Inspiring Conversations

Getting Cosy with Stereophonics

  • SumoMe

We sat with Welsh band Stereophonics and boy, did we have a nice day!

Text by Penny K & V

Time was ticking, still no sign of the band. Is this normal behaviour? Can members of an alternative rock band actually be divas?

Wait, we’re talking about Stereophonics right? Hardly divas.

When Kelly Jones, Richard Jones, Adam Zindani, Javier Weyler entered the room, a cosy spot at the Fairmont Hotel’s Ink Bar, offering a round of warm hellos and handshakes meeting them no longer felt as daunting as when the prospect of meeting them was first brought up to us.

Meeting Stereophonics was for, Penny V, the bigger fan of us two, a lifelong dream come true. For me, it was a trip down memory lane called The 90s, of sunny Singapore days in my school uniform making my way home, listening to “Have a Nice Day” on my portable radio.

Here in Singapore for the second time in two years, (yes, they’ve tried Durian, Richard says it’s a taste he could never forget) Stereophonics put up a live performance at the Fort Canning Park April 30, 2010.

They sang songs from their seventh and latest album, “Keep Calm and Carry On” as well as other firm favourites like Mr. Writer and Dakota. You know what they say about oldies – they’re always goodies. A big boo to the most absurd Stereophonics audience member who threw a slipper at Kelly Jones, who proceeded to pick it up, say ‘thank you’ and storm off the stage with the rest of the band. They only reappeared once he was apprehended by bouncers and hauled out of the arena.

Don’t worry Kelly, Penny V would gladly and lovingly apply a salve for your bruise and wounded pride.

In any case, we shot the breeze with the band and found out amongst other things: NO, they don’t know a band named Dakota, though admitted their marketing savvy was righteous and that they were throwing a bachelor party for drummer Javier, who’s heading down the aisle next week! Congratulations Javier!

Read on for our quick chat with the band.

1. Keeping things fresh is always a challenge especially when you want to keep your old fans and garner new ones, so what was the process like when you were coming up with your seventh album, since you were working with new producers?

It was good! I mean for each record we try to do something different from the previous one, it’s always a challenge and it’s always quite good to get taken out of your comfort zone and try new things. It was a challenging record, trying to pick what songs would go on it and it was very honest process.

2.It’s the first time that the band is on the cover of one of your album’s – why only now? Was it a conscious effort to keep it that way?

We were with the same record for ten years, Richard Branson’s V2 Records before it was sold and then we moved on over to Universal and when we did our Greatest Hits album, we thought it was a nice way to get to know the new people listening to us and when they put a picture of us on it. That sold lots of records for us and we thought okay, we’ll put our picture on the next cover and so we tried to make the picture as interesting as possible: a breakfast table in the middle of the sea, and it was cold and wet.

3. Keep Calm and Carry On, have you ever needed that words of wisdom to help you along the way?

I think those words of wisdom come in handy. It’s just strange when you have these morale-boosting kind of statements – it becomes like subliminal messages and you don’t even realise and you’re thinking about it, but if you’re going through certain things in your life; if you are freaking out and you read something like that – it does give people an incentive to slow down, think about it, and that was quite fitting for our album title. It’s good that it can be interpreted by other people.

4. How do you maintain such strong relationships with one another, what’s your secret?

Most of us have been friends for a long time before the band and it’s always easier when you know their personalities and you get on with them. And you spend so much time together, working and travelling, socialising and playing together. I think that’s the thing, you remember they’re your friends and you’re experiencing things together.

5. After moving on to a major label do you feel the need to competing against the other acts on the label?

Yeah it was strange, because when we were at V2 we were the biggest fish…in a small pond. Then when we went to Universal we were on the same label as, Metallica, U2, The Killers, Kanye West and it became quite realistic very quickly. But it was a good thing,  it made the label realise how strong a platform we have, I mean the Greatest Hits did very well and it made us realise, to compete with these bands, we have to make good records because if you’re record’s not making money they just take money from your budget and give it to somebody else . It’s quite ruthless, as a business.

In the past we had a family of people who would see it right through the end but if you’re not really happening on a major label, they’d just pull the rug out from under you.

6. Dakota might be a fallacy but do you have any plans to really mentor a band?

It takes a lot of time and effort to do what we do and we don’t take any time off when we’re at home, we still do band-related activities and write new material, so we don’t have a lot of time to actually mentor any band really but we do listen to a lot of new music and we do try and help bands by inviting them to play with us and that’s the way we tend to do things.

7. What are some things that you’ve drawn inspiration from for this album?

Well, the record was written over a period of 12 months, so there’s no real overriding theme but there are quite a lot of songs on the record – Beerbottle, was about my street getting flooded when I was 12, Innocent was about the experiences of youth and the consequences of that; Live ‘n’ Love – you know is to try and find a positive outcome after a struggle. So Keep Calm and Carry On, it’s more or less about overcoming things.

Mr. Writer Music Video

Mr Writer was pretty difficult – it was a 2-day shoot; one day we had to dress like clowns, which was quite strange, because in between takes you’ll see your friends dressed as clowns, reading the newspaper. We also had a snowglobe filled with rock salt, dropping down the back of your neck all day, it was not pleasant. There were explosions and fire; David Slade (30 Days of Night, Hard Candy and the latest from the Twilight Saga: Eclipse) directed it and it was a bit crazy.

9. What’s your best tour memory?

We went to Mount Rushmore once with the crew and when we were done, we went up the bus popped in a DVD that lasted for about 3 hours and when it was finished, we realised that we left one of the guys from the crew behind! So we drove back and he was in a t-shirt in the middle of the desert in the freezing cold. Good for us, not so for him.

Here are some of their next up-coming gigs:

Date / Time Venue Town/City
May 30, 2010 19:30 Aberdeen Exhibition Centre Aberdeen
Jun 01, 2010 19:30 Windsor Hall Bournemouth
Jun 02, 2010 19:30 Brighton Centre Brighton
Jun 05, 2010 00:00 Cardiff City Stadium Cardiff
Jun 05, 2010 00:00 Cardiff City Stadium Cardiff
Jun 05, 2010 17:00 Cardiff City Stadium Cardiff
Main photo is Copyright Penny’s Daybook, 2010.

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