsal studio.

It’s almost exactly three years since we had you here last to play Sandance – but it has been a big three years with two new albums and a new drummer.

Yeah, we just like to keep moving forward, sometimes things we’re doing register, and sometimes they don’t. For us nothing really changes, we keep on releasing stuff and going out on the road.

How much do you relate to the young men who made Word Gets Around?

For us, we’ve still got that fire in our bellies and the same goals – we want to get as many people as possible listening. We never rest on our laurels, we never wanted to be a band who relied on one record or one hit. We’ve got so much we want to show people and put on record, I don’t think we’ll ever stop.

Were there ever times you felt different? Not many bands last forever.

For us, I don’t think we had any intention of splitting up. We were great friends before we were in a band and we’re still great friends now.

Wayne Rooney and Cerys Matthews are renowned supporters of yours — who’s your favourite celebrity fan?

Funnily enough me and Kelly went to the England versus Wales rugby match, and we were two rows in front of Prince Harry. We were trying to take a selfie to put on Twitter and Prince Harry offered to take a picture for us – in our eyes that makes him a fan.

Remember much of your last Dubai gig?

The only thing I can remember from it was that it was extremely hot and we were melting onstage.

It’s the same time of year ...

I’ll bring my string vest, then.

rgarratt@thenational.ae